Reflections on time spent at Memorial
Looking back … moving forward
By Tracey Mills
Dr. David Graham with wife Pamela and son Dougal. (Photo by Chris Hammond)
It’s hard to leave a place after nearly 26 years without looking back on it, according to Dr. David Graham, dean of the Faculty of Arts. This year’s spring convocation was a poignant time of reflection and a moment of pride for Dr. Graham as he got to hood his youngest son Dougal, who received a bachelor of arts in linguistics, and watch his wife walk across the stage to receive a master’s of science in medicine. Now at the end of his Memorial University career, he takes a moment to look back on his time here.
“My wife Pamela (Hodgson) and I have lived in St. John’s longer than anywhere else, both of our sons were born here, and all three members of my family are now Memorial alumni. We will always be deeply connected to both Memorial University and Newfoundland,” said Dr. Graham with a smile.
Dr. Graham bought his academic dress after he received his doctorate at the University of Western Ontario. What he remembers as being a splurge at the time has certainly given him good value at Memorial. He cannot recount the number of convocations he has attended or the number of students he has watched cross the stage at the Arts and Culture Centre, but the feeling that accompanies each session of convocation he remembers very well.
“Convocation is a great experience that is treasured by families. I have treasured my own experiences of hooding both of my sons, Alisdair who received an honours degree in mathematics two years ago, and most recently Dougal. I feel something of the same pride when it is a student I have known and seen throughout their program, but the feeling is naturally more intense when it is your own family.”
When asked how he feels about leaving the Faculty of Arts where he has been since 1979, having twice served as the head of the Department of French and Spanish before becoming dean in 2002, he said as difficult as it is, an opportunity came up that he could not pass up.
“There is no particular moment when you can leave a job like this; there is always something to be done. But I feel I helped set in motion some things that are important and the faculty has the momentum to keep these things going. We have had more renewal in the faculty than many people realize, there is tremendous potential for new programs as well as expansion of existing ones. The Faculty of Arts is in very good standing for what’s to come next.”
In spite of the fact that Dr. Graham will leave Memorial in August to take up the position of dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science, the largest of Concordia’s four faculties, with more than 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students and 1,800 courses offered in 26 departments and colleges, he does so with a strong affinity to the university he is leaving behind.
“This is a very exciting time to be at Memorial. The university is changing in some very fundamental ways. We are looking internationally, expanding into a global educational system and in the process becoming much more of a modern multiversity and much less parochial,” he went on to say. “Our focus has become more diverse, more outward looking, more research oriented and graduate oriented, yet still maintaining our traditional focus on the community of Newfoundland and Labrador.”