Yesterday’s News: Spring 1980

Yesterday’s News

Yesterday'sNews_Mar'10The Spring 1980 edition of McGill News heralded some major changes – to the publication and on campus.

Following a survey of readers, the News announced it was returning to a magazine format, following a period of publishing as a newspaper in an attempt to keep costs down. The decision meant distribution would be restricted to recent graduates and to donors, a policy that would persist until the mid-nineties.

The cover story reported on the installation of McGill’s new principal, 38-year-old family man David Johnston who had been the dean of law at the University of Western Ontario. With representatives of 50 North American universities, Governor General Ed Schreyer and 1,000 McGill staff and students in attendance, the formal ceremony began. The crowd stood as the brightly robed dignitaries assembled on stage. It was a solemn and silent moment – until Johnston’s four-year-old daughter Catherine caught sight of “McGill’s 14th principal, resplendent in black and gold” and chirped proudly: “There’s my daddy!”

Another feature article covered research with hints of future applications. The Faculty of Engineering was studying the energy output of “large, egg-beater windmills,” while meteorologists Svenn Orvig and Eberhart Vowinckel were investigating changes in climate brought about by pollution, population density and major engineering projects.

The magazine’s concluding essay was a touching recollection of Stephen Leacock by former student David Savage, BA’37. Thrilled to be enrolled in Leacock’s introductory class in political science, Savage was expecting a tall, elegantly dressed wit, “when a small, loosely dressed, friendly looking old man came in.” Savage waited for the “funny stuff” to start but he soon realized how dedicated a teacher Leacock was. “Not once during my two years with him – and for all I know, not once in his 33 years at McGill – was Leacock absent, or a minute late, or the slightest bit unprepared.”

Every so often, though, Leacock “would erupt,” embarking on a humorous tangent and eventually “bubbling and shaking with laughter, as was the entire class.”

by Diana Grier Ayton

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