Clear vision

I am writing to comment on the interview with Principal Shapiro in the Winter 1998-99 issue of the McGill News. I am continually impressed by Principal Shapiro, a talented man with vision and vigour. I was particularly impressed by his comments about "the controversial Bouchard trip." There is a paucity of Canadian news where I live and I had not heard about the trip before reading the article.

I commend the Principal on his views, and chastise alumni who were outraged by the Principal's participation. He is fully aware of Bouchard's political position, and is attempting to work within the system to provide McGill with a bright and prosperous future. His vision reminds me of my late uncle, David Holtzman, an important member of the Jewish business community in Montreal. As far back as 1972, he pleaded with his colleagues not to abandon the province that their immigrant parents had called home. He knew that the removal of investments and business opportunities from Quebec would precipitate a downward economic and political spiral that would ultimately hurt all Québécois, regardless of their mother tongue.

He believed that as a member of a minority group living in a democratic society, the preservation of that society requires confidence in both the system and its elected leadership. Moreover, he believed that the preservation and protection of Quebec demands the understanding, cooperation and involvement of all community leaders. Principal Shapiro appears to hold similar beliefs and is clearly looking out for McGill's best interests.

I also agree with the Principal's views on the importance of international students. The declining value of the Canadian dollar, the exorbitant cost of higher education in the U.S., the high quality of Canadian universities and their proximity to several large U.S. cities have made the choice of a Canadian university a popular alternative for many Americans. I have been approached by several colleagues who are considering a Canadian school for their son or daughter.

McGill should actively recruit students from Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, states with large populations of reasonably affluent residents who are searching for alternatives to the costly U.S. system.

I will gladly promote McGill at any recruiting event in my area. I spent ten years at McGill, earned two degrees, participated in student government, in extracurricular activities, and won a variety of academic and non-academic awards. As such, I sincerely believe I could be a more active alumnus, a useful recruiting tool and an effective University ambassador.

Paul A. White, BSc'89, PhD'96
North Kingstown, Rhode Island

In praise of Parent

Congratulations for the article by Hélèna Katz, "Fighting for the Right." I was particularly inspired by the courage and energy of Madeleine Parent and how she persevered despite many defeats. Please extend to her my utmost respect for her commitment to human rights, as well as my congratulations for all the advances she has struggled for.

Linda August, BSW'74, MSW'76
Montreal, Que.

Not a good move

Could the class president of Medicine '41, a recipient of the Alumni Annual Award in Lorne Gales's day, an honorary DSc nominated by the Alumni Association, make a comment on the real estate developers' dream of replacing McGill's present teaching hospitals by one huge structure down by the railroad tracks?

Having played rugby on the alleged grass by those tracks on Saturdays while a medical student, I can still recall the scars from the cinders. The ground is now said to be polluted, making a clean-up and ground removal a mandatory and prolonged affair. As I understand it, the University has only an option to buy this site, which is a relief to hear. May McGill never acquire it!

It makes my stomach turn to think that the post-WWII work by Air-Vice-Marshal Frank McGill and his committee, to raise the then enormous sum to relocate the Montreal General Hospital to the northwest border of the McGill campus, is forgotten so easily. The Royal Victoria Hospital, built to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, sits on land donated for that purpose alone, and no other -- certainly not for pricey condominiums.

More important, the RVH became one of McGill's internationally respected teaching hospitals. Thanks to that incomparable Dean of Medicine, Dr. Charles Martin, the Rockefeller Foundation endowed a University Professorship of Medicine there, held for many productive years by Dr. Jonathan Meakins -- clinician, researcher, dean, mover and shaker in community organizations, and Director General of Army Medical Services in World War II.

Another Rockefeller benefaction, matched by Montreal citizens, produced in 1934 the Montreal Neurological Institute. The talented Harvard medical student-researcher, Alan Gregg, rose to the headship of the Medical Division of the Rockefeller Foundation and constantly reminded university presidents that if clinicians were separated from basic scientists by more than "bare-headed distance" there would be little, if any, interaction, and disease would remain unconquered. He found his ideal in the Montreal Neurological Institute as he stated so clearly at its 25th anniversary in 1959.

Whenever hospital-based mendicants would quote him the fact that Johns Hopkins was not on the main campus of the university, or that Harvard's medical school was not on the Harvard University campus, he would tell them that such costly historical separation might, in view of the universities, still be overcome.

A great medical school such as McGill relies on its on-campus research scientist, in physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, psychology, earth sciences and ethics -- which today are close at hand. Why should the removal of its future patients, both local and worldwide, to a railway yard at enormous cost and with questionable results for all, even be considered?

William C. Gibson, MSc'36, MDCM'41, DipMed'48
Victoria, B.C.

Killer instinct

I enjoyed Cleo Paskal's "Epilogue" piece on her experiences as a travel journalist (Winter 1998-99). However, when I tried out a bit of her trivia on the wife of a friend at a Christmas party -- "Did you know that hippos kill more people than any other mammal in Africa?" -- without missing a beat, she shot back: "Except man."

Warren Stevenson, MA'54
Vancouver, B.C.

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