Honouree, Western University apologize for controversial remarks during convocation address

Western University issued an apology Tuesday after an address by an honouree at a fall convocation ceremony raised eyebrows among faculty members.

Businessman, philanthropist and producer Aubrey Dan received an honorary doctor of laws degree during the event on Friday, Oct. 26.

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While addressing the gathered graduates as well as their families and faculty members, Dan reminisced about how he decided to transfer to Western in the early 1980s, citing the influence of an article in Playboy magazine.

“According to Playboy magazine, at that time, the women (at Western) are among the best in North America, and obviously they still are,” Dan said in part on Friday.

“My comment was in reference to a compliment and nothing else,” Dan said in an apology Tuesday. “I am an egalitarian.”

Dan also said he’s sorry anyone was offended by the comments in his speech, which was far from his intention.

“My remarks were made to provide a context of what went through my 19-year-old mind when deciding back in 1983 to go to Western.”

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The university also issued a statement through its publication Western News addressing the controversy.

“Western values a respectful learning and work environment and we sincerely apologize to those who attended this Convocation ceremony and all others who were offended by these remarks,” the statement read.

“Western has had a longstanding relationship with Mr. Dan – that includes his tireless efforts to encourage and support thousands of students at Western – and that dedication to Western was honoured during the ceremony last Friday.”

Western also named one of its departments after him, officially calling it the DAN Department of Management & Organizational Studies within the Faculty of Social Science.

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