As part of the Fall 2022 Convocation ceremonies, held October 26 in Place des Arts, McGill conferred honorary degrees on two highly talented and engaged individuals who serve as an inspiration for its community of students, professors, researchers, and staff: Alan Emtage and Dr. Neville Poy. Click on the videos below to hear their speeches.
Stephen Alan Emtage
B.Sc., M.Sc. (McGill University)
Doctor of Science, honoris causa (D.Sc.)
Stephen Alan Emtage came to McGill in 1983 from his native Barbados as an undergraduate scholarship student. When he left the University less than a decade later, he had not only earned two degrees, but had established himself as one of the pioneering innovators of the Internet age.
While completing his McGill studies, Emtage worked as a systems administrator for the School of Computer Science. Although the Internet was still largely in its infancy, there were already millions of files hosted on servers around the world. The problem, Emtage realized, was the absence of a simple way to quickly explore this growing wealth of information. He came up with the idea to index the Internet and created Archie—which we now recognize as the world’s first search engine. What once took hours upon hours of manual searching could now be achieved in seconds.
After graduation, Emtage and Peter J. Deutsch cofounded Bunyip Information Systems, Inc., the world’s first company dedicated to Internet information services. Emtage went on to play a leading role in the evolution of Web technologies. He was a founding member of the Internet Society, a non-profit organization that promotes the development of the Internet as a global technical infrastructure, which formalized many of the standards for Web technology used today. He chaired several working groups at the Internet Engineering Task Force, including co-chairing the Uniform Resource Identifier working group, which created the standard for Uniform Resource Locators – more commonly known as URLs – the standard by which Web sites are accessed to this day. He has served on advisory panels for organizations including the National Science Foundation and the Library of Congress.
Emtage has also proven himself a visionary when it comes to realizing the Internet’s potential to advance social good. In the 1990s, his Web development company, Mediapoliswhile primarily working for a range of clients from startups to multinational corporations, dedicated significant resources, free of charge, enabling most of the major LGBT organizations in the United States to create and maintain an Internet presence.
In 2017, Alan Emtage became the first Barbadian, and the first person from the Caribbean, inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame. This prestigious lifetime achievement award recognizes his groundbreaking contributions to the Internet age, as well as his dedication to the spirit of altruism and collaboration.