Marine Institute Graduation Ceremony - Convocation Address
Dr. Axel Meisen, President and Vice-Chancellor
June 8, 2001 – 15:00
I wish to congratulate you, the members of the 2001 graduating class of the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland. Your dedicated work has now come to a successful conclusion and we celebrate it with great pleasure. I believe that the education provided by the Marine Institute has enabled you to face future challenges and, without doubt, there will be many such challenges.
I can assure you, your families and your friends that your future prospects are excellent. In fact, according to the recent study "Career Search 2001", published by the provincial government, graduates of the Marine Institute have, on average, significantly better employment prospects than most other post-secondary graduates in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The study tracked the employment experience of 1998 graduates from the province’s public and private post-secondary institutions, including certain programs at Memorial University’s Marine Institute. I am pleased to tell you that the findings for the Marine Institute were very good.
According to the study, over 90 per cent of graduates from Marine Institute programs had secured employment within six months of graduation. The graduates had found employment in areas that were either directly or indirectly related to their program of study. The salaries were all in the medium to high bracket for all the post-secondary graduates. The graduates indicated that they were largely satisfied with the investment in time and money to secure their education.
This kind of independent information confirms the value of post-secondary education in general, and the value of a Marine Institute education, in particular.
You have received your education in a very special place indeed. You may not know that in 1992, our provincial Government decided to make the Marine Institute part of Memorial University. No one else in Canada had previously joined a technical institute with a university. It is a testament to the vision and commitment of the leaders of the day that this experiment has been overwhelmingly successful. I would specifically like to acknowledge the work of my predecessor as president of Memorial University, Dr. Arthur May, and the then and current executive director of the Marine Institute, Mr. Leslie O’Reilly, for making this unique arrangement work.
The two institutions together are able to serve the needs of students better than if they were apart. The strong survey results bear out the success.
The combination of the Marine Institute’s diploma programs and Memorial University’s degree programs now also makes it much easier for you to advance your education. Just last week, I had the pleasure of participating in the university's convocation where 28 bachelor of technology degrees and one bachelor of maritime studies degree were awarded to Marine Institute students. In addition, six master’s degrees were conferred in the Marine Institute’s marine studies and aquaculture programs.
I wanted to tell you this because I want you to know that there is so much more to be learned beyond your current program. I also want you to know that both the Marine Institute and Memorial University are ready to help you to further your education at any time.
Today, we have the pleasure of participating in graduation ceremonies for students who are receiving advanced diplomas, diplomas of technology, technical diplomas and vocational certificates. Although you graduate in a range of disciplines related to fisheries and marine transportation, the programs share two important characteristics: the programs are of the highest calibre and the programs are in high demand.
Last December, Acting-Premier Beaton Tulk held a news conference at the Marine Institute in which he announced government's commitment to help fund a doubling of our marine transportation programs. This announcement was in response to the worldwide demand for mariners. It was also in recognition of the benefits that accrue to the province from mariners who work all over the world but who make their homes in Newfoundland and Labrador. The life of today’s mariner can revolve around work periods overseas with frequent trips home. A good life in Newfoundland and Labrador is therefore possible.
In addition to the diploma and certificate graduates I already mentioned, there is another large group of graduates who we are celebrating today. I am referring of course to students who participated in our industrial programs. I understand that there were over 7,000 participants in courses ranging from safety and survival training, to advanced simulation training, fish harvesting, fish processing, quality control and many more. These courses are offered here and throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. They are even offered in Nunavit and in British Columbia.
Let me now address some specific comments to our graduates. You have received an excellent education and your challenge is now to seize the opportunities, which your education provides. You may find the following three guiding principles helpful.
- First, be confident in your abilities. Listen carefully and accept intelligent advice from experts and non-experts alike.
- Second, be creative and always be on the lookout for better approaches and solutions. You can be very successful by following current practices, but it is innovation that will make you truly special. Take the time to think and be creative.
- Third, find ways in your career and in your personal life to serve humanity. Generously share your knowledge and expertise with others. Become engaged in the pressing issues of our time, especially the issues of environmental protection, free and fair trade, and poverty alleviation.
You may not know this but today, June 8, is International Oceans Day. First declared by the United Nations in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the purpose of International Oceans Day is to inspire people to take better care of our oceans. That’s because most water -- both clean and contaminated -- eventually flows into the sea.
Let me issue a specific challenge to all of you and let me sum up ythe challenge in just two words – water quality.
The importance of water quality has never been more recognized in this country. With recent news from Walkerton, Ontario, and North Battleford, Saskatchewan, and from our own province, water quality has become one of the most significant public policy issues of the beginning of this new century.
I have no doubt that water quality is an issue that will occupy our attention for years to come. But it is not just an issue for Canada – it is an issue for the world. It is an issue where you, with your excellent education, can make a real difference. I challenge you to do so.
I welcome you, our graduates, into our family of alumni. We want you to maintain contact with the Marine Institute, in particular, and with the University, in general. It is my intention to see you warmly received into our alumni family so that we can continue to support you as you develop your career and life.
Let me conclude by congratulating the new graduates once again and let me now also include their families in my congratulations.
My best wishes for your future!
© Copyright 2002 Memorial University of Newfoundland