Alumnus of the Year
To hear Noel Veitch tell it, each and every one of his many accomplishments can be attributed solely to the whims of fate.
Popular university professor with 31 years of service: He just happened to be a high school teacher and master's candidate when Memorial began recruiting professors for its fledgling Faculty of Education. It was all the late Dean George Hickman's doing.
One of the founders of Memorial's campus food bank: He just happened to be on a university committee that spearheaded a one-time effort to provide a struggling staff member with a food hamper. That gesture eventually morphed into a full-fledged project. It was all Judy Rose's (former co-ordinator of MUN's employee assistance program) doing.
Marshal of convocation since 1997: He just happened to be caught smiling - not once, but twice - during a somber convocation ceremony (apparently a major breach of etiquette) and was "sentenced" to put his exuberance to better use, relaxing nervous graduates before they took the stage. It was an angry dean's doing.
Founding member of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra: A lifelong musician, he just happened to be called on to round up musicians for a symphony orchestra that the music specialist with Memorial's Extension Services was organizing. It was the late Nish Rumboldt's doing.
Of course, Noel is just about the only one who thinks his life and work are purely the products of chance. The chorus of voices who chimed in to nominate him for Alumnus of the Year certainly believes otherwise.
"The far reaching and long lasting impact he has had on those he has taught or helped throughout his years as a volunteer and a professor [goes] well beyond and above the call of duty," says one former student.
"Professor Veitch is a true teacher and a compassionate human being," adds another. And this from a colleague: "I believe there are hundreds of people in this city and around the province who have been the beneficiary of his help, fair judgment and kindness who would agree. For my part, I am honoured to have Noel as a good friend."
The Alumnus of the Year award is given annually to a former student of Memorial University who has made significant contributions to the Alumni Association, the university, the community or a particular field of endeavour. It is the most prestigious award that our Alumni Association bestows.
Yet even while Noel admits that the recognition is "a big honour" and that he is "flattered," he maintains, "I am an accident of fate."
"Coming to the university wasn't my choice, but it was one of the biggest breaks of my life. I didn't found the food bank. I didn't found the orchestra. I was there at the time and I helped make it work. But it was just a set of factors and I happened to be there when some of these factors were at play and it influenced my life considerably."
NOEL VEITCH: AT A GLANCE
|Young Noel Veitch
M.Ed.(St. Francis Xavier University)
MA, Speech Communication
(University of Michigan)
Noel's modesty aside, his accomplishments speak for themselves.
- Retired associate professor of education (31 years)
- Former member of the executive of the Newfoundland Teachers Association (NTA)
- Taught high school in Colliers and St. John's for three years
- Founding member (violin and viola) of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra
- Volunteer co-ordinator of the Campus Food Bank
- Former member of the board of directors of the Canadian Red Cross Society (Nfld. & Lab. Division)
- Volunteer with Meals on Wheels
- Former instructor with Teachers on Wheels
- Volunteer at convocation and other ceremonies for 30 years
- Marshal of convocation since 1997
- Member of the board of directors of the Positive Thinkers Club Member of the St. John's Metro chapter of the Memorial Alumni Association
- MUN Pensioners representative with the advisory committee of the Employee Assistance Program
- Former member of the executive of the MUN Faculty Association (MUNFA)
- Winner of the 2001 MUN Volunteer Award of Exemplary Service
- Winner of The Telegram/Hotel Newfoundland NSO Achievement Award in recognition of outstanding contribution and dedication to the NSO
Noel was nominated for the Alumnus of the Year Award by a former student. Here is an excerpt from her nomination letter.
As I write this, I can see him through my residence window
carting boxes of food into Corte Real so that no students will
have to go hungry this term. Students know he is there
if/when they need him and he makes certain they know this.
His unconditional and deep concern for both the academic
and personal needs of students is evident everywhere, and his
old green car is a welcome sight here on campus every other
day. His steady, reliable and widespread presence is felt still
at the university as he continues to help build/enhance and
preserve a high standard of university education (being
marshal of convocation, etc.) and allow students to maintain
a better quality of life while studying towards their goals
(food banks, etc.). His work has spanned over half a century
and, more important, it is still going strong today. I cannot
think of a more deserving candidate to be honoured as this
year's Alumnus of the Year.
BA (Ed.) '84, BA '95
And finally...Noel Veitch in his own words
On the Award "The thing that pleased me the most about all this is that a former student nominated me, because my students meant so much to me."
On his ambition "I wanted to be a real good teacher. I had made up my mind that it was the noblest profession. I was really good to give. I didn't have to go overseas to be a missionary. I could actually give it to society here."
On his shortcomings "I didn't do any of this alone. There are teams of people who make up for my huge deficiencies. I'm slow and inefficient and pathetic. I've been told this by about everybody connected with me. It's a wonder I haven't been killed, actually."