David Suzuki is set to receive an honorary science degree from the University of Alberta on June 7. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

University of Alberta’s decision defended

Discussion continues about Suzuki’s honorary degree

Opponents to bestowing an honorary degree on environmentalist David Suzuki have lost sight of what the recognition is all about, says a Red Deerian whose father received the same tribute.

Rondo Wood said her father Kerry Wood was given an honorary degree from the University of Alberta in 1969 for his many environmental contributions and achievements that included writing 26 books and being one of the creators of Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary.

“They’re celebrating the individual’s process of contributing to the society,” said Wood, 78, on Thursday.

The U of A’s decision to give an honorary science degree to David Suzuki, who has spoken out against Alberta’s oilsands, has angered some Albertans as the province fights to get the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion built.

She said the university’s honorary degree committee has recognized David Suzuki for his work over many years dating as far back as his research on the genetic structure of fruit flies.

“It’s about his entire contribution.”

She said honorary degrees are bestowed on people from a variety of backgrounds.

“Entrepreneurs have been granted honorary degrees. Ralph Klein got an honorary degree. It’s wide ranging and it should be.”

Some people are reconsidering their support of the university, but Wood said the University of Alberta Senate’s Honorary Degrees Committee is made up of variety of people including members of the public.

“The honorary degree process is lengthy and there’s wide participation. Discussions would have gone on for months. They thrash it out until they come to decisions,” said Wood who at one time worked as an executive officer for the U of A senate committee.

According to the U of A website, the committee is composed of a broad representation made of a mix of the following: the university president, representatives from the academic community, support staff, alumni association, students’ union, graduate students’ association and the community.

U of A president David Turpin said in a statement that many alumni, donors and friends have asked him to reverse the decision but the university will stand by its decision because “our reputation as a university — an institution founded on the principles of freedom of inquiry, academic integrity, and independence — depends on it.”

Red Deer College president Joel Ward said he supports Turpin and his comments about what the U of A is as an institution.

“If we want to curtail free speech then we’ll just bow down to everybody who doesn’t like something,” said Ward. “In my world good, honest debate is what a post-secondary institution is about and I would say this is causing people to have a really good discussion. People have a lot of opinions on a lot of things – it doesn’t make them right and it doesn’t make them wrong.”

Ward said it is not important whether or not he agrees with the U of A’s decision.

“I support Alberta, I support Albertans and I support the jobs that we do.”



szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Cannabis legalization won’t impact one Red Deer pot dispensary

Nothing changes for Compass Cannabis Clinic in Red Deer despite legalization

Cannabis retail store will open later in October in Red Deer

Two cannabis stores coming to downtown Red Deer

Neighbours drop opposition to Red Deer County communications tower

Communication tower to be located in Balmoral Heights

Legal cannabis comes with many unknowns: Red Deer County councillors

Councillors question how rural municipalities will be able to enforce cannabis regulations

Kitten season puts pressure on Red Deer shelter

More public education needed to control cat population

WATCH: Two weeks away from Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer

In just two weeks, Ponoka’s Shayna Weir will compete with the best… Continue reading

‘Start low, go slow’: Experts walk bud beginners through cannabis 101

With the countdown to cannabis legalization Wednesday ticking towards 4-20, some novice… Continue reading

NHL stays with status quo as Canada pot legalization looms

As Riley Cote took and delivered countless punches over more than a… Continue reading

Paul Stanley: Kiss farewell tour could include ex-members

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — It won’t be all night, but former members… Continue reading

Judge tosses Stormy Daniels’ defamation suit against Trump

WASHINGTON — A federal judge dismissed Stormy Daniels’ defamation lawsuit against President… Continue reading

Canada open to growing trade with China now that USMCA is a done deal: PM

TORONTO — Canada is open to doing more business with China now… Continue reading

Pot shop raids “highly unlikely” on Wednesday: head of police chiefs

VANCOUVER — Police departments across Canada are fully prepared for marijuana legalization… Continue reading

Campers will be able to smoke cannabis at campsites in Canada’s national parks

Parks Canada says visitors should do their research on cannabis before going… Continue reading

U.S. pot firms urge Trump to deny Canadian producers’ ‘competitive advantage’

WASHINGTON — An American cannabis producer is warning President Donald Trump that… Continue reading

Most Read