Honorary degree recipients offer words of wisdom to the class of 2022

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Dr Neville Poy (right) and Alan Emtage and Owen EganJoni Dufour

As part of the fall 2022 convocation ceremonies, held October 26 at Place des Arts, McGill awarded honorary degrees to two very talented and committed individuals who inspire its community of students, faculty, researchers and staff: Alan Emtage and Dr. Neville Poy. Click on the videos below to hear their speeches.

Stephen Alan Emtage

B.Sc., M.Sc. (McGill University)

Doctor of Science, honoris causa (D.Sc.)

Stephen Alan Emtage came to McGill in 1983 from his native Barbados as an undergraduate scholarship student. When he left college less than a decade later, he had not only earned two degrees, but had established himself as one of the pioneers of innovation in the internet age.

While studying at McGill, Emtage worked as a systems administrator for the School of Computer Science. Although the Internet is still in its infancy, there were already millions of files hosted on servers around the world. The problem, Emtage realized, was the lack of an easy way to quickly explore this growing wealth of information. He had the idea to index the internet and created Archie, which we now recognize as the world’s first search engine. What once took hours and hours of manual research could now be done in seconds.

After graduation, Emtage and Peter J. Deutsch co-founded Bunyip Information Systems, Inc., the world’s leading company dedicated to Internet information services. Emtage went on to play a leading role in the evolution of web technologies. He was a founding member of the Internet Society, a nonprofit organization that promotes the development of the Internet as a global technical infrastructure, which formalized many of the web technology standards used today. He chaired several working groups within the Internet Engineering Task Force, including co-chairing the Uniform Resource Identifier working group, which created the standard for Uniform Resource Locators – more commonly known as URLs – the standard by which sites Web are accessible to date. He has served on advisory boards for organizations such as the National Science Foundation and the Library of Congress.

Emtage has also proven himself to be a visionary when it comes to realizing the internet’s potential to advance social good. In the 1990s, his web development company, Mediapolis, while working primarily for a range of clients from startups to multinational corporations, dedicated significant resources, free of charge, enabling most major LGBT organizations in the United States to create and maintain a presence on the Internet.

In 2017, Alan Emtage became the first Barbadian and the first person from the Caribbean to be inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame. This prestigious lifetime achievement award recognizes his groundbreaking contributions to the Internet age, as well as his dedication to the spirit of selflessness and collaboration.

Dr. Neville G. Poy, OC

B.Sc., MDCM, M.Sc. (McGill University)

Doctor of Science, honoris causa (D.Sc.)

Dr. Neville Poy has a deep connection to McGill University, beginning with his time as a student and growing to include roles as visiting professor, committed volunteer and passionate ambassador for his alma mater.

As a child, Neville Poy moved to Canada with his family from their native Hong Kong. After completing his studies at McGill, Dr. Poy embarked on a long career in the field of plastic surgery. He specialized in the treatment and research of severe burns at Scarborough General Hospital’s pioneering burn unit, long the only such unit in Canada, and earned a reputation for treating his patients with unparalleled compassion and kindness.

He has distinguished himself both in his professional practice and in his ability to give back to the community, to his peers and to the next generation of medical practitioners. He was president of the plastic surgery section of the Ontario Medical Association, was active in the Scarborough General Hospital Medical Society and the Health Research and Development Council of Ontario, held several leadership positions at the Scarborough General Hospital and has dedicated his time to advancing the work of the North American Lipolysis Society, the Canada China Child Health Foundation and the Canadian Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgical Facilities.

In addition to teaching as a visiting professor, Dr. Poy has remained engaged with McGill by serving on the Dean’s Medical Advisory Council of the Faculty of Medicine and leading philanthropic efforts for the Faculty of Medicine.

Medicine is not the only area in which Dr. Poy has excelled. In 1995, he retired from his surgical practice, feeling “I had contributed everything I could to our hospital, to the plastic surgery community, and to our city community.” He renewed his interest in photography, a lifelong passion since he received his first camera at the age of 11. Since then, he has organized numerous exhibitions of his photographs, notably in galleries at the universities of Victoria and Toronto, and has been honorary president of photographic and artistic exhibitions. on China, a 2002 initiative sponsored by the Federation of Chinese Canadians.

Dr. Poy has received numerous awards and honours, including the grant of the Queen’s Arms, a lifetime appointment to the Queen’s York Rangers, and Officer of the Order of Canada and Officer of the Order of Saint Jean.


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