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(Oct. 31, 2002, Gazette)

House’s term draws to a close
A close friend to Memorial

Lt.-Gov. A. M. House
HSIMS photo
Lt.-Gov. A. M. House

The outgoing lieutenant- governor of Newfoundland and Labrador has strong ties with Memorial University of Newfoundland that began with Memorial University College, span his career and have continued throughout his time in office.

The Hon. A. M. House, as lieutenant-governor, is also the official Visitor to Memorial University. Although this role is poorly known and responsibilities are little used, it is a significant position within the overall governance and function of the university.

“I’m happy I’ve never been required to use some of the responsibilities of the Visitor because a number involve arbitration of a significant nature and some of the decisions taken by the Visitor are not even open to appeal to the courts,” said Dr. House. “Like a lot of other similar appointments, the position tends to be primarily ceremonial and the legal authority is not used – but this doesn’t atrophy or die.”

The lieutenant governor’s less formal connections with Memorial include, not surprisingly, technology. As an international pioneer in the field of telemedicine, Dr. House is the first lieutenant-governor in Canada who has a fully documented electronic record of all activities during his term on the Government House Web Page, which is housed on the university server. This Web page includes a virtual video tour of Government House, based on filming done by the university’s media services for an event at the Labrador Campus of the College of the North Atlantic on Sept. 20, 2001. The university also offered technical assistance to Government House in setting up video conference capacity with a wireless link to the international network.

“For the first time ever when Premier Roger Grimes and his cabinet were sworn in, the event was broadcast over StemNet throughout the province.”

Dr. House also credits Memorial University with doing a “magnificent job” in bringing last year’s Beaumont-Hamel celebration to the province and the country, via CBC TV and NTV, by sending a media crew to France to film the events. The School of Continuing Education broadcast the opening of the Beaumont-Hamel Visitors’ Centre live from France July 1, 2001.

Another legacy of his term in Government House is the annual Honourable A. M. House Lecture on Literacy, to which he committed funding for five years.

“This office has provided me with an opportunity to support the cause of literacy in which I was interested for some time before I came in here. As a neurologist, I was naturally involved in communications and in education generally. I have been aware that we have an unacceptable low rate of literacy and, despite the excellent progress made by government and literacy groups, there is much more to be done. I have been able to champion the cause of literacy by recognizing activists and events in the field and attending conferences. In a concrete way, a lectureship at the university speaks to the important role the university should play, particularly as it educates and trains our future teachers.”

Another cause Dr. House has championed during his term as lieutenant governor is history. He is a member of the advisory council of Historica, a recently established national history organization, and he and Mrs. House hosted a ceremony to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Newfoundland Quarterly, which first published in July 1901. In conjunction with that event, the Quarterly Foundation announced the Lieutenant-Governor’s History Essay Award for 2001, and Lt.-Gov. House provided a prize of $1,000 for the winner.

The last formal reception at Government House during Lt.-Gov. House’s term was, serendipitously, a reception earlier this week to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Telehealth and Educational Technology Resources Agency (TETRA) Centre. Pioneered by Dr. House, Memorial’s expertise in telemedicine has earned an international reputation as a leader in the use of information technology and telecommunications to non-urban, remote and isolated areas. Today TETRA’s resources are used by a province-wide consortium including health, education (secondary and post secondary), social, government and private agencies. TETRA celebrated its 25th anniversary with a conference titled The Way Forward: Telemedicine to e-Health.

For Lt.-Gov. A.M. House, his career has, indeed, been the way forward. From an appointment in 1966 as associate director of postgraduate and continuing medical education at Memorial, through his years in the medical school and developing TETRA, he has kept abreast of the latest developments in technology and helped develop resources to enhance education and health throughout the province.