Above: From left, York Chancellor Peter Cory, honorary doctor of laws recipient Michèle Gendreau-Massaloux, York President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden and Kenneth McRoberts, principal of Glendon College
“York’s Glendon College, through its bilingualism, is an inspiration to the francophone world for respect for diversity,” said Michèle Gendreau-Massaloux, who was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree at the Gledon’s convocation ceremony June 11 for her dedication as an administrator and scholar at the postsecondary level.
Saying it was “time to embrace even more warmly the concept of variety in languages within our shared vision of the university and the role of the university in our nations”, Gendreau-Massaloux said she was honoured to speak French at Glendon as a way of honouring the college’s special role as a bilingual institution both inside York University and as a respected resource for universities around the world. A scholar and administrator in the French university system with a distinguished career in public service, Gendreau-Massaloux is currently rector of the eminent international organization, l’Agence universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF) – a position she has held since 1999.
In her remarks, Gendreau-Massaloux referred to the ongoing debate in the francophone world about the need to respect diversity and said Glendon was created to give strong knowledge and skills in English and in French. “In my opinion,” she said, “teachers and students who share this [bilingual experience] are building a more comprehensive and peaceful world.”
Gendreau-Massaloux also served as rector of l’Académie de Paris and chancellor of the Universities of Paris prior to her current post at AUF. In her career as a public servant, she has served as spokesperson for the French presidency. She is a leading scholar of Spanish literature, having begun her career as an academic with the Institute of Spanish Studies at the University of Paris-Sorbonne. Her leadership has strengthened AUF, establishing both its international reputation and financial health, drawing together more than 450 institutions internationally.
Gendreau-Massaloux explained that Canada is an example to the francophone world of how important it is to respect diversity, particularly for societies in North America that worry about losing their unique cultural and linguisitic heritage. She also cited the inspiration Canada provides to African countries that are trying to bring together disparate societies and cultures who share the French language, which she said, African countries should see as a useful tool for economic, scientific, cultural and social development instead of symbol of colonization.
She lauded Glendon for its humanity and tradition of humanism which are reflected in the high reputaion of its courses, in both French and English, in liberal arts, humanities and the social sciences. “I hope we will…develop the feeling that every culture is one of the world’s richest and thus needs to be respected and shared, and that cultural diversity is a matter for our own diversity in women and men like you and their equality before the law,” she stressed.
Kenneth McRoberts, principal of Glendon, praised Gendreau-Massaloux’s work of the past six years in building the AUF into a vibrant, financially sound organization through her determination, organizational skills, passion and intellect. “Your comments on multiculturalism and the rich diversity of la Francophonie are especially pertinent for an institution such as Glendon since its diversity is clearly reflected in our own student body,” McRoberts said. “Glendon has always drawn international students from throughout la Francophonie. Moreover, the francophone population of southern Ontario is itself a reflection of the cultural richness and diversity of ‘la Francophonie’.”