Honorary Degree Citation - David Jay Bercuson

by Stephen Scheinberg, June 1998

Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you David Jay Bercuson, historian, author, teacher.

He is a native of Montreal and a graduate of Sir George Williams University, (B.A. Honours, 1966). As an undergraduate, Dr. Bercuson received the Lieutenant-Governor's Silver Medal for History. He went on to complete his Master of Arts in 1967 at the University of Toronto, followed in 1971 by a PhD, also at the University of Toronto. His doctoral dissertation, titled Labour in Winnipeg: The Great War and the General Strike, was later expanded and published by McGill-Queen's University Press.

Mr. Chancellor, I knew when I rejected Concordia's generous early retirement offer that there were still many happy and satisfying moments to come. This is certainly one of them. I take pride in welcoming back, and presenting to you, one of my former students, who has had an outstanding career as an historian, administrator and, not least, as political commentator.

David Bercuson left here a Quebecker and a social democrat, and returns 30 years later as a voice for Western Canada and a small-c conservative. This offers solid proof that we teach our students to think - not to think like us.

Dr. Bercuson is noted for his significant contributions to the study of Canadian history, particularly the nation's history between the years 1860 and 1950. II est l'auteur de plusieurs analyses provocatrices donnant un aperçu sur l'unité canadienne, et sur la structure et l'avenir des provinces au sein de la fédération canadienne. Il s'est également imposé par ses travaux sur le racisme et sur l'éducation supérieure.

Since 1970, Dr. Bercuson has taught at the University of Calgary. He is today a Professor of History and the Director of the Strategic Studies Program. He served as the Dean of Graduate Studies from 1989 to 1996. Dr. Bercuson was a Killam Resident Fellow in 1981 and a Killam Research Fellow between 1985 and 1987. In 1988, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

In collaboration with distinguished historians and educators, Jack Granatstein and Robert Bothwell, Dr. Bercuson published The Great Brain Robbery in 1984, a stinging indictment of the university system which became a controversial bestseller amid media uproar. The three collaborated again for the 1997 follow-up, titled Petrified Campus, a critical look at where the system is headed. The book has been called both a cri de coeur and a call for change.

Mr. Chancellor, in recognition of the breadth of his knowledge of military affairs, evident in his numerous appearances in the media as an analyst and scholarly commentator, particularly in discussions about the so-called Somalia Affair, Dr. Bercuson served in 1997 as special advisor to the Minister of National Defense on the Future of the Canadian Forces. He is now a member of the Minister's Monitoring Committee on Change in the Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defense.

M. Bercuson a écrit, co-écrit ou dirigé la publication de plus d'une trentaine de ouvrages académiques et populaires. He is the author of several scholarly articles on subjects ranging from industrial relations to foreign policy, Canada's wartime experiences and battles and settling the West.

Mr. Chancellor, it is my privilege and great pleasure to present to you, on behalf of Senate and the Board of Governors, David Jay Bercuson, so that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.