Honorary degree citation - Michael Gibbons
By: John Capobianco, December 2004
Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Dr. Michael Gordon Gibbons, international leader of universities, senior executive in higher education, groundbreaking researcher and physicist.
Henry Adams, the American historian and essayist, once wrote: "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops." From the time that Dr. Michael Gibbons and his wife were Resident Tutors in two University Halls of Residence, his influence has been profoundly felt. In those early years, it was individual students who benefited from his tireless encouragement and mentoring. His approach was groundbreaking, and went well beyond the norm.
Then, and throughout his career, he has not been content to foster academic excellence and research through love of learning. In addition, he has always sought to help students and universities combine excellence and relevance to the needs and opportunities of our time. He has linked the various sectors of society to harness their energy, with clear-sighted dedication and leadership, to build the future,
Over the course of an academic career which has included 35 years of personal scholarship, readers and audiences ranging from the most specialized audiences to developers of public policy and the curious general public have all been informed, provoked and delighted by Dr. Gibbons' efforts. He has effected real change in the institutions where he has worked, understanding the profound need for integration across disciplines and institutions.
A passionate advocate of science and technology with a commitment to social science, his is a strong voice for wisdom in our troubled times.
Dr. Gibbons obtained his first undergraduate degree, a B.Sc. in Mathematics and Physics, from Concordia in 1959. In addition to his work all over the planet, he has continued to have strong ties with Canada throughout his career, in universities, government and private-sector advisory bodies from Newfoundland to Vancouver and points in between.
In all of his positions, most recently as Director of Research of the University of Manchester, Dean of the Graduate School and Director of the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex, and pre-August 2004 as Secretary General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, Michael Gibbons has been a connector: of great ideas, of best practices, of emerging knowledge and of people who need to know each other to make common cause. This is how great things come to fruition.
As a powerful force for the thoughtful, intelligent advancement of science, technology and humanity, Michael Gibbons has contributed to a strengthening of the global fabric of which we are very proud.
Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of Senate and the Board of Governors, it is my privilege and an honour to present to you Michael Gordon Gibbons, so that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.