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: May 17, 1973
Discipline / contribution: neuroanatomy
Citation / biographical information:
Eminent Chancellor, on behalf of the Council and Senate, I present to you Murray Llewellyn Barr, a distinguished Canadian scientist and teacher.Degree received: Doctor of Laws
Dr. Barr was born on a farm near London, Ontario and, except for brief periods, has studied, lived and worked in that region of our country all his life. All his endeavors have been marked by high achievement: during his student days he was President of the University Students’ Council; when he obtained his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Western Ontario, he was awarded the Gold Medal in Honors Science; on graduation from Medical School he won the Prize in Clinical Clerkship.
After a brief period in general practice he returned to the University of Western Ontario for further study in the field of Neuroanatomy, and in due course received the degree of Master of Science. That was 1938. He spent the war years in Canada and England in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps and the Royal Canadian Air Force, rising to the rank of Wing Commander.
His interest in aviation did not end when he returned to academic life at the University of Western Ontario. He remained in an advisory capacity with the Panel on Aviation Medicine of the Defence Research Board, and indeed, his early research dealt with relationships between the nervous system and fatigue in air crews.
As will happen in science, something quite different developed. In 1949, together with a graduate student, now Professor Ewart G. Bertram, he discovered the sex chromatin characterizing female body cells. This important observation led Dr. Barr and other scientists from all over the world into fruitful work on human chromosomes, eventually shedding new light on congenital abnormalities and mental retardation.
At the same time Dr. Barr contributed to the life of his University in every possible way, from Chairmanship of the Department of Anatomy to President of the University Athletic Association. He has been on all sorts of University
and National advisory boards.
His contributions to science have been recognized by a very long list of honors and awards. Among them are the Borden Award of the Association of American Colleges, the Fiavelle Medal of the Royal Society of Canada for original work of especially conspicuous merit, the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation Award for outstanding studies in mental retardation, membership in the Royal Society of Canada, the Royal Society of London and Honorary degrees from numerous Universities. He is an officer of the Order of Canada.
Among his colleagues, Murray Barr is known as a distinguished anatomist, a superb teacher who cares about students and who gets satisfaction from teaching, and as an outstanding scientist. He is a true gentleman, who has respect and time for his fellow men.
Eminent Chancellor, I present to you Murray Llewellyn Barr and ask that you will confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
Degree presented by: Sergey Fedoroff, Head of Anatomy
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