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Oration honouring Arthur Carty

Pages >> Biography | Address to Convocation | Oration

May 28, 2003

By Kjellrun Hestekin
University orator

Vice Chancellor,
The Kalevala, the Finnish national epic, tells the story of the Sampo, an incredible, magical machine. Forged in the far North by Ilmarinen, who had already formed the heavens from nothingness, the Sampo proved to be a formidable task. Ilmarinen strove for nearly two weeks, a long time for an epic hero, to perfect his masterpiece. Initial prototypes were impressive in design, but faulty, being limited in application and wasteful or even destructive. At long last, the true Sampo emerged, beautiful to behold, and a miracle of efficiency and productivity. Among its components were three mills, one for grain, one for salt and one for money. Every day it would turn out enough of each to provide for the day's needs with enough extra to sell for profit, and still more to store away for future use.

Arthur Carty is a man of the North himself. A Geordie from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, he also early demonstrated his industry and versatility, earning distinctions in his Chemistry and Physics Higher School Certificate Exams. He went on to achieve top honors in his Chemistry class at Nottingham, simultaneously honing his skills in soccer, cricket and the development of a discriminating taste for English bitter beer.

Dr. Carty came to Memorial University in 1965, brand new PhD in hand, to teach inorganic chemistry and engineering. He excelled in both teaching and research, and was soon tempted away to Waterloo University where his fame, and presumably his fortune, grew.

In 1994 Dr. Carty assumed the Presidency of the National Research Council, fertile ground for fuller blossoming of his versatility. There he continues active research in synthetic chemistry, metal clusters, polynuclear activation of small molecules and new materials, while also serving as administrator, educator and advocate.

In his capacity as President he frequently addresses audiences not only of scientists and technicians, but also business leaders, school children and even politicians. And he speaks to them eloquently on topics ranging from film animation to atomic clocks, from WWII era anti-gravity suits to the need for a uniform system to measure the brightness of paper surfaces.

That he excels in all these endeavors is borne out by a list of honors and accolades almost as long as the Kalevala itself. He serves on boards of directors for disciplines as diverse as mathematics, environmental studies, nuclear safety, communications and health. He has been awarded an honorary professorship in Taiwan and honorary doctorates in France and from four, soon five, Canadian universities. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada.

In the Kalevala, the Sampo eventually comes to ruin, fought over by rival factions. Fortunately, our modern Canadian Sampo, the National Research Centre, is safe from suffering a similar fate under the capable leadership of Dr. Carty. He actively encourages not only flexibility and social and ecological responsibility, he constantly urges cooperation; cooperation between public and private sectors and among diverse disciplines; cooperation between researchers and entrepreneurs and among nations. The future of the NRC is bright indeed in the hands of this 21st Century Ilmarinen.

Vice Chancellor, I present to you for the degree of doctor of science (honoris causa), Arthur J. Carty.

Pages >> Biography | Address to Convocation | Oration