Emeritus Professors

Margaret R. Becklake

Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Professor Becklake received her medical training in South Africa and London, joining McGill's Faculty of Medicine in 1961. She has held appointments at the Royal Victoria Hospital since the 1950s, being named Senior Physician in 1974 and Honorary Physician in 1989.

The breadth of her experience in medicine, lung diseases, respiratory physiology and epidemiology has resulted in a long and distinguished series of contributions to the field of respiratory medicine and epidemiology. Professor Becklake continues to have an active research career with more than 150 publications in prestigious scientific journals, and has served as director of the Annual Summer Program of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics since 1986.

She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of London, and has received an honorary doctorate from the University of Witswatersrand in Johannesburg.

Professor Becklake has been a member of the senior committees of the Medical Research Council of Canada, the Institut de recherche en santé et sécurité au travail and the Fonds de recherche en santé du Québec. She is also a member of the editorial boards of the leading journals in the field of respiratory deseases and has been a mentor, both clinical and scientific, to generations of McGill residents, students and faculty members.

Douglas John Hall

Religious Studies

The author of 18 books and numerous articles, Douglas Hall is best known for his examination of how Christian belief has interacted with North American culture and history. He has published two books on that theme so far and the second, Professing the Faith, received the Book of the Year Award of the American Academy of Parish Clergy. The third work in that series, Confessing the Faith, is due out shortly.

Professor Hall's approach to theological scholarship searches for connections between Christian faith and the political and social issues that surround it. He argue that traditional Christian ideals can make valuable contributions to contemporary debates on issues such as the environment and human suffering.

He completed three degrees, including his doctorate, at the Union Theological Seminary in New York. He was ordained by the United Church of Canada in 1956. The founding principal of the University of Waterloo's St. Paul's United College, Professor Hall arrived at McGill in 1975, becoming an associate professor of Christian theology. He became a full professor two years later.

Professor Hall has worked extensively with the theological committees of the United Church in Canada, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the World Council of Churches. He has earned honorary degrees from Queen's University and the University of Waterloo. He has been a visiting professor at universities in Germany and Japan.

He has served on the Faculty of Religious Studies Council and on its dean's advisory and graduate committees. He has also been a member of the Arts Council and the Faculty of Graduate Studies Council. Although he formally retired last year, Hall continues to serve the Faculty of Religious Studies as a part-time teacher.

Dorothy Morton


In the 1940s, Montrealer Dorothy Morton came to McGill to study theory and composition at the Faculty of Music. She received her piano and chamber music training at the Conservatoire de musique de la province du Québec, graduating with the Diplôme des hautes études. She returned to McGill's Faculty of Music in 1967 as an assistant professor, eventually achieving the rank of full professor.

One of Canada's most prominent piano teachers, Dorothy Morton counts among her former students numerous concert artists and teachers of piano at universities across North America. Many of her students have won major competitions and were recipients of Canada Council and Quebec government grants.

Professor Morton is noted for chamber music master classes given at McGill and at other centres across Canada and the United States. She is an active adjudicator in this country for music competitions and for the Canada Council. She acts as a juror for undergraduate and graduate examinations at McGill, Université de Montréal, Concordia, the University of Ottawa and the Conservatoire de musique de la province du Québec.

She is also a member of the well-known piano team, the Morton-Master Duo, which has been acclaimed and admired for concert performances, radio broadcasts and a number of recordings.

Baldev Raj Nayar

Political Science

After earning two degrees from Panjab University in India, Baldev Raj Nayar traveled to the University of Chicago where he did his master's and doctoral degrees. He arrived at McGill in 1964 as an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science, becoming a full professor in 1971.

Professor Nayar, who recently retired, is internationally respected for his scholarship on comparative politics and developing area studies. He is the author of several seminal books about politics in India. Minority Politics in the Punjab, a book he published in 1966, was a co-winner of the American Historical Association's Watamull Prize. According to scholars such as Princeton University's Atul Kohli, Nayar's early work on Sikh politics "remains to this date the standard work to which anyone writing on that theme returns."

Professor Nayar's two-volume study India's Quest for Technological Independence (1983) was described in the Journal of Development Studies as an "invaluable and necessary reference to all those concerned with technology policy in the Third World."

His most recent work, The State and International Aviation in India: Performance and Policy on the Eve of Aviation Globalization, prompted the influential Indian newspaper, The Times of India, to call for a close examination of India's aviation policy in a recent editorial. He is the author of 11 books in all.

In his department, Professor Nayar has served as the director of graduate studies and as the chair of the dissertation committee. He has also been a member of the University's tenure committee and of the executive committee of the Centre for Developing Area Studies, as well as a member of the board of directors of the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute.

Ivan Vlasic


Born in Italy, Ivan Vlasic pursued legal studies at Yugoslavia's University of Zagreb, McGill and Yale Law School. He joined McGill's Faculty of Law in 1963 and retired last August after 33 years of teaching at McGill.

For several years, Professor Vlasic was McGill's principal instructor of public international law. He served from 1971 to 1975 as director of the McGill Institute of Air and Space Law and was a mainstay of the institute throughout his entire McGill career.

As a researcher, Professor Vlasic is noted for his contributions to scholarship on international disarmament and international space law. He prepared two important reports for the United Nations--one on remote sensing, the other on the establishment of an international satellite monitoring agency--which have helped influence the discussions at the UN on these subjects. He has frequently served as a consultant to UN organizations and to the Canadian government.

His research has also focused on the legality and control of weapons of mass destruction. He is currently updating a seminal book he co-authored with Myers McDougal and Harold Lasswell entitled Law and Public Order in Space. Professor Vlasic has served on the national council for the Canadian section of the International Commission of Jurists and for the Canadian branch of the International Law Association.

He is also recognized as a talented mentor to master's and doctoral students. According to Dean of Law Stephen Toope, "Very few professors of law in Canada will have directed more graduate students than Professor Vlasic."

Patrick Dias

Curriculum and Instruction

After earning a master's degree from the University of Karachi, Patrick Dias did his PhD at Université de Montréal. He joined McGill in 1970 as an associate professor. In 1976, he was named chair of the Department of Education in English and in 1989 became a full professor.

Although Professor Dias has formally retired, he is still the lead researcher on a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant dealing with the requirements and practice of writing in professions such as engineering, medicine and management.

The founder of the Centre for the Study and Teaching of Writing, he served as the unit's director from 1979 to 1992 and played a leading role in establishing the centre's popular "Effective Written Communication" courses which are used by students in several different faculties. Professor Dias and the team of teachers at the centre published a book entitled Writing for Ourselves, Writing for Others.

He has produced a long and impressive list of conference papers, journal articles and book chapters and his research looks at ways to encourage strong writing skills. In 1991, the Canadian Council of Teachers of English named Professor Dias the winner of the Merron Chorney Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Teaching of English.

As a graduate teacher, Professor Dias advised several master's and PhD students who have gone on to distinguished careers in education. He served on a range of departmental and faculty committees. He has also been a member on the boards of directors for the Association of Teachers of English in Quebec and the Thomas More Institute for Adult Education and the editor of the Quebec Reading Council's publication, Dialogues.

Walter O. Spitzer

Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Professor Spitzer studied medicine at the University of Toronto, and completed graduate degrees in medical health administration at the School of Business at the University of Michigan and in epidemiology and public health at Yale. He has been a scientist and educator in the health sciences and an academic administrator since 1970.

His interests are wide-ranging--he has studied and written about topics as diverse as environmental health hazards, the role of nurse practitioners, the risks associated with birth control pills, bias in clinical and epidemiologic research, and quality of life measurement and validation. In fact, he developed one of the first indexes of quality of life measurement, which is still used today in clinical research.

He has always been an innovator, throughout his career initiating efforts that have led to new developments in his field of epidemiology. Professor Spitzer was instrumental in helping create the two major departments of epidemiology in Canada, namely the Health Services Research Unit at McMaster University and the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McGill, which he chaired from 1984 until 1993.

Appointed Senior Physician at both the Montreal General Hospital (1975) and the Royal Victoria Hospital (1985), he is also associate director of the McGill Cancer Centre. Professor Spitzer is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

John Macnamara


Sadly, one distinguished McGill scholar who was to be named an emeritus professor this spring, psychology professor John Macnamara, passed away in January after an extended illness.

Originally a Catholic priest, the Irish-born Professor Macnamara quit the clergy and established himself as an internationally respected authority on language learning and bilingualism.

He began his McGill career in 1969, and his early work contributed substantially to the study of both the theoretical and practical aspects of language acquisition. In the course of his career he published about 80 papers and seven books, including Language Learning and Thought, Names for Things and A Border Dispute: The Place of Logic in Psychology. He was a Fellow of both the Canadian Psychological Association and the Royal Society of Canada.

Professor Anthony Marley, chair of the Department of Psychology, paid tribute to Macnamara at the March 6 meeting of Senate:

"John's broad knowledge of psychology, philosophy and linguistics was a major factor [in] the depth of his contributions. He was a scholar rich in ideas, persistent in the exploration of controversial ideas and a credit to the academic community. In John Macnamara's writings, one finds the sometimes unfashionable conviction that the mind of the child is extraordinarily rich and complex.

"He wrote about an extraordinary variety of topics, from the nature of free will to the demise of Freudian psychoanalysis to what formal logic has to say about the Holy Trinity. He wrote with style and wit, and most of his work is directed to the educated public; it is not crafted for a small group of fellow scholars.

"Many people disagreed with John, but he expressed his ideas with such skill, logic and charm, that others respected both him and his ideas.

"John Macnamara was extremely committed to teaching. During the past several years he taught courses in the history of psychology and in contemporary psychological theory. These courses that under others might be seen as dry came to life when John taught them, and students sought him out in these and other courses."