Michael Enright told the graduates at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland on Friday that he has learned two or three, or maybe four useful things over the years.
It was those things that Enright, host of the CBC Radio’s The Sunday Edition, decided to pass on as he addressed the spring convocation at the Pepsi Centre. About 180 Grenfell students received their degrees during the event.
Enright’s journalism career has spanned 50 years and included stints at the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star.
On Friday though, the man who never completed high school was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree.
Enright drew laughs when he talked about his educational background which included “many happy years in Grade 12.”
And followed with “but look where is has gotten me, with all this, I’ve only been in town a few hours, already I have a degree.
“You people have been working hard for years to get yours ... I haven’t had to do any work. If I stick around till four o’clock, I’ll go away with a PhD.”
But on a more serious note, Enright said one thing that he did learn in high school is you never stop learning.
“Yours is an eduction of study to be followed by the education of experience. Mine is the education of experience followed, I hope, by an ongoing education of study.”
When Enright got to the things he’s learned the list included that there are no innocent bystanders and if you come across pain in any form and do nothing to help, you’re responsible; that laughter is prayer and work is therapy; to keep looking for people with new things to teach you; not do too much planning in life and always leave room for chance; to be idealistic; that any abuse of women is a crime against humanity; to re-read a book you’d loved as a child; to learn to cook for yourself; to tell the people you love that you love them and to go easy on self criticism.
Following the convocation Enright said he chose those things “because that’s what I’ve learned. Those are the things that I find count.”
Before he got to those lessons in his address, Enright also talked about the industry he works in, how daily newspapers are on life support and how the CBC is fighting for its life. He later said he knew talking about the CBC was self-serving but important.
“We’re in terrible trouble and we work for Canadians. You guys pay my salary and it’s important to know whether you want us or not. If we still serve a purpose.”
Meanwhile, getting the degree was very important to the occasional resident of Salvage, Bonavista Bay.
“It’s great to get an honorary degree, that’s the baseline, but it is terrific to get one from the Memorial University of Newfoundland because Newfoundland is so special.
“I think I’d rather have this than Harvard,” he said.
“It’s just I love the place and I love what it does and what it hopes to do.”