Jeffrey Simpson to receive alumni award
By Andrea Gunn, Manager, Alumni Marketing and Communications
Jeffrey Simpson (Arts’71, LLD’05) will receive the 2014 Agnes Benidickson Award from the Ottawa Branch of the Queen’s University Alumni Association on March 26, in recognition of his distinguished work as a journalist, and his volunteer contributions to both Queen’s and the Ottawa community.
The national affairs columnist of The Globe and Mail and author of eight books, Mr. Simpson's interests in politics and journalism were honed at Queen’s, both inside the classroom and out. A student of political science and history, he was also active in campus activities, including the Debating Club.
Knowing he wanted to pursue journalism as a career, Mr. Simpson approached The Queen’s Journal in first year to volunteer. He was rebuffed.
“I was deemed not good enough for The Queen’s Journal,” he laughs. “[At the time], the Journal was under the control of something called the Free Socialist Movement, a group of Marxist-oriented students…. And I didn’t fit the mold, as it were, so I was actively discouraged from continuing my association. So, I marched down to the CFRC studio in the basement of Carruthers Hall, waltzed in, and introduced myself.”
Thus began four years as an on-air broadcaster for CFRC Radio. Mr. Simpson co-hosted a weekly news show on international and national affairs and then started calling the Gaels football games, making a name for himself as “The Voice of the Golden Gaels.”
He also got involved in campus governance, becoming one of the first elected student representatives on University Senate. As an alumnus, Mr. Simpson continued to contribute to Queen’s governance, sitting first on University Council, then on the Board of Trustees. His other contribution was his work, in 1993, to find Queen’s next principal. He was recruited by Chancellor Agnes Benidickson for a working group of the Board of Trustees that selected Bill Leggett.
I marched down to the CFRC studio in the basement of Carruthers Hall, waltzed in, and introduced myself.
Mr. Simpson began writing for The Globe and Mail in 1974, first covering the city hall beat in Toronto, then moving on to Quebec politics. In 1977, he became a member of the paper’s Ottawa bureau. Still based in Ottawa, he has been the newspaper’s national affairs columnist since 1984.