Carleton University today conferred a Doctor of Literature, honoris causa, on Eleanor Wachtel in recognition of her illustrious career as author, interviewer, radio personality and arts commentator, placing Canadians on the world stage and bringing the world to Canada.
Wachtel was honoured during Carleton’s Spring Convocation. Approximately 3,580 students are receiving their degrees during ceremonies this week.
“The not always obviously practical education can be the best preparation for trying to make sense of the world, to question, discern patterns and to make change,” said Wachtel. “What your degree gives you are choices of what to think about. It extends your thinking, taking you to new places and entering new lives. It’s a life enhancer.”
A native of Montreal, Wachtel studied English Literature at McGill University. In 1987, she moved to Toronto as literary commentator on CBC Radio’s State of the Arts and reporter for The Arts Report. Wachtel hosted The Arts Tonight from 1996 to 2007, co-founded and hosted Wachtel of the Arts and has hosted Writers & Company since its creation in 1990.
Her unique blend of integrity, warmth and intelligence consistently wins the trust of international, high-profile writers. At the end of their conversation in 2013, John le Carré told her: “You do it better than anyone I know.”
Wachtel has received many honours for her contributions to Canadian cultural life, including the NY Festivals Award for World’s Best Radio Programs and officer of the Order of Canada. In 2015, the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) named her among their 100 Most Powerful Women – Arts & Communication.
“Like all of those who are among the best at what they do, she makes it seem so easy,” said Susan Harada, associate director of the School of Journalism and Communication. “But it is not. To become the kind of interviewer that Eleanor Wachtel is, to do her caliber of excellent work takes intellectual rigor and emotional intelligence. It takes a depth of literary knowledge, the capacity to connect and just plain hard work. Because interviewing is an art form and Eleanor Wachtel is a master.”
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