As affirmed by its name, Memorial University was established in 1925 as a living memorial to the Newfoundlanders who had lost their lives during the First World War. Memorial was created to be an institution that would build an educated populace “that in freedom of learning, their cause and sacrifice may not be forgotten,” as reads the plaque marking the 1961 opening of the university’s new St. John’s campus location.
Albert Walsh, who would become Newfoundland and Labrador’s first lieutenant-governor, wrote in the 1942 Cap and Gown yearbook, “(Memorial’s) influence should extend to all parts of the country and its research facilities should be available for examination of all our problems. Our people should be able to feel that it is an institution in which they have a real interest and which has an interest in their social and economic advancement.”
These are sentiments that continue to guide us. Memorial researchers, students and staff have always sought answers to the difficult questions facing the province. That is no different today.
Faced with difficult economic times over the past few years, Memorial University continued to do its part in 2016 to find solutions to the province’s fiscal challenges. Not only are we finding efficiencies in our own operations, but through ground-breaking research by faculty and students, the university is supporting innovation and helping grow the economy. We cultivate and mobilize the talent that helps builds a culture of innovation, thereby fulfilling our special obligation to Newfoundland and Labrador.
Foremost among this innovative research was the creation earlier this year of the Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI). Supported by a nearly $100 million investment by the federal government, the OFI is an historic partnership between the flagship universities of three Atlantic Canadian provinces: Dalhousie University, the University of Prince Edward Island and Memorial University of Newfoundland.
The OFI is North Atlantic’s first transnational research organization and will become one of the world’s most significant ocean science research collaborations. It will focus on the globally significant Northwest Atlantic and Canadian Arctic gateway.
The university partners are aiming for breakthroughs in areas such as sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, sustainable coastal communities, marine safety, and ocean data and technology.
The institute will attract and retain world-leading research talent for our province and advance the Atlantic region’s position as a centre of ocean-related teaching and learning with the goal of attracting an additional 147 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. This funding marks the beginning of a truly unprecedented era in research innovation at Memorial as our university moves from world class to world leader.
The success of our funding proposal was possible because of Memorial’s established and world-renowned research expertise in COASTS: Cold Ocean and Arctic Science, Technology and Society. COASTS is a pan-university strategic initiative that seeks to grow the university’s impact and further meet our special obligation to the people of the province by building on the strengths and strategic advantages of both Memorial and the province.
Cold ocean and Arctic-related teaching and learning, research, and public engagement are areas of significant activity at Memorial, both in terms of the quantity and the quality of our work and expertise. They are areas of specialization that have emerged from the university’s long-standing connection to the people and place it serves, and in which the university has distinguished itself as a world leader. We strive to be both locally relevant and globally significant.
Aside from these key institutional initiatives, the past year has been filled with groundbreaking successes across our campuses, as the pages of this report will attest.
Grenfell Campus’s academic restructuring created three new academic departments — School of Fine Arts, School of Arts and Social Science, and School of the Science and Environment — with new deans for each announced over the summer.
The Marine Institute took another big step in developing the Holyrood Marine Base into a world-class facility to support the applied research, education, training and testing requirements of Newfoundland and Labrador’s growing ocean technology industry.
The Labrador Institute recruited a new director, Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo, while the partnership continues with the Faculty of Education to offer teacher education in the Aboriginal and Northern context on site.
The year 2016 also holds special significance for the university as the 100th anniversary of the tragedy at Beaumont Hamel. Out of this terrible crucible of violence and sacrifice in the First World War was born the idea of a public university that would serve the needs of the then-country.
Now, 100 years later, as we continue to remember the selflessness and sacrifice of the Newfoundland Regiment on that tragic day, we continue to help build a better future for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, the country and the world.
I encourage you to read on and learn more about the exceptional people of Memorial University and how our university is contributing to the social, economic and cultural life of our province and beyond.
President and vice-chancellor