Harmsworth, Viscount of Hemsted
[Source: S.J. Carew, The Nine Lives of Paton College, (1974) p.11-12]
On October 8th, 1952 the Right Honourable the Viscount Rothermere of Hemsted was installed as first Chancellor of Memorial University.
Viscount Rothermere's family had for many years been associated with Newfoundland. His uncle, Lord Northcliffe, established the paper mills at Grand Falls in the early 1900's. The policies of the family towards their employees and towards Newfoundland had always been a generous, if paternalistic, one. "Our responsibilities cannot end with the successful administration of our business, for we are bound up with the progress and prosperity of the province as a whole", said Viscount Rothermere.
Viscount Rothermere was born Esmond Cecil Harmsworth in 1898. He was educated at Eton and commissioned into the Royal Marine Artillery. He served as Aide-de-Camp to the Prime Minister of England at the Paris Peace Conference. After the First World War he was, for many years, a member of the British Parliament representing the Isle of Thanet. From 1934 to 1961 he held the position of Chairman of the Association of Newsprint Proprietors of Great Britain. He is also President of Associated Newspapers Limited, a company which owns a number of England's leading newspapers.
At his inauguration as Chancellor he expressed the feeling that Newfoundland was on the threshold of a renaissance, and hoped that the University would be in the forefront, researching new ways to deal with the vagaries of climate, sea and soil.
"We must," he said, "be able to see and judge the worth of the eternal verities, and to appraise the problems and perplexities of the day against the solid background of those abiding truths that the centuries have bequeathed. Inventive science without these can be a monster, a moloch of destruction. Our one great hope is that the world - that is we, its citizens - can through the lessons of religions, of philosophy, through inward looking toward the inner light, use the things that come to our hands for the betterment and not for the destruction of mankind.
Thus, while a university will, through its teachings, speed and direct the practical energies of a people, it must also shape and enrich their minds, preserve their culture, and create the right attitude towards life and living".
During his term as Chancellor, Viscount Rothermere gave the University the sum of $500,000 to build Rothermere House, the first residence for students on the campus. This sum was in addition to $250,000 previously given to the University by Lord Rothermere.
In 1961, Viscount Rothermere was forced to retire as Chancellor due to ill health. He has, nevertheless, kept a warm and lively interest in the University and its graduates. He has established the Rothermere Fellowships to aid students who have graduated from Memorial pursue their studies at the University of their choice in the United Kingdom. Ten years after his retirement he established six Rothermere Studentships to assist undergraduate students studying at the Memorial Campus in Harlow.
Memorial was fortunate in acquiring as its first Chancellor a man so dedicated to scholarship and to the establishing of strong ties between Canada and England.
In one of his last speeches on Memorial's campus he told the audience, "A country renews itself in the young men and women who come forward, generation after generation to carry on its life and work. The better their educational background the more certain is the advance and progress of their country".
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