November 7, 1996

Men of distinction

All robed and ready to be honoured were former Royal Victoria Hospital physician Dr. Huntingdon (Skip) Sheldon, Montreal Symphony Orchestra music director Charles Dutoit and businessman John Dobson, whose foundation created and funds the Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies in the Faculty of Management. The three were awarded honorary degrees at fall convocation on October 29.

A whistling wunderkind

For years Marco Gualtieri couldn't whistle, no matter how hard he tried. "Then in grade nine, I suddenly could. I started doing it all the time. I drove everybody at my high school completely insane."
Now a first-year McGill student in mathematics and physics, Gualtieri is a little more careful about whistling around his classmates, but he still puckers up and blows on a regular basis. You're not likely to hear him whistling the theme song from the old Andy Griffith show, however. Gualtieri is more likely to whistle pitch-perfect renditions of Mozart and Bach compositions.
Earlier this year, Gualtieri put his whistling abilities to the test, traveling to North Carolina to take part in the 1996 National Whistling Competition. He literally blew away the competition, taking the top spot in the under-20 category.
"I was surprised by the number of Canadians who were there," says Gualtieri, a Montreal native. "On the international whistling circuit, it turns out that Canadians are known to be among the best."
He plays the violin and the piano and argues that a talented whistler's gifts compare favourably to a well-played musical instrument.
Gualtieri says his real passion, however, is theoretical physics. He was one of the students who represented Canada at the International Physics Olympiad in Oslo this summer, earning a bronze medal for his efforts. "Physics is the driving force for me. Everything else is just a hobby," insists the Greville Smith scholarship winner. We get the feeling he ain't just whistling Dixie.

Publicity with a pee

If you've visited a McGill bathroom of late, you might have noticed something new. Some 240 advertisement panels, hawking everything from Chevrolets to computer software, are being placed in washrooms throughout campus. McGill recently struck a deal with ZOOM Media, an advertising firm that specializes in finding novel venues to place ads.

ZOOM already has similar agreements in place with most other Montreal universities and CEGEPs, says Chuck Adler, a manager in the Office of Physical Resources and McGill's chief liaison with ZOOM.

"They're very well regarded by the other universities," notes Adler. "Their ads are high-quality and their conduct is quite professional." McGill is charging ZOOM $15 a month per ad panel. The University vets the ads before they're placed ("No beer or cigarette ads," says Adler.) McGill also insisted that ZOOM hire McGill students to look after the panels' care. And 10% of the panels will be reserved for the University's own use.

Pop culture expert Will Straw, a communications professor, isn't surprised by the deal. "It's part of a broader trend. Look at the ads that are appearing now on subway cars and metro station turnstiles. They're adding advertisements to airplane films. The advertising industry is looking for any place where people are sitting or standing as an opportunity to pitch their products."

Is the ZOOM deal a harbinger of things to come? Can we look forward to Burger King pennants flying atop the Arts cupola or Pepsi banners attached to the Roddick Gates? "The commercialization of the lower campus isn't the next step," Adler assured the Reporter. "We won't be renting out everything we can."

For his part, Straw thinks the ZOOM ads might serve a purpose. "Everybody knows that a man having a pee at a urinal doesn't know where to direct his eyes. This gives him something to look at.