By Brett Hooton
Of course the big names are there: Laurier, Macdonald, Rutherford. That’s to be expected when these familiar monikers grace buildings, monuments and streets signs across McGill and Montreal.
More surprising is the number of “unorthodox” nominations for the McGill Alumni Association (MAA)’s Greatest McGillians contest. Entries have ranged from current students and professors to anonymous “future McGillians” and landmarks like the Three Bares statue.
“I thought we would receive mostly historical figures,” MAA Senior Executive Director Honora Shaughnessy said. “I see now that everyone comes at their definition of a Great McGillian in a very personal way.”
The MAA launched Greatest McGillians last month as a way to celebrate the University’s 190th anniversary. A worldwide email broadcast on Feb. 21 called for nominations. It also featured a JibJab-style rendition of “Hail Alma Mater,” sung by a veritable Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band of notable graduates, professors and benefactors.
Since then, more than 500 nominations have poured in, with James McGill and William Shatner garnering the most nods so far.
“I think the beauty of doing an online project like this is that people can respond immediately,” Shaughnessy explained. “You can submit whoever pops into your head, which leads to a lot of interesting entries.”
After the nomination process closes on April 30, a list of 10 finalists will be announced and a popular vote will take place throughout the summer. The Greatest McGillian will be revealed in early September.
“I think it’s just a fun exercise to take five minutes out of your day to reflect on what makes someone’s contribution to history, society or the University significant,” Shaughnessy said. “And then you can nominate that person as the Greatest McGillian.”
To learn more about the Greatest McGillians contest, visit aoc.mcgill.ca/greatest-mcgillians.