I have the honour to present Alexander Gordon McKay, B.A. (Hons.), Toronto, M.A. (Yale), A.M., Ph.D. (Princeton), President of the Royal Society of Canada.
Dr. McKay was educated at Upper Canada College and at Trinity College, University of Toronto, where he embarked on what was to be a lifelong study of the classical, and especially the Roman, world. His graduate work, at Yale and Princeton Universities, was in classical philology, and his early distinction was recognized through the award to him of the Martin Kellogg Fellowship at Yale, and of Woodrow Wilson and University Fellowships at Princeton.
After completing his doctorate in 1950, Dr. McKay held a number of positions: at the University of Pennsylvania, Mount Allison University, Waterloo College of the University of Western Ontario, and twice, from 1951-52 and from 1955-57 at The University of Manitoba. Since 1957 he has been a member of the Department of Classics at McMaster University, where he has also served as Chairman of the Department from 1962 to 1968, and as founding Dean of the Faculty of Humanities from 1968 to 1973.
Dr. McKay's interests have spread across the spectrum of classical studies: dramatic arts, poetry, satire, archeology, numismatics, architecture, to all of which he has contributed of his learning and wisdom. His publication list - books, contributions to books, journal articles and book reviews - is long and distinguished. Among his major works are Naples and Campania (1962), Vergil's Italy (1970), Ancient Campania, 2 volumes (1972), Houses, Villas and Palaces in the Roman World (1975) and Vitruvius, Architect and Engineer (1978).
A man of great energy, Dr. McKay has served or is serving on numerous committees of the American Philological Association, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, the Canada Council, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the lNational Library of Canada, and the Vergilian Society. He has been a contributing editor of The Classical World and of Vergilius and honorary editor of the Proceedings and Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada. He was president of the Vergilian Society from 1972 to 1974, and of the Classical Association of Canada from 1978 to 1980.
Dr. McKay's interests transcend the already broad boundaries of the classical world. He has taken part in theatrical productions; he lists 'pianoforte' among his recreations; he has been president of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, and he is the author of Victorian Architecture in Hamilton.
Over the years many people have enjoyed Dr. McKay's lectures at the Vergilian Society's Classical Summer School, Cumae, Italy. It is most apt that among his many honours, too numerous to detail here, is a Merit Award for Distinguished Teaching, of the Classical Association of the Middle West and South. Dr. McKay was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1965, was awarded the Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977, the Centennial Medal of the Royal Society of Canada in 1982, and an Isaac Walton Killam Senior Fellowship in 1979. He was a Visiting Member of the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton in 1979 and 1981. In 1984, Dr. McKay became President of the Royal Society of Canada.
During his career, Dr. McKay has exemplified the dual calling of the academic, and has distinguished himself both in teaching and in scholarly research. His broad range of activities has extended even further, to academic administration and to public service. Indeed, if it is not a paradox to say this about a classicist, he is a real renaissance man!
Madam Chancellor, it is an honour and a privilege for me to ask, in the name of the Senate of The University of Manitoba, that you confer upon Alexander Gordon McKay the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.