Mr. Chancellor, Madam President, Fellow Faculty, Students and Guests. I wish to express my thanks to the Senate of The University of British Columbia for conferring on me this wholly unanticipated honour, the degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa). My thanks are expressed well to those who assisted me over the years, the late Professors John F. McCreary, Harold E. Taylor, George A. Misrahy and Sydney Israels and two contemporaries, both, UBC honorary degree recipients, colleagues and friends, Prof. William A. Webber and my brother Prof. Walter G. Hardwick.
Today I would like to address preservation of Freedom of Thought and Expression and the role of the University as the key place in society that protects this freedom. I would like to begin by expressing my deep appreciation to The University for providing me a venue in which and from which I and other could work with this freedom and thus have the confidence to devote our full energy towards our social, scientific, medical, educational and other projects.
You will note that in most occupations such freedom does not exist. Many in our society are embedded in structural hierarchies with aggressive pressure to accommodate the wishes of superiors or the 'culture' of their organization. Interest in pursuing ends that in their opinion are worthy of pursuit may not precisely suit those who through recompense feel entitled to require a different and compliant action. Accommodation to other's ends requires attention to other's wishes as well as care not transgress else rewards may be withheld or worse coercive action might follow. Time and effort directed towards goals and ends of others and the limitation of ones own enthusiasms tends to blunt initiative.
Fortunately for me, and for those others who enjoy the University Forum wherein Academic Freedom is a paramount value, such negative distractions are few and the opportunity to chase ones own rainbow's end with full devotion is possible.
I've had that freedom for most of my professional life, had the chance to help patients in need, students with a thirst for Knowledge, a society yearning for leadership in areas of my own personal interests and energy. I also had the good fortune to work with Cy Finnegan years ago to codify our thoughts through the statement on Academic Freedom found now and for the past 3 decades in the UBC Calendar.
For those of you graduating today, you have had a taste of this Freedom and the opportunity to study with us, your professors who like you also remain students. You too have been blessed with this experience in one of the few truly free aspects of our increasingly economically pressurized society. Always remember this period of Freedom and do what you too can to preserve the Academic Forum.
As my students and Faculty confers all know I have a goofy sense of humor thus I cannot end without reference to my movie Idol - Leslie Nielson. In the movie "Airplane" as the terrified inexperienced pilot attempted to land a Jumbo jet in the rain and dark, Nielson repeatedly poked his head into the cockpit and uttered the reassuring words, "just wanted to let you know - We're all counting on you". At UBC for all of us that means - Tuum Est.
Thanks and Best wishes.
David F. Hardwick M.D., FRCPC, May, 2001