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Honorary degree citation - Thérèse Gouin-Décarie

By: Tannis Arbuckle-Maag, June 1994

Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Thérèse Gouin-Décarie, researcher, teacher and practitioner, who is internationally known for her research on infant development and who has been a leader in the establishment of the field of developmental psychology in Canada.

Dr. Gouin-Décarie was trained as a researcher and practitioner in Montréal, Boston and Paris. Her early career path typified that of many women in that she was simultaneously teaching at the Université de Montréal, raising four children, and pursuing her doctoral studies. Her doctoral thesis, a brilliant synthesis of Piagetian and Freudian theories, was published in several languages and has become a classic in developmental psychology.

Au cours de sa carrière à l'Université de Montréal où elle est maintenant professeure émérite, Madame Gouin-Décarie a tenté de comprendre comment la perception, l'intelligence et les émotions, en se développant, permettent graduellement au nouveau-né de se joindre definitivement à l'espèce humaine. Ses travaux nous ont permis de mieux comprendre comment le nourrisson se construit, avec l'aide de l'adulte, une représentation mentale des objets physiques et sociaux.

Dr. Gouin-Décarie's impact as a scientist and educator is reflected in a partial list of the honours that she has received. She is a member of the Royal Society and an Officer of the Order of Canada. She was the first woman in the social sciences to be a member of the National Research Council; the first woman to receive the Marcel Vincent award for outstanding Québec scientists, and the first woman to receive the Prix du Québec Léon Gérin for a distinguished scientific career. This record of achievement is all the more remarkable because, at the start of her career, women scientists and the scientific study of infant development were both only just beginning to gain recognition in the universities and in the scientific community. Those of us whose careers have directly benefitted from Dr. Gouin-Décarie's pioneering efforts are particularly grateful to her for her leadership and for the role model that she has provided.

Mme. Gouin-Décarie a apporté un soutien particulier à l'Université Concordia par son encouragement lors de la création du Centre de Recherche en Développement Humain et par son intérêt continu pour les travaux de recherche du Centre depuis sa fondation. Her contribution to the Centre for Research in Human Development at Concordia is, moreover, but one example of her dedication to the advancement of research and scholarship in the universities and of her commitment to improving the quality of undergraduate and graduate education.

Mr. Chancellor, it is a privilege to present to you, on behalf of the Senate and by the authority of the Board of Governors, Thérese Gouin-Décarie, so that you may confer on her the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

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