Volume 95, Issue 31

Friday, October 26, 2001
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London prepares for protests

Media pioneer visits Western

Students become alumni in mysterious ceremony

Professor criticizes ban on gay blood

MSA lecture discusses Islam

Police pursue possible sex stalker

The world at war

Students become alumni in mysterious ceremony

By Chris Lackner
Gazette Staff

Ritual, tradition, colour, music, people in funny looking robes and hats that scream for the fashion police – ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the first day of Western's 277th convocation at Alumni Hall.

"Learning is a life-long process. Western hasn't offered all there is to know," said Eleanor Clitheroe, Western's chancellor, noting the university has taught graduates to think objectively, look at ideas with an open mind and temper their views of the world with empathy for the human condition.

Henry Barnett, a renowned neurologist and co-founder of Western's department of clinical neuroscience, received an honorary science degree at yesterday's ceremony and addressed the graduates.

"Life is the greatest show on earth," he said. "During my [life] there have been an awesome mix of barbarism and progress."

He cited World War II, Cambodia, Rwanda, Apartheid in Africa and the recent attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York City as some of the symbols of the darker side of humanity.

He noted society still has much progress to make.

"We're still losing species and spaces by an alarming rate," he said, concerning the environment. "[And] half the world goes hungry every night."

Barnett said there has also been much progress made in our time, including the elevation of women and minorities in society, social advancements, technological progress and a vast expansion in both medical and scientific achievements.

Western President Paul Davenport called convocation a celebration of higher learning and praised graduating students for the contribution they make to London, Ontario and Canada.

Mary Frances Pikington, graduating with her doctorate of philosophy, said she was relieved to be finished at Western, but said she also felt a sense of loss.

"The sacrifice was worth it," she said of her five-and-a-half years of academic struggle.

Business and community leader Peter Godsoe, currently the chief executive officer of the Bank of Nova Scotia, will be the honorary graduate today at 10 a.m..

Michael Ignatieff, director of the Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University will follow him at the 3:30 p.m. ceremony.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001