Dr. Albert George Hatcher, Naval Professor, R.C.N., M.A., LL.D.

[Source: S.J. Carew, The Nine Lives of Paton College, (1974) p.11-12]

Albert George Hatcher was born at Moreton's Harbour, Notre Dame Bay, where his father was minister of the Methodist Church. He showed his intellectual power and capacity for study as a boy at the Methodist College in St. John's and if you look on the honours board in the Pitts Memorial Hall you will see in the list of Senior Jubilee Scholars the name of Albert George Hatcher. At McGill University, where he took his Bachelor's and Master's degrees, he distinguished himself particularly in Mathematics and won the Anne Molson Medal. He adopted university teaching as a profession and mathematics as the subject of his chief interest. He had been on the faculty of Bishop's College, Lennoxville, and a professor in the Royal Canadian Navy. This association with the Navy was a source of great pride to him and one of his most cherished memories. He looked upon his experiences in the Navy as one of the chief formative influences in his life. In 1925, Mr. Hatcher joined the teaching staff of the Memorial University College, then about to open its doors. Those of the present faculty who were students or teachers under Mr. Paton are proud of the standards which were set by the Memorial University College; and they know that if they had a right to be proud, it is due in part to Mr. Hatcher's excellence as a mathematician and his enviable skill as a teacher.

When President Paton retired in 1933, Mr. Hatcher became President of the College which had grown from 57 students to 192. As second President of the College, Dr. Hatcher was honoured by the reception of honourary degrees from Mount Allison and Dalhousie Universities. At the end of the war the elevation of the College to the status of a university appeared to him, as to many others, an increasingly important need. It would have been less than human in him not to look forward to being the active animator and director of the hoped-for university; but he was getting tired and in 1948, was granted his first leave of absence in twenty years. Unfortunately soon after his return to take up his duties as President of the University, he was stricken with the disease which finally carried him off. After months of prostration he was able to return to the University and, at three successive convocations had the satisfaction of placing the bachelor's hood on the shoulders of graduates of his own University of Newfoundland. In 1952 he retired and accepted the title of President Emeritus.

He was a man of wide and varied intellectual interests, philosophical, literary and linguistic, as well as mathematical and scientific. But it was not that that specially distinguished him. It was rather his intense interest in every single student as a person. He trained and exercised his natural gift for remembering the names, native places, and circumstances of all his students. Students could not fail to be aware of the personal quality in his dealings with them. He had a pretty turn of wit too, when in humour, and some of the most amusing of after-dinner speeches were made by President Hatcher at College functions. He had little patience for the familiar academic controversies. "What is uncultural", he would say, "about training for a vocation?" He saw these dichotomies as petty and artificial realizing as he did the truth that the spirit of learning and teaching alone counts. Truth is one, not many. The business of the university is to seek and disseminate truth. Let teacher and student together pursue the search and all will be well.


History of Memorial University

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