The University’s longest standing orator, Maurice Elliott, has contributed a body of work that includes over 170 citations honouring the installation and farewell of chancellors and presidents, honorary degree recipients, University and Distinguished Research Professors and more. Today, Elliott will himself be honoured during York’s Spring Convocation ceremonies.
A University Professor Emeritus and master of Winters College from 1979 to 1989, Elliott’s significant contribution as University orator from 1987 to 2004 will be acknowledged with a newly-published, 231-page volume of his citations, a brilliant red and gold book simply titled, Citations: Maurice Slater Elliott. It has been said he elevated the delivery of citations to a memorable art form.
Right: Maurice Elliott
In the preface, Elliott writes, “Oratory is dangerous! Had Cicero been in the auspicious position of foreseeing Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney’s words, ‘Whatever you say, say nothing’, he might have kept his head and his hands.”
Despite the inherent risk in being an orator, Elliott has delivered citations for writers, musicians, dancers, politicians, poets, business leaders, lawyers and scientists, including Rohinton Mistry, Lister Sinclair, Edwin and David Mirvish, Bruce Cockburn, Martha Henry, Anne Golden, Roberta Bondar, Marc Garneau, Nelson Mandela, Dave Brubeck, Timothy Findley, Michael Clemons, Joan Chalmers, Ramsay Cook and many more.
As York President Emeritus Harry W. Arthurs says, Elliott outlasted four presidents and half a dozen chancellors. Given a chance, he would nominate Elliott as a charter member for a Hall of Fame for University Orators, if such an institution existed.
Born in 1937 in London, England, Elliott was educated at Christ’s College, Cambridge University, and received his PhD from the University of Toronto. As a professor of English at York since 1966, Elliott primarily researched and taught the poetry of the Romantic period, as well as Irish writing. He served as chair of the Department of English from 1993 to 1999 and as chair of Senate from 1998 to 1999.