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Vol 38  No 17
July 20, 2006


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Professor receives the highest academic accolade in Canada

By Leslie Vryenhoek

Dr. Ronald Rompkey has been elected a fellow in the Royal Society of Canada.
(Photo by Chris Hammond)

Dr. Ronald Rompkey, University Research Professor in the Department of English, has been elected a fellow in the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) ­ considered the highest academic accolade in the country.

Dr. Rompkey is among 82 new fellows chosen this year and only the eighth Memorial faculty member ever to achieve this honour. The RSC elects members from all branches of learning who have achieved national and international recognition by publishing learned works or original research in the arts, humanities and sciences. Founded in 1882, the RSC currently has a membership of about 1,800 fellows.

“This provides the opportunity to be a member of a wide community of scholars,” Dr. Rompkey said. However, he believes the greatest benefit is the validation that the fellowship confers. “It’s meant to recognize the accomplishments of those well advanced in their careers,” he explained, noting that following his nomination, there was “a long, arduous process of triage.”

Nominations are peer-reviewed by current fellows who, according to the RSC, must follow criteria based solely on the quality of the nominee’s research and scholarly achievement. In electing Dr. Rompkey, the RSC cited his diverse literary accomplishments in 18th-century literature, medical life writing and the French travel narrative.

“This is an important recognition of the work, and it allows an opportunity to continue that work,” noted Dr. Rompkey, who holds a master’s in English Literature from Memorial and a doctorate from the University of London. He joined Memorial’s faculty in 1984 after working at the universities of Victoria, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Lethbridge and Maine. In 2003, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Much of his work has focused on the literature, arts and culture of Newfoundland. He is the author of a biography of Sir Wilfred Grenfell and the editor of several other publications, including Reginald Shepherd & Helen Parson Shepherd: A Life Composed, which was named the Best Atlantic Published Book for 2006.

Dr. Rompkey is currently compiling and editing a collection of correspondence written by Charles Riballier Des Isles, who served ­­ albeit unhappily ­­ as the French consul posted in St. John’s from 1885-1903. The dispatches cover 18 years of rich territory in Newfoundland’s history, including a bank crash, a ministerial scandal and the great fire of 1892. And as with Dr. Rompkey’s earlier work, Terre-Neuve: anthologie des voyageurs français,1814-1914, this collection offers a French perspective that has been largely overlooked in the documentation of the province’s colonial history.

Dr. Rompkey has been awarded a Standard Research Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to continue this work and begins a year-long sabbatical in September.


The Royal Society of Canada

Founded in 1882, the RSC, also known as the Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada, is Canada’s oldest scholarly organization.

According to the RSC materials, the honour carries with it “a substantial obligation to serve. Fellows of the Society represent a pool of expertise that is pledged to be available to government and society as a source of non-political, disinterested and independent advice and counsel.”

In addition to honouring scholars of exemplary achievement, the RSC undertakes a wide range of activities to promote learning and research in the arts and sciences and to serve Canadian society. For example, it convenes Expert Panels which consider issues of significant public concern and produce and disseminate independent, objective reports based on the combined expertise of the committee.

The RSC also organizes international exchanges and visiting scholar programs with similar national academies and promotes Canadian participation in projects and conferences around the globe.

The RSC will induct its 82 new fellows, along with two Foreign Fellows and one Specially Elected Fellow to its ranks on Nov. 19, 2006. These will include members of the newly created Division of the Arts. Actor Gordon Pinsent, who holds an honorary doctorate from Memorial University, is among these.

After their induction, fellows may use the postnomial FRSC for Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (or MSRC in French for Membre de la Société royale du Canada).

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