Columns

From the category archives: Dr. Gerry Turcotte

Dr. Gerry Turcotte

Angle of Death puts reporter on notice

Dr. Gerry Turcotte

October 20, 2014

A recent CBC segment featured a radio host who explained that she had received death threats following an unexpectedly controversial news story. The letter, she said, was filled with spelling errors and it was signed: the Angle of Death! Which, let's be honest, is not quite as scary as an Angel of Death, except perhaps for Grade 6 students studying geometry. The anecdote reminded me of a Michel de Montaigne quote: "The greater part of the world's troubles are due to questions of grammar." This in turn invoked a funny line by Jennifer Crusie: "His sentences didn't seem to have any verbs, which was par for a politician. All nouns, no action."

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Jesus used parables to challenge his hearers with a radical message

Dr. Gerry Turcotte

September 22, 2014

Few people would deny the importance of education. This week I had the pleasure of welcoming a record number of new students to the St. Mary's orientation. It was a thrill both to watch the excited faces in the crowd and to observe the educational styles of the many speakers who came forward to greet our students: from campus ministry to student advisor to the president of the student legislative council. What struck me most about our event was the range of rhetorical techniques the speakers used to communicate with the audience.

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A gift of plagues for our supporters and a cross-eyed bear for Jesus

Dr. Gerry Turcotte

August 25, 2014

Of all the columns I have written over the years, a few seem to have had special resonance, though perhaps none more so that my column about typographical errors.Readers may remember that I began by admitting my own most embarrassing moment when I wrote to my then faculty with the salutation, "Good morning Dead Colleagues," instead of "Dear Colleagues.".

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Few events are as exciting as a convocation

Dr. Gerry Turcotte

July 7, 2014

Like many of my fellow presidents I had the honour recently of speaking at our university's convocation. As so often happens, I spent a fair amount of time thinking about the structure of the event, what my speech would focus on and how we would ensure that our students had a perfect day. Once the event was over, though, I was struck (as I always am) by the sense of shared joy that permeated the reception.

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Fatherhood a gift that calls dads to love, guide, inspire

Dr. Gerry Turcotte

June 9, 2014

I never got to speak to my father as he lay dying. Quite simply, he was the most important figure in my life, a humble, funny and deeply honourable individual, a unique person who could discipline without anger, inspire without fanfare, and who kept the ship afloat no matter how bad the seas. Despite a desperately poor upbringing and a difficult life, he managed to steer his family through good and bad times and to ensure that we had all the necessities of life.

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Moveable feasts and liberal arts education

Dr. Gerry Turcotte

April 28, 2014

In Ernest Hemingway's most popular posthumous publication, A Moveable Feast (1964), the American writer stated that: "If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast." For Hemingway, the phrase captured the spontaneity, the diversity and the magic of the 1920s Left Bank where the Picassos rubbed shoulders with the Chagalls and the Joyces, and creativity in its many magical forms flourished.

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Lenten restraint has consequences

Dr. Gerry Turcotte

March 3, 2014

As a child I never quite understood the meaning of Lent. It was clear in my young mind that it had something to do with brutal sacrifice. How else to explain giving up my beloved sweets for what seemed an immeasurably long period of time. I did try once or twice to convince my parents that giving up vegetables would be infinitely more useful and that it would save my mother needless cooking, but, mysteriously, they never supported my suggestion.

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Times of darkness are when we most need to trust in the lord

Dr. Gerry Turcotte

February 17, 2014

At Christmas last year a dear friend, knowing my family was going through a difficult time, put together a remarkable care package: gifts for my children, beautiful wine, books and more.

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Good morning fools and dead colleagues!

Dr. Gerry Turcotte

January 20, 2014

Recently a senior member of the university's legal firm sent an email to us. It began, "Hi Fools"! This is not an inspiring salutation first thing in the morning, and especially so from a lawyer working on a sensitive matter.

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Despite imperfections, calendars bring us to moments of celebration

Dr. Gerry Turcotte

December 23, 2013

The end of one year and the beginning of another is strange in anyone's language. Enormous energy is expended preparing for a transition time that is, let's be honest, fictional at best.

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