Hello friends. I am here today to nominate a man of wealth and distinction for the position of chancellor of the University of Manitoba. I’ll break it to you gently: that man is Burton Cummings. As Comment Editor of the Manitoban, I was excited when we opened up an online contest to determine whom the Manitoban should nominate and support for the position, which is to be filled in fall of 2010. I knew, in my mind, that Burton was the clear choice for chancellor, and I was not disappointed by the unprecedented response this contest enjoyed.
For anyone who hasn’t spent much time in Winnipeg, or who has been living under a rock somewhere within the perimeter, Burton Cummings is more of a god than a man. Born in Winnipeg in 1947, Burt was the singer and one of the principle songwriters behind the Guess Who, and has enjoyed a remarkable career as a solo artist since 1975. He has been honoured in his home province many times since. Every story I’ve ever heard about Burt, whether true or not, has been amazing. The guy is legendary. He has the voice of an angel and can fucking play the piano like nobody’s business. He is a true character, a Winnipeg original, and he was the celebrity captain of the Jets, while they existed. Take a look at his CV and you’ll see a list of undisputed achievements.
So why does any of the above make him an eligible, let alone outstanding, candidate for chancellor of the U of M? The chancellor is a figurehead who represents the university to the public outside. The chancellor is also involved in fundraising and community outreach. How is Burton Cummings in any way unsuited to do any of the above?
Before I discovered that it would be possible for Burton Cummings to be nominated for chancellor of our school, I had no idea what the job entailed, much less how awesome it would be to have Burton Cummings do that job. Now that I do, I can think of it being no other way.
It would be a fine-ass state of affairs with Burt as our chancellor. No other university in Canada would stand as tall, from Victoria to Saint John’s. The U of W could kiss our ass, and MacLean’s could go to hell, for all we’d care. No other institution could possibly rock the way the U of M would, with “Big Bad Burton Cummings” at the helm. None.
Burton, on a cranked up track off My Own Way to Rock, bemoaned the fact that he’d “never be no astronaut.” I’m sure a lot of University of Manitoba students think the same way, hating the fact that we’re hopelessly stuck in a backwoods nowhere, and will likely never escape. With Burton as our chancellor, I’m certain that U of M students would feel like one day they too might well sail out past Jupiter or Venus, pioneering as the intergalactic astronauts we all so wish to be, and commit wholeheartedly to their academic endeavours. After all, if you never graduate, having Burton Cummings personally hand you your diploma would be impossible. I, for one, will be fucking stoked to receive my Bachelor of Environmental Studies from Chancellor Cummings in 2011. Who wouldn’t be?
If Burton were our chancellor, we’d probably say things in the tunnels like “30,000 students can’t be wrong,” or “I feel our chancellor is a man of true quality!” Sure, the job could be bestowed upon some former great thinker from the U of M, or someone who devoted years of research or service to the glory of the Brown & Gold; certainly many have also been nominated. But none of those nominees, I believe, could truly galvanize the interest of the student population, much less the greater public of our great city, than having our highest position held by arguably our city’s greatest citizen: Burton Cummings.
Now, I know there will be detractors to my position; there always are. But those people can go fly a kite in a snowstorm, naked. Without a doubt, “wild and bad” Burton Cummings is the man to beat for chancellor of the University of Manitoba. If you can think of someone who would encompass the position more wholly, while providing the greatest amount of awesomeness for everyone involved, I challenge you to deliver a stronger case. I could be wrong in this, but I can’t convince myself that I am, and neither, to date, has anybody else. I nominate and support Burton Cummings for chancellor of the University of Manitoba, and I hope to hell he gets the job. Fuck yeah.
Sheldon Birnie is the Comment Editor at the Manitoban.