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The installation of a president

It was a traditional beginning to a modern era at Newfoundland and Labrador’s only university last month.

Dr. Gary Kachanoski, Memorial University’s new president and vice-chancellor, was ceremonially installed in his post at a special session of convocation held on Thursday, Oct. 21.

Dr. Kachanoski started in his position on July 1, 2010.
Members of the community, university leaders, faculty, staff and students, together with Premier Danny Williams, joined Dr. Kachanoski for this installation ceremony.

During the special convocation at the Arts and Culture Centre in St. John’s, honorary degrees were awarded to Dr. Michael Asch, anthropologist and professor emeritus at the University of Alberta, and Peter MacKinnon, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Saskatchewan and a noted legal scholar.

In his installation address, Dr. Kachanoski said he was drawn to and is still inspired by Memorial’s mission and its special obligation to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

“I like that the faculty, staff, students, and alumni are proud of this obligation, and that the people of this place, this great province, expect the university to live up to its obligations,” he said. “Many other Canadian universities struggle with the challenge of connecting their activities to their communities. But at Memorial, it is not just a standard aspiration; it’s a core value – and not only on paper.”

Memorial’s success has not been by accident, Dr. Kachanoski told the convocation, but has been shaped by a collaborative effort involving every segment of Newfoundland and Labrador society.

“All sectors, joining hand-in-hand, contributed to the birth and development of this institution, a university that is, as has been said many times before, intricately woven in the social, economic, scientific and cultural fabric of Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Dr. Kachanoski concluded his address by speaking directly to Memorial’s new graduates.

“Today is our time for celebration,” he said. “Tomorrow we get down to the challenges that lie ahead. I will meet these challenges bolstered by the tremendous support I can expect from the faculty, staff, students and alumni of Memorial, and from the people of this great province.

“In meeting your challenges, you will be bolstered by your education, your knowledge, your family, and your university. You will be part of the 70,000-strong family of Memorial University alumni – that means your university will always be there for you.”

Fall convocation continued on the St. John’s campus on Friday, Oct. 22, at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dr. Pamela Bjorkman, Max Delbruck Professor of Biology at Caltech, received an honorary degree at the Friday morning session.
The Grenfell Campus session of Fall Convocation was held Friday, Oct. 8, in Corner Brook. An honorary degree was awarded to community volunteer Minnie Vallis.

Some 900 students received their degrees during all sessions of convocation.
Fall convocation also saw several veteran Memorial professors receive the designation professor emeritus: Dr. Adrian Fowler, English, Grenfell Campus; Dr. James G. Barnes, Faculty of Business Administration; Prof. Shane O'Dea, English, Faculty of Arts; Dr. Phil Heath, Mathematics and Statistics, Faculty of Science; Dr. Colin Higgs, Human Kinetics and Recreation; and Dr. James K. Hiller, History, Faculty of Arts.

The title of professor emeritus is a distinction accorded only to retired members of the faculty. To be eligible, a person must normally have served at least 10 years as a regular full-time faculty member and must have held the rank of professor upon retirement. The prime criterion for nomination is sustained, outstanding scholarly work and/or service to the university.

Both the special convocation and regular sessions of Fall convocation will be aired on Rogers Cable in the weeks ahead; videos of the sessions will be available on DVD for sale at the University Bookstore.