Concordia University

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Honorary degree citation - Robert H. Marchessault*

By: Russell Breen, June 1982

Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Robert H. Marchessault, an accomplished athlete, a man of letters, an eminent chemist, a distinguished scholar - indeed, a truly educated gentleman who has served his profession and his community with great distinction.

Robert Marchessault was born in the city of Montreal, of a French Canadian father and English-speaking mother. His bilingual and bicultural home instilled in him, at a very early age, a sense of identification with and pride in our two Canadian linguistic and cultural communities. His charming and very beautiful wife came from an identical linguistic and cultural background. And from this Quebec and Canadian family came six talented children, two of whom will be graduating from Concordia University this Spring.

Robert Marchessault's academic career is indeed remarkable. In 1950, he was one of the first graduates of the newly established Chemistry programme on this Campus. During his undergraduate years here and his graduate studies at McGill, which prepared him for the significant role he would play later in his profession both in industry and in the academic world, he displayed a very acute intellectual curiosity - an Aristotelian type of wonderment which leads to the beginning of wisdom. Not only was he most successful in acquiring his Doctorate but at the same time his keen interest in philosophical and theological problems eventually led him to be one of the first participants in the Great Books discussion group in Montreal, and inspired him to start the first Great Books discussion in Philadelphia. This inquiring mind did not prevent him from excelling on the gridiron, in the boxing ring, and on the hockey rink, where he played professional hockey for the Senior Royals, resulting in his eventual installation in our Sports Hall of Fame.

As a scholar, Robert Marchessault's involvement and experience are both impressive and extensive. He has taught at the State University of New York, the University of Strasbourg in France, and l'Université de Montréal from 1969 to 1978, where he also served as Chairman of the Department of Chemistry. His scientific publications number over 150 articles and papers. The importance of his scientific achievements as one of Canada's leading chemists resulted in his being awarded the "Anselme Payen Award" by the American Chemical Society, and in 1981, the "Archambault Award (Pure and Applied Sciences)" from l'Association canadienne française pour l'avancement des sciences. Dr. Marchessault is an active member of many professional societies, has served on various editorial boards, and has patents registered with the Canadian and American governments. From 1970 to 1973, he served also as a member of the Board of Trustees of Loyola College. Since 1978, he has been Vice President at the Xerox Research Centre of Canada.

In honouring one of our more successful graduates at this Convocation, we are proclaiming to the graduates of today and of tomorrow, those unique qualitites of spirit and mind which they should try to emulate. We are proclaiming our belief in a type of education which, while rooted in the rigours of a given discipline, nonetheless forms individuals with inquiring minds who can respond with creativity and foresight to the needs of a rapidly changing world.

Mr. Chancellor, it is a distinct honour and privilege for me on behalf of the Senate, and by the authority of the Board of Governors, to present to you Robert H. Marchessault, that you may confer on him the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.

* deceased

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