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(May 3, 2001, Gazette)

A thank you to Dave Kirkland

(L-R) Marion Butt, Dr. Carole Peterson, Dave Kirkland, Ann Goebel and Tracey Rose(L-R) Marion Butt, retired coordination director; Dr. Carole Peterson, chair of the Childcare Centre; Dave Kirkland; Ann Goebel, former coordinating director; and Tracy Rose, coordinating director.

Dear Editor,
Recently, a thank you reception was held at the MUNSU/MUN Childcare Centre for Dave Kirkland to acknowledge the enormous debt of gratitude we all feel for what Mr. Kirkland has done for the centre, and in fact for the existence of childcare at the university. Mr. Kirkland spent many years as the general manager for the Council of the Students’ Union (now MUNSU), and in that capacity he was an unfailing champion of the importance of having high quality childcare here on campus. When a daycare centre began at Memorial University, it was a single large room that was mostly underground, sharing the basement of Burton’s Pond apartments with laundry facilities. It was begun in 1975 by a very far-sighted student council which realized that readily-available child care was not a luxury for student parents, but a necessity.

As manager of the CSU, Mr. Kirkland was intimately involved with the Childcare Centre and had a permanent position on the board of directors. In the early 1980s, it was clear that the centre was too successful – there were too many children that it couldn’t accommodate. Most importantly, parents were very concerned about what to do with their children who were school-aged. This was before after-school care was available in schools, and there were very few options for student parents.

Mr. Kirkland was instrumental in the expansion of the childcare facility to include a second centre. He found a location for this centre, the former cafeteria in Burton’s Pond, and negotiated for its use. However, this same area was needed by students for a student recreational centre. With Mr. Kirkland’s help, a compromise was worked out: during the day the room provided childcare for school-aged children, and at night it was available for student activities. The centre thrived.

However, it was apparent to everyone that these facilities were substandard. So, the board of directors began to dream of a new building — a building built specifically for childcare. A building with multiple centres, including one to accommodate another age group that had been ignored, two-year-olds.

Mr. Kirkland was central to the existence of the beautiful Childcare Centre complex (housing four separate centres) that currently exists on campus. Because the perspective of student parents was seldom directly represented in council meetings, Mr. Kirkland became their voice. He helped the CSU councillors to understand campus childcare is of critical importance to these parents. As a consequence, Memorial became one of the first universities whose student organization provided a daycare centre complex that was built specifically for children, and we still have one of the best such facilities in North America.

Over the years, helping the centre to happen and supervising the designing, building and running of the place, stepping in when fiscal crises occurred (which they did all too frequently in the early years) — Mr. Kirkland was always there. Marion Butt, the director of the original Childcare Centre in the basement of Burton’s Pond apartments, became the founding administrative director of the new Childcare Centre complex.
She called Mr. Kirkland “the glue that made it all come together. Without Dave’s commitment, there would probably have been no childcare on campus.”

Ann Goebel, who replaced Ms. Butt after her retirement, called Mr. Kirkland “a visionary in the field of early childcare and education.”

Tracy Rose, the current administrative director of the centre, said, “probably without realizing it, Dave has touched the lives of many people. Because of the Childcare Centre as it is today, he helped create a safe haven for children and parents, and the early childhood educators who staff the centre. There is no comparison in terms of quality when it comes to childcare centres, and we are all fortunate to have such a place.”

On behalf of the approximately 2,000 children who have been in the centre as well as their parents, the staff of the centre and the board of directors, a very big “Thank You, Dave.”

Dr. Carole Peterson, chairperson
MUNSU/MUN Childcare Centre Board of Directors

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