Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you, Dorothy Davis and Violet Walters, two extraordinary women and accomplished artists who have made a major contribution to the cultural life of Montreal.
In 1933, Miss Davis and Miss Walters gave up promising careers on the stage to found an acting school for children. The Children's Theatre, this year celebrating its 50th Anniversary, is the only group of long standing in North America putting on plays for children by children. More than a quarter of a million youngsters have attended the The Children's Theatre's major productions, now put on twice a year at Concordia's F.C. Smith Auditorium. For some of their graduates their training has led to careers and fame: William Shatner, Star Trek's Captain Kirk; Burt Metcalfe, the Executive Producer of Mash; and Miss Ellen, Ellen Steinberg Bloomfield, of Romper Room. The list goes on ... Hanna Gartner, Tommy Schnurmacher, Gloria Carlin, Martin Neufeld and France Joli... to name a few.
Almost all of those who have taken classes at The Children's Theatre have acquired more than a love and knowledge of the entertainment field. They have learned the poise, articulation and self-assurance needed in all walks of life.
Miss Davis and Miss Walters have always taken pride in the achievements of each child, and not only those who played leading roles. They have strived to get every student to realize his/her full potential. It is a testimony to their dedication and commitment to children and their own personal ethics that they have operated for half a century without the need of a written contract.
A principal role of a University is to teach and mold character. But the University cannot do the job alone. It is therefore appropriate for Concordia University to honour two women who have devoted their lives to a similar mission.
Mr. Chancellor, it is a distinct privilege to present to you, on behalf of the Senate and by the authority of the Board of Governors, Dorothy Davis and, in absentia, Violet Walters that you may confer on them the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.