Memorial alumnus wins prestigious scholarship
Tune in, turn on, discourse
By Wade Kearley
Robert Kean (Photo by David Sorensen)
From hosting the CHMR Friday-night radio show Yes My Son “that’ll set your pants on fire” to landing a $200,000 scholarship for a PhD thesis on the discourse of development in Newfoundland and Labrador it may not seem like a logical progression but Robert Wilfred Kean, alias DJ Lee Baby Simms, has made the transition.
Now studying for his PhD at Dalhousie, this native of St. John’s holds a BA and an MA in sociology from Memorial. The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation announced June 20 that they’ve selected Mr. Kean for a doctoral scholarship. It is valued at $35,000 a year for four years plus an additional $15,000 annually for research-related travel.
Mr. Kean’s winning research tackles political discourse in Newfoundland and its effect on government policy. According to the foundation Web site he believes that “an ingrained desire among Newfoundland politicians to deliver a standard of living in the province that matches more highly-developed North American regions has caused them to paint an unrealistic picture of the available economic development options and natural resources.” Mr. Kean will examine how the “ambitious visions of modernization and economic development among Newfoundland politicians are actually accelerating the depletion of the province’s resources.”
Kathy Rowe, news manager with CHMR, helped to train Mr. Kean when he joined the student radio station. She remembers “Rob” as a friendly guy who smiled a lot and was a good listener. The station’s program director Ernst Rollmann worked extensively with Mr. Kean who he says was professional and witty on air and a popular DJ.
While his former colleagues at CHMR were somewhat surprised at the breadth and depth of Mr. Kean’s thesis, they were not surprised by the fact that he is finding success in his academic career. He is a recipient of the Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Research Council of Canada. Among his achievements at Memorial is a graduate fellowship, the Winter Scholarship and the Atlantic Accord Career Development Award and a research grant from ISER.
Mr. Kean’s work record ranges from acting in local plays to consulting for the ungainly named NL Federation of Co-operative’s Micro-Business Development and Co-operative Business Development programs.
“Receiving this scholarship will enable me to live and work in harmony with values that Mr. Trudeau upheld throughout his entire life: intellectual freedom and integrity. For me, there can be no higher honour,” said Mr. Kean.