Letters Spring-Summer 2009



Just a quick note to say I thought your latest issue (Winter 2008/09) was really terrific and quite compelling reading. With everything that comes through the mail slot, I don’t always have time to go through my McGill News from cover to cover, but I pretty much did this time! And William Shatner an alum—who knew?

One small criticism, though. I think the fact that McGill was named one of the top 25 universities in the world— again!—should have received much more prominence than a small appearance at the bottom of the eighth page. Such an impressive standing is really something to be proud of and ought to be acknowledged accordingly. Keep up the good work.

Toronto, Ontario

I enjoyed the William Shatner article tremendously. Bernie Rothman’s comments about the qualities you need to survive and thrive in the world of arts and entertainment were right on the mark. In a creative business and in a family of creative “types”— an actor, a writer and an artist among them — who struggled at first to make a living and then to make a decent living, I have learned that versatility, fearlessness and sheer force of will come to matter as much as talent and luck.

Charlottesville, Virginia

As a McGill law school graduate (BCL’51), I was sometimes invited by Don Wolvin to the Château Apartments where he would invite the cast of the Red and White Revue of My Fur Lady after rehearsals. While I never participated in the show itself, I would on occasion sit down at the piano to play some quiet jazz and I had the opportunity to meet William Shatner at one of the rehearsals. A few years after graduation, while in New York, I attended the musical comedy The World of Suzie Wong, in which Bill starred. After the performance, I found my way to his dressing room and his parting words were “Did we have a full house?” This was our last encounter, but it is a good feeling to read about his success and to reminisce about all the talented performers of the Red and White Revue.

Montreal, Quebec

Last issue was the best one I have ever read!

Fredericton, New Brunswick

Your article about William Shatner was an interesting piece on a truly transformed man, but one thing makes me curious. How exactly did you go about writing an entire multi-page article on William Shatner without mentioning, even once, the fact that, at the very institution in whose alumni magazine the article appears, there is a building named after him? After all, the William Shatner University Centre has had that name since 1992.

Okay, maybe not officially…

In the 1991-92 Students’ Society of McGill University elections, a student-initiated referendum run by a small group of dedicated Shatnerites (mostly Trek fans, I was more a T.J. Hooker man myself) allowed McGill to boldly go where no university had gone before by requiring the SSMU to refer to the University Centre only as the William Shatner University Centre, to hang a sign with that name in the lobby, and to have SSMU’s VP University Affairs lobby the University administration to change the building’s name officially.

The response to creative slogans like “The Shatner Building: Why not?” and “Shatner Building? Beam me up!” was overwhelming—students turned out to vote in higher numbers than at any of the three previous SSMU elections. The referendum passed. And although McGill has studiously refused to give effect to this name officially, invoking a policy from some McGill toponymy committee, for the past 15 years those who really respect the students (the heart of this great institution) have known this building by only one name.

Shatner it is. And Shatner it shall be.

Incidentally, two of us who ran the referendum went on to play other roles in McGill and Canadian education. Alex Usher would later found the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations and develop the idea that blossomed into the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation. And in 1996-97 I became the SSMU VP University Affairs—my very first official act was to lobby then Dean of Students Rosalie Jukier to change the name of the building. She declined. She also declined to rename the Brown Building after Patrick Stewart. No fun at all.

LLB’97, BCL’97
Seattle, Washington

I just received my copy of the McGill News and appreciate your offering the news of my being chosen one of Alberta’s library innovators for medium-sized public libraries in 2005. However, it was the Canadian Association of Public Libraries of which I was a former chairman, not the Canadian Library Association. I am very proud of my degree from McGill, and look back on that student time as one of the best times of my life.

Lethbridge, Alberta


I just began reading the Winter 2008/2009 edition of the McGill News and what a surprise to see Flo Tracy’s name. Of the people that I remember from my days at McGill living at Solin Hall and being involved in the inter-residence council, Flo Tracy is especially hard to forget. Flo, as I recall, said it like it was and we were all the better for it! Kudos to Flo for years and years of formative shepherding and for a tremendous amount of giving to so many of us! Thanks again Flo!

Rockland, Maine


I’m glad you featured Tony Proudfoot in the winter edition of the McGill News (“Grace Under Fire”). He deserves it, for a number of reasons. You wrote about how he very likely saved the life of one of our students, who had been shot in the head during the 9/13 rampage at Dawson, by giving first aid. What isn’t explicit in your profile is just how heroic an act this was. While Tony was with the wounded student by the front entrance of our college, no one knew whether the shooter would come back out and continue shooting. Yet Tony stayed by the student’s side, at the risk of his own life.

About a week after the event I ran into Tony at Dawson. I had made it a point to congratulate those members of our community who had performed so bravely. I shook Tony’s hand and told him that what he did was amazing and wonderful. I also asked him if he had been scared then. He said no, he had not been.

I was off-campus when the terrible events occurred, but I have sometimes wondered what I would have done in those circumstances. I hope I would have done as Tony, and a few others, did. Tony doesn’t have to wonder and hope —he acted courageously, to his eternal credit.

Computer Science Department
Dawson College
Montreal, Quebec

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