On behalf of the Society, I would like to thank John and Chris for all their efforts in support of SAFS and its goals. Both have been active in a variety of roles as President and as Newsletter Editor, as writers and speakers, and as benefactors.
I first met John about 25 years ago at an Undergraduate Thesis Conference, when both of us were professors of the senior research thesis course at our universities. I don’t remember the details of what we talked about but I still remember my first impression: John was sure of himself -- very, very sure of himself. I didn’t know what to make of that extraordinary self-confidence at the time, but I have since decided that the reason John always seems so sure of himself is because he thinks through problems carefully and fully, seemingly writing a short paper about every argument he’s ever had with anyone. Seldom does one get a response from John that doesn’t include the phrase ‘…but see the attached files.’
John is also cool under the pressure of debate. At the 1992 University in Jeopardy conference, John was a panel member who had apparently aroused the ire of an audience member who took a great deal of time to criticize John for his motives, bad intentions, misguided notions, and the like. John replied to the critic’s ad hominem attack with a devastating retort: The issue isn’t whether my motives are pure but whether my arguments are correct. Silence followed, and everyone realized that the critic had not made one counterargument against John.
Some of you may think that on occasion John can be abrasive, but I believe that that is John’s unique way of showing affection. He and I were both invited to appear on Michael Coren’s show to talk about preferential hiring in universities. Two other profs were invited to defend preferences. While we were walking the hallway before the show, plotting our strategy as to how we planned to win the debate, John said something that I wanted to add to. Instead of the expected ‘great thought Clive,’ John replied harshly ‘don’t interrupt me.’ I quickly rationalized: ‘Wow he only treats his friends like this.'
One of John’s favorite sparring partners in recent years was Robert Birgeneau, the former president of the University of Toronto. John tried valiantly to socialize his president on the right way to think about diversity and merit and the purpose of the university. I don’t think John was all that successful, but John had a grudging admiration for Birgeneau that expressed itself oddly, I think. On more than one occasion John referred to Birgeneau as handsome in a Cary Grant sort-of-way. We do not have the time here to delve into the Freudian implications of this characterization, but we do have a gift that is appropriate. John I’d like to present you with a framed photograph of Bob Birgeneau that you could place on your night stand.
I would also like to highlight John’s brilliant analysis of contrasting totalitarianism of the iron-fisted, Stalinist type with Political Correctness as totalitarianism clothed in a velvet glove. I’m proud to say that after a great deal of work I was able to obtain the original velvet glove that has been kept in a safe in the headquarters of the National Women’s Organization. I present you with the Velvet Glove. Use it wisely!
We also have a couple of other gifts that you and Chris can enjoy when you’re settled in Sydney. Here’s a book of Canadian Jokes that we hope will help you remember Canada fondly, and here’s another humor book, entitled, ‘Why I hate Canadians’ which will help reinforce your reasons for leaving Canada.
Best of luck from all of us for a wonderful life in Australia.