By Peter Morris
Memorial’s president, Dr. Axel Meisen, has been on a
bit of a whirlwind recently with speaking engagements to community
groups, television appearances and meetings with municipal,
provincial and federal officials to outline the successes
and challenges facing the university.
In presentations to the Rotary Club of St. John’s –
his annual state-of-the-university address – the Rotary
Club of Stephenville and, more recently, the St. John’s
Board of Trade and on the Out of the Fog television program,
Dr. Meisen has sketched a picture of the recent growth of
the university and plans for its future development.
He has also brought that message directly to politicians and
public officials in meetings with St. John’s Mayor Andy
Wells, councillors and senior officials from the City of St.
John’s, Premier Danny Williams and the provincial ministers
of education and finance, and the federal minister of ACOA.
He also met briefly with Paul Martin when the prime minister
was in St. John’s for the East Coast Music Awards.
His message has focused on the importance of Memorial to the
intellectual, economic, cultural and social development of
our province. He has highlighted both generally and specifically
the manner in which the university contributes to our communities.
“The university is important to the people of this province,”
said Dr. Meisen. “I think it’s important for me
and other members of Memorial to take the time to discuss
our development, to bring the message of our successes directly
to our community leaders and to hear what they have to say
about the university.
“A good example of outreach is the research showcase
presented in early February by members of Sir Wilfred Grenfell
College. Memorial has been very successful in recent years,
particularly in attracting research funds from outside the
province to support our students. This success is the result
of the tremendous efforts made by our faculty and staff, as
well as the steady support of the Board of Regents and the
The president intends to continue to deliver this message
as broadly as possible throughout the province. “When
I can talk about, for example, how a university research project
is contributing benefit to a community, it connects that audience
directly to Memorial,” he said. “Recently, in
Stephenville, I was able to use the example of Dr. Trevor
Bell’s (Geography) research related to climate change
in the Bay St. George region. This research provides a tangible
connection between the environment in which the audience lives
and our work at Memorial.
“I also spoke about the new Safety and Emergency Response
Training (SERT) facility, which our Marine Institute is operating
in Stephenville and which greatly adds to the economy of the
region. Such specific information is always well received
and reinforces our macro message that Memorial University
is key to the future and prosperity of our province.”