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.
Name: Wilder Penfield, O.M., C.M.G., D.Litt., M.A., M.D., D.Sc., D.M., D.C.L., D.de o’U, LL.D., F.R.S.C. , F.R.C.S., F.R.S.
Convocation date: September 29, 1959
Special Convocation: Golden Jubilee Convocation
Discipline / contribution: neurology ; neurosurgery
Citation / biographical information:
Eminent Chancellor: I present to you Canada’s outstanding medical statesman and one of the world’s leading investigators of certain vital mechanisms of the human brain. For sheer interest and variety the lives of few scientists today surpass the story of Wilder Penfield. This son of a doctor of the American North-West received from Princeton University his first degree, the B.Litt., and his first appointment that of football coach. He studied medicine at Johns Hopkins and as Rhodes Scholar at Oxford came under the spell of the great physiologist, Charles Sherrington. Further study and research in London, France, Germany and Spain gave close contact with the most active minds investigating neural structure and function. It was inevitable that throughout his career as a neurosurgeon he would constantly re late his clinical experience to the great gaps in basic neurology.Degree received: Doctor of Laws
Even the misfortunes of war brought unique companionship and stimulus. In 1916 he convalesced from wounds at the Open Arms -- the home of Sir William Osler, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford. This great Canadian physician, bibliophile and humanitarian, undoubtedly catalyzed the growth of the young American’s literary and historical taste. It may even have conditioned his cerebral reflexes to favorable response in 1928 when McGill University invited him to leave New York. This week we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Opening of the Montreal Neurological Institute, with Dr. Penfield as its Director and Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill. In these few years Dr. Penfield and the late W.V. Cone built a centre for the healing of the sick, for the training of specialists and for the advancement of knowledge which is pre-eminent today. In most corners of the globe men trained at the M.N.I. give exemplary medical care and emulate their leader in teaching and research.
Dr. Penfield has over two hundred publications, including six monographs and one historical novel. His many awards include the Order of Merit, 1953. In education, from foreign language teaching in primary schools to the financing of research in universities, he has led with conspicuous success. He initiated the movement which now brings physicians of both Canadian tongues together in amicable, constructive effort; and in medical missions to Russia, China and India he has advanced the reputation of this country.
Eminent Chancellor, on behalf of the Senate of the University I ask that you confer on Wilder Penfield the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
Degree presented by: J. Wendell Macleod, Dean of Medicine
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