Can salmon farm activist Alexandra Morton really call herself a “doctor”? According to the University who gifted the degree, the answer is no.
In 2010, Alexandra Morton was gifted an honorary degree “honoris causa” for her “dedication to science communication [emphasis ours]” from Simon Fraser University (SFU). For those who don’t know, an honorary degree means you do not attend a single day of class. It may be gifted to an individual for many reasons – Ms. Morton’s was based on her activism, which apparently aligns nicely with many faculty at SFU.
Since receiving the award, she refers to herself as “Doctor” Morton and even asked lawyers at the Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River to refer to her as such.
We know she has a big ego, and because of that we can usually laugh it off. We also are well aware she often exaggerates her credentials in an obvious attempt to bolster her credibility as an “expert”. But as numerous reporters began to parrot this BS, we grew tired of it. So, last week, we contacted SFU to ask what the rules were in regards to a recipient of a “honoris causa” referring themselves as a doctor. The following is SFU’s response;
“SFU honorary degree recipients (HDRs) are addressed as “Doctor/Dr.” in all correspondence from the university and while at SFU events or on campus. However, it is not [emphasis ours] correct for HDRs to refer to themselves as Dr., nor should they use the title on business cards or in correspondence. However, the recipient is entitled to use the degree title behind their name, for example: John Doe, LL.D. (Hon.)”
So, journalists, it’s up to you to stop the nonsense – because we know she won’t. Ms. Morton is not a doctor; she is not a professional biologist; she has no formal education in biology, virology or pathology; and is certainly not a veterinarian.
But let’s give her some credit. She is a dedicated communicator.