N.B.: The detail displayed about each honorary degree recipient varies, as
the database was compiled from a variety of sources. However, more information may
be available at the University Archives.
Convocation date: November 17, 1962
Discipline / contribution: historical research ; teaching
Citation / biographical information:
Eminent Chancellor: I take pride in presenting to you Frank Hawkins Underhill. Dr. Underhill is no stranger to this University. In 1914 he joined its Faculty as Professor of History and, save for an extended wartime absence on military service, remained here until 1927. In that year he transferred his domicile, though not his allegiance, to the city of Toronto and was Professor of History at the University of Toronto until his retirement in 1955.Degree received: Doctor of Laws
Dr. Underhill’s numerous writings in various books and learned journals have made a highly signIficant contribution to our understanding of Canadian political history, his special scholarly interest. But his attention has not been confined to the past, nor his audience to teachers and students of history. He has always been intellectually and, one might venture to say, emotionally involved in current public affairs. Unlike many academics he has dared to be controversial, to espouse causes, to engage in political activity. As a leading intellectual of the left he has commented prolifically and provocatively on public questions over the course of many years. Enriched by historical perspective, enlivened by ironic wit, his incisively critical commentaries on matters Canadian have helped us better to know ourselves.
That he is held in high esteem by his fellow scholars was shown by his election to the presidencies of the Canadian Historical Association and of Section II of the Royal Society of Canada. That he combines literary grace with intellectual distinction was indicated by the award of the Governor General’s Prize for non-fiction for his most recent book, In Search of Canadian Liberalism. The demand for his talents as a public speaker and as a commentator on radio and television is a tribute to his skill in communicating ideas.
However, it is his greatness as a teacher, I suggest, that is most worthy of recognition. He has demonstrated an unsurpassed ability to gain the admiration and affection of his students, not by showy eloquence or the calculated cultivation of popularity, but by the extent of his knowledge and the lucidity of his mind, his way of stimulating interest without instilling dogma, his unassuming modesty and unaffected charm. For these qualities those whom he taught will ever honour him.
Eminent Chancellor, on behalf of the Council and Senate, I ask that you confer on Frank H. Underhill the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
Degree presented by: Roger Graham, Professor of History
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