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One-time supplement publication

Voices of Acadia Voices of Acadia


Global reach, national profile worth celebrating!

When I first came to Acadia from Florenceville, New Brunswick, in the late 1950s, I had no idea that I’d one day find myself as Acadia’s Chancellor welcoming you to join us in celebrating the 175th Anniversary of Acadia’s founding. I certainly understood what kind of opportunities my degree from Acadia would allow me to pursue, but my journey has been even richer than I could have imagined. Since returning to Acadia in an active role as University Chancellor, I have come to appreciate that Acadia’s focus on ensuring students are well-prepared for whatever career choice they make has not changed. Nor has it in the 175 years since Acadia was founded in 1838. This institutional longevity, achieved through good governance and the consistency and dedication of faculty and staff who have helped us to fulfill our mission, is rare and deserves to be celebrated. Voices of Acadia is an appropriate way to tell our story through the recollections of our people. Many you will know instantly because they were your classmates and contemporaries or have achieved tremendous profile and personal success. Others you will come to know and be proud that they, too, are members of our Acadia family because they are on the verge of achieving great things. However, there is one common thread that connects us all: we have somehow been changed because of our connection to Acadia. I have the good fortune, as Chancellor, to meet with generations of alumni as well as every one of our new graduates who attend Convocation. If we think we have had a remarkable first 175 years, the next 175 look even brighter. Today, we are an institution with a global reach and a national profile that places us among only a few select institutions. This is because of our people and how their experiences at Acadia and in Wolfville have equipped them to be leaders both in their professional lives and in their communities. I am also very proud that our alumni are part of a network that supports and promotes one another and looks for new students for whom Acadia would be a perfect fit. We are truly fortunate. Please enjoy this collection of stories about our institution. I hope they will allow you to think about many more people who had an impact on your Acadia experience, and I invite you to participate in the many events we have planned for this year. In Acadia spirit! Libby Burnham (’60, DCL 2000) Chancellor, Acadia University


Voices define Acadia’s past, present and future

It is my honour to share the 175th Anniversary of Acadia’s founding with you through the pages of this special collection of stories about Acadia and its people. These personal perspectives reflect our storied past and rich tradition, but they also capture the Acadia spirit and the deep attachment to the school that continue to characterize our University community in 2013. It is perhaps difficult for us to appreciate fully the boldness of our founders’ vision in establishing, a quarter-century before Confederation, a college predicated on inclusiveness and a commitment to admitting students regardless of race, gender, or creed. It was a courageous enterprise, to be sure, and it propelled Acadia to be a leader in the admission of women and African-Canadians in the 19th century. It also laid the foundation for an academic culture that has produced leaders in virtually every discipline and profession – including a Nobel laureate, Dr. Charles Huggins. This willingness to break new ground has made its presence felt in generation after generation at Acadia. Every time I speak to a new student, meet with our alumni, or encourage my colleagues to take on a new challenge, I can’t help but think that we, collectively, are fulfilling our responsibility to honour and preserve the philosophy of our founders. You will find that the Voices of Acadia offer eloquent testimony to the unique and formative influence our school and its faculty have had on generations of alumni, and the lasting mark our alumni have in turn left on the world around them. I want to applaud all of those who have contributed to Acadia’s success over the course of our 175-year history. I hope you will find that the remembrances encompassed in this anniversary publication resonate strongly with you. These are our stories, and they give all of us cause for great pride in the distinguished history and promising future of our University. Raymond E. Ivany

President and Vice-Chancellor


Visionary leadership, outstanding achievement

As Chair of Acadia University’s Board of Governors, it gives me great pleasure to acknowledge and applaud Acadia’s 175th Anniversary. Since its inception in 1838, Acadia University has delivered an exceptional educational experience to students that has enabled them to hone their academic and social skills, discover their potential and meet the challenges of an ever-changing world. Acadia has accomplished this by virtue of strong and visionary leadership from its Board of Governors, University presidents and many distinguished alumni, faculty and staff that have served the University and also anticipated its needs. The campus today is certainly different from its humble beginnings, but the spirit upon which Acadia was founded is as evident now as it was then. Students and professors still work cooperatively in classrooms, cheer together at sporting events, and model the fundamental tenets of lifelong learning and social responsibility held in such high regard by our founders. The voices in this anniversary publication tell Acadia’s success story, articulating its past, present and future through overlapping tones of fond reminiscence, academic excellence, artistic endeavour and scientific achievement. Each is a single piece in a brilliant mosaic that defines Acadia’s rich history and describes its value to the thousands of men and women who have graced this campus and gone on to become civic and community leaders both here at home and around the world. On behalf of Acadia’s Board of Governors, I invite you to share in and celebrate Acadia’s 175th Anniversary, and look forward to 175 more years to come! Paul Jewer (’94)

Chair, Acadia University Board of Governors


Alumni attest to Acadia’s success

I’ve had a wonderful relationship with Acadia University for 40-plus years now: as a student, graduate, Board member and current president of the Associated Alumni of Acadia University (AAAU). I make no bones about it; I love Acadia. I’m proud to be part of its incredible history and look forward to participating in many outstanding events over the next year as Acadia celebrates its 175th Anniversary. It’s a great opportunity for AAAU members to join in, appreciate the University’s rich heritage and celebrate our contribution as alumni to Acadia’s success. We are the gatekeepers and storytellers, well-suited to share the value of the transformative Acadia experience. In fact, the AAAU has a long and vital history that spans more than 150 years, and our membership includes business, social, political and community leaders who stand as shining examples of the quality and integrity that are the hallmarks of Acadia graduates. We are 27,000 strong and growing, proud to be associated with Acadia and happy to share in its anniversary. Keep in mind, our longevity and Acadia’s is no accident. It relies on strong leadership, foresight and an overriding desire to be the best. As these 175th Anniversary celebrations unfold, it’s clear that we have learned the lessons of the past and charted a course toward an even brighter tomorrow. The myriad voices contained in this special publication are a fitting testament to the unique experience Acadia offers, and they describe in so many ways our alma mater’s ability to forge an enviable present from a distinguished past. We have capitalized on our strengths, maximized our opportunities, and built a place that continues to attract the brightest and the best. Small wonder we can look ahead with great excitement and anticipation! I think it’s important for us, as alumni, to understand not only the value of our time at Acadia, but the lasting and lifelong effect it has had on each of us. I urge you to remember what Acadia means to you, and that we continue to celebrate and support it, particularly during this landmark 175th Anniversary celebration. Stand Up and Cheer! Hugh Bray (’75)

President, Associated Alumni of Acadia University


Acadia University Celebrating 175 years

Acadia University was born out of a growing desire on the part of some Nova Scotia Baptist leaders for access to higher education, and a mounting frustration with the exclusion from the colony’s colleges of many of the region’s youth.


Significant changes

On November 15, 1838, meetings took place in Horton, N.S. (now Wolfville), and then in Nictaux, where plans were laid for the establishment of a college from which no one – student or faculty – would be barred on the basis of denominational affiliation. Plans went forward swiftly, and on January 15, 1839, the college opened with two faculty and 21 students in attendance, initially sharing facilities with the boys’ school, Horton Academy, that had been established in Horton by the denomination a decade before. What would become Acadia University was born. Through the 1840s, the college prospered modestly. The first class, numbering four, graduated in 1843 (Bachelor of Arts was the only degree then offered), and Acadia’s first building, College Hall, was built in that same decade, largely through the dedication and perseverance of Professor Isaac Chipman, to whom the college owed so much. However, the next decade showed how fragile a new institution could be, entirely dependent as it was upon denominational giving and very low tuition fees. The drowning death of Chipman and his students while on a geological expedition, and the loss of a substantial portion of its painfully-acquired endowment fund, nearly brought Acadia to its knees.

Weathering these storms, for the rest of the century Acadia saw modest growth and significant changes. By 1900 there were over 120 students on campus, a remarkable number in the Canadian post-secondary scene of that era. And by this time, the student body also included women. When Acadia was initially founded, the general view in North America was that higher education should be provided for males only. Attitudes slowly changed, and Acadia graduated its first female student in 1884. Women have been an important component of the Acadia community ever since. Before the end of the 20th century, females constituted more than 50 per cent of the student body. Acadia was also one of the first institutions in the Commonwealth to admit students of African heritage. In 1893, Acadia admitted its first African Nova Scotian, which marked the beginning of a connection to this important Nova Scotia community. Many of the province’s most influential African Nova Scotian community leaders throughout the 20th century were Acadia graduates. Changes in curriculum would take place during this time as well, as Acadia

Diversity defines Acadia in the 20th century

Acadia’s first building, College Hall

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Voices of Acadia

Acadia gradually introduced a more specialized education

gradually moved away from the traditional classical education based on Latin and Greek, introducing modern languages, more sciences, and other subjects, and eventually a separate Bachelor of Science degree. More specialized education, as opposed to the general curriculum of the 19th century, began to predominate. Although it was never the intent that Acadia be primarily a training ground for Baptist ministers, theology was added to the curriculum, and eventually degrees in that area were established as well. Student life was enriched by the beginning of campus, and eventually interuniversity sports, with cricket, tennis, football (rugby) and track-and-field being among the early favourites. The student newspaper, The Athenaeum, began in 1874, and the first students’ council was established in the 1880s. The warm attachment that its students have always held for Acadia is reflected in the founding of the Acadia Alumni Association in 1859, which has supported and encouraged Acadia and its students ever since.

fires destroyed some of its earlier landmarks. The academic offerings expanded significantly as well, with new programs in such fields as music, computer science, business, nutrition, education, and kinesiology. Campus became increasingly diverse, as Acadia attracted a wider array of international students. Significant changes took place in student life on campus, beginning at mid-century with student demands to control more of their own lives while attending Acadia, and to have a greater say in the affairs of the University. Co-ed residences, student representation on the Board of Governors and the Senate, and increasing autonomy of the students’ union were important signs of change at Acadia and in North America. Acadia faces the 21st century with both major challenges and exciting opportunities. It remains one of the select few small, firstclass, primarily undergraduate institutions in the country where small classes and individual attention is possible. However, this also comes at a significant cost, and it will be Acadia’s task to ensure that it can continue to provide such a specialized, high-quality education and survive financially, maintaining the high standards and rich educational experience that have characterized its first 175 years. Special thanks to the author of this overview, Dr. Barry Moody (’67), Acadia University professor of History and Classics, and the author of Give us an A, a historical look at Acadia published in 1988.

Dramatic growth The 20th century would be one of dramatic growth for the institution. The student body would grow fivefold in the first 50 years and quadruple again in the last half of the century. Campus changed significantly as well, with dozens of new buildings being erected, while 2


Voices of Acadia

helping to shape it into a respected centre of learning. In 1838, Pryor joined with his friend E.A. Crawley to discuss plans to expand Horton Academy physically and academically. Their dream was to add college courses, creating an environment of academics and spiritual growth for high school graduates in the province. On November 15, 1838, the plan was sanctioned by the Nova Scotia Baptist Education Society. One resolution from the minutes of that meeting reads, “and the young men educated at the Academy be under no inducement to seek in a foreign country the advantages of a collegiate education.” Their dream came to fruition with the founding of Queen’s College, and three years later it was renamed Acadia. In the ensuing 175 years, it has grown from its initial population of 19 to more than 3,500 full-time students, and its reputation has grown apace with alumni who have excelled in virtually every area of human endeavour. Pryor remained as Acadia’s president for 12 years. During that time he also taught, supervised the students in his charge, fundraised and actively promoted Acadia far and wide. Although Acadia is no longer affiliated with the Baptist Church, the history of that association is important to recognize and respect. In 1848, Acadia recognized John Pryor by conferring on him an honorary degree.

John Pryor Acadia’s first president was John Pryor, a “cultivated and courtly man,” born on July 4, 1805. Son of a well-to-do Halifax merchant, Pryor attended King’s College in Windsor and, after graduating with a BA in 1828, taught school in Sydney and Halifax. His true calling was the church, and in 1828 he began his career as a Baptist preacher. He studied theology at the Newton Theological Institute in Massachusetts and was ordained in 1830, returning to Nova Scotia that same year. He was appointed principal of Horton Academy in Wolfville, a school founded by the Nova Scotia Baptist Education Society. He remained in that position for eight years,

A. W. Sawyer “Let us avoid the error of supposing that we are making a university, simply by multiplying schools and courses. The university will come in its time. When society is ripe for it, it will appear. As the best preparation for that time, let the college be made as efficient as possible. If we are true to its proper purpose, its success will lead inevitably to the higher development of education among our people.” Rev. A. W. Sawyer, DD, President of Acadia College, 1869–1896 (excerpted from Jubilee of Acadia College 1888) 3


Voices of Acadia

using a variety of disguises and personas. Eventually, she made her way to the Dutch border, where she was taken in by Canadian troops. Mona was subsequently presented with citations from Britain and the United States for her courage in sheltering members of the Allied forces.

Mona Parsons The story of Acadia Ladies’ Seminary graduate Mona Parsons Foster is one of the most compelling in Acadia’s long history. Mona Parsons grew up in the Annapolis Valley in the early part of the 20th century, engaging her talents as an actress in several productions at Acadia and attending the Conservatory of Music and Fine Arts. After a time in New York performing as a chorus girl, the beautiful and elegant young Parsons left the theatre world, graduated from nursing school and found work with a Park Avenue doctor. She met and married Willem Leonhardt, a Dutch businessman and millionaire, and they moved to Holland just prior to the outbreak of World War II. When the Nazis invaded Holland in May 1940, the young couple joined the Dutch underground and, at great personal risk, successfully sheltered Allied airman in their country home. In 1941, Mona Parsons was taken into custody by the German Gestapo. She was originally sentenced to death, but this was commuted to a life sentence. Refusing to cooperate with the enemy, she spent four years labouring at Nazi prison camps before staging a dramatic escape in March 1945. She then began an unbelievable journey on foot back to her adopted homeland of Holland. What followed was the stuff of movies. She skillfully eluded capture by the Germans

Dr. Marion Elder Grant Dr. Marion Elder Grant (’21) was named Acadia’s “Woman of the Century” in 1984. The honour was appropriately bestowed on the 100th anniversary of the graduation of Clara Belle Marshall Raymond (1884), the first woman to graduate from Acadia and only the second to graduate in Canada. Dr. Grant taught at Baylor College in Texas, returning to Acadia in 1936 as a teacher in the school of education and the department of psychology. She served as Dean of Women for 24 years and influenced the lives of countless young Acadia students. In 1960, she was made a full professor and head of the psychology department. Among her many achievements, she was elected national president of the Canadian Federation of University Women. She was also a 4


Voices of Acadia

founder of the Fundy Mental Health Centre in Wolfville. Vice-President Academic Dr. W.R. (Ron) MacDonald presented the citation for the “Woman of the Century” award. His moving tribute included the following: “A woman of eminence without pomposity, of presence without ostentation, of adaptability without inconsistency, and of gentle self-mockery and wit. Truly Acadia’s woman of the century.” An editorial in the Halifax Chronicle– Herald offered further praise. “Kipling wrote of those who walk with kings while retaining the common touch. The thought is one that comes to mind when one thinks of Dr. Grant.” Dr. Grant all but grew up at Acadia. Her mother, Alice Fitch Grant, was the second woman to graduate from Acadia and the first to receive a Master of Arts degree. She was also the first woman to be appointed to the Senate of the University as a representative of the Associated Alumni. When Dr. Marion Grant died in April 1989, Acadia president Dr. J.R.C. Perkin noted that she had come to the campus at the age of six “and in a real sense it was her home for the rest of her life.”

big influence. She was the Dean of Women and taught a course in psychology, which all freshman students had to take. She was a personal friend of my mother’s so I knew her long before I went to Acadia. She would often drop in and have a cup of tea with mother and I, as a little girl, would run around getting in the way. She was active in the Canadian Federation of University Women and became their national president. She was a very busy professional woman who cared about her students. “Today, Acadia’s population is a microcosm of the whole hemisphere, the whole world. We have students from all nationalities and you see them on Main Street in Wolfville and on campus. The physical appearance of the campus – U-Hall and the buildings around that primary central complex – remains the same. It’s still strong, picturesque and noble. I’m sure I’m getting carried away with words, but there’s something that triggers your emotions when you walk up that path from Main Street to University Hall. These are some of the warm feelings and affections and loyalties that we in our generation certainly had. “I think it’s true to say there is a certain ambiance about Acadia, a certain security that you feel that’s fostered by faculty and fellow classmates. I’m in love with Acadia. My husband (Raymond Jefferson, ’51) always used to say he never worried about me running off with another man because his biggest competition was Acadia. I have three nieces who are currently students there and they love the place, too.”

Clara Jefferson For Clara Nowlan Jefferson (’48), Acadia is a family affair. Both of her parents, George (’20) and Miriam (Chisholm) Nowlan (’20), went to Acadia. Her aunt Clara, for whom she is named, worked in the bursar’s office. Her brother Pat Nowlan (’52), a former Nova Scotia MP, graduated from Acadia, as did her brothers George (’45) and Mike (’55). Her other brother, Charles, graduated from Horton Academy in 1945. “With those connections, it was natural for me to go to Acadia,” she says. Clara Jefferson is historian and also Life President for the Class of 1948. “I was a student in the School of Home Economics. It was almost like a sorority in that we were a close-knit group, and shed many tears and much laughter as well. The Dean of Home Economics was Miss Elizabeth MacMillan and she really became a mentor for me. Marion Grant was another 5


Voices of Acadia

Dr. Gene Wong

rating,” said Wong at the opening of the Wong International Centre on the campus in 1997. Ogilvie pointed out, “We have the highest percentage of international students among universities in the country. This is a great tribute to the cultural diversity of the community.” Ogilvie has called Wong “a magnificent role model to society,” adding that his story proves “Acadia has diligently pursued and enhanced the splendid vision of its founders.” After Acadia, Wong went on to great success as a restaurateur in New Brunswick and then moved to Vancouver, where his storybook life took another turn. His business acumen led him to found the Yorkshire Trust Bank, Chinatown Branch, and the Pacific Trust Company. He went on to expand south of the border, purchasing a Seattle shopping centre and becoming president of Jaycees Holdings. Wong took great pleasure in helping other international students. He sponsored countless numbers of students from China, allowing them to immigrate to Canada. The results of that compassion represent more than mere statistics. He was particularly proud of assisting an impoverished single mother of two to come to Canada. Both children went on to become medical doctors. In his citation for Dr. Wong at the Hong Kong event, David Green (BA, MA) said, “Canada needs intelligent, hard-working, resilient citizens such as Gene Don Wong to bring it to its potential as a nation, one that still cares for all its citizens.”

On Friday, January 26, 1996, Acadia moved from Wolfville to Hong Kong. It was done to bestow an honorary doctorate on a man who once made an even more miraculous journey to the Wolfville campus. Significantly, then alumni director Steve Pound (’72) referred to the trip as “a homecoming.” Dr. Gene Wong (’49) was the first Acadia graduate of Chinese descent, and that makes him a genuine pioneer. When he first arrived, there was no official to help him cope with culture shock and the loneliness that comes with being separated from friends and family on the other side of the world. There was no place for him to go to meet with other foreign students. Acadia is now a place of diversity, with students representing 50 countries from around the world interacting with those from Nova Scotia and other parts of Canada. But before this, Gene Wong blazed a trail to Acadia and made the journey easier for generations of international students to come. “His support for others, and particularly those from Chinese communities coming to North America, is legendary,” said former Acadia president and Canadian Senator Dr. Kelvin Ogilvie (’63). “Acadia to me has always had a triple-A

Peter Donat

Some of his more prominent film roles include: The Godfather Part II, The China Syndrome, The Bay Boy, The Babe and The Game. Donat was a prominent member of the American Conservatory Theatre (ACT) in San Francisco for a number of years, and has been active also in local theatre. “I have always taken pride in my Acadia roots,” he says, “and the lessons and perspectives I gained as a student here have influenced me throughout my career. As a way of thanking my alma mater, I decided to establish a scholarship to help future generations of drama students. I’ve enjoyed hearing from and about the young people who followed me and my contemporaries at Acadia, and I hope they share my pride in being part of the Acadia family.”

Peter Donat (’49) has had a long and very successful career as an actor on stage, in film and on television. His many credits include roles in Mission Impossible, Banacek, The Waltons, Hawaii Five-O, Charlie’s Angels, Hill Street Blues and Murder, She Wrote. He was a regular cast member of the 1980s prime time serial Flamingo Road and more recently had a recurring role as Bill Mulder, Agent Mulder’s father, in The X-Files. 6


Voices of Acadia

“Arthur Irving, you have spent a lifetime drawing energy from the earth and giving your energy back to the earth.” Arthur and Sandra Irving have also drawn deeply from Acadia and given back substantially with generosity and grace. Sandra: I attended Acadia in 1974. From an academic perspective, the classes were small and the professors were excellent. I was especially interested in poetry, creative writing and the study of languages, notably French and Spanish. I still maintain that interest in creative writing and languages. I remember those great sports teams of the 1970s, too. The football and basketball teams were nationally recognized and the whole spirit of athletics was a huge part of the university and the wider community. That’s a happy memory for me. Arthur: I had some memorable professors at Acadia. George Nowlan (’20) taught commercial law at that time and his son, Pat Nowlan (’52), was a classmate of mine. Mr. Nowlan was a lawyer, but he came up and helped out at Acadia by teaching commercial law. I liked that course. It was a lot different than it is today. The campus was composed mostly of Nova Scotians, and Acadia has always had a lot of students from smaller towns. The student population was only 600 or 700 and everyone got along well together. We now have much greater diversity at Acadia, with a lot of Canadians coming in from every province and territory. We also have a lot of international students. It’s no longer a local market: it’s a global market, and having people from other countries is important. Connie MacNeil (’53) was another classmate who did an awful lot for Acadia. He was a goodwill ambassador wherever he went. He deserves nothing but praise from all of his classmates and from Acadia University. His wife, Myrt MacCready (’53), came from St. Stephen (N.B.) and was also a classmate – a wonderful lady. The tribute they had for Connie down in the Acadia Arena was wonderful. Sandra: We like Acadia president Ray Ivany very much. I remember the first time we met him at our library at home. Ray is a very strong leader and he’s also an excellent speaker. He’s invariably positive and always thinking of ways to make Acadia better. He’s widely respected across the country: a kind and sincere man, and a very good friend.

Arthur & Sandra Irving The Irving family’s commitment to Acadia is as strong and as deep as the Bay of Fundy tides. K.C. Irving attended the Wolfville campus as part of the Class of ’21. Sons Arthur (’52), John (’54), and James Irving (’50) were all students at Acadia before returning to Saint John to work in the family business with their father. Arthur’s wife, Sandra (’74), is a loyal alumna and an integral part of the family’s exceptional legacy of support for the school. Arthur was Acadia’s Chancellor from 1996 to 2010; received a Doctor of Civil Laws from Acadia in 2003; and was granted the title of Chancellor Emeritus in 2010. Arthur and Sandra know the importance of giving back, not just in theory, but in practice. Sandra is a powerful and articulate advocate for the value of education in our society. As a captain of industry and a champion of the environment, Arthur is the epitome of an outstanding corporate citizen. Together, they have helped to make Acadia a focal point for innovation and research in environmental sustainability. The K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre and the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens honour Kenneth Colin and Harriet Lila Irving. They were built and equipped in their entirety from a significant gift from James, Arthur and John Irving. Arthur’s legacy extends to the Arthur Irving Academy for the Environment. In addition, the Beaubassin Research Centre in Aulac, N.B., is a joint project of Acadia University, Irving Oil and Ducks Unlimited Canada that is dedicated to ecological research. When Arthur Irving received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Dartmouth College in 2010, the citation read in part: 7


Voices of Acadia

Arthur: Ray has certainly spruced everything up in a proper fashion. I think the main reason why Ray has been so effective is simply because he’s a good guy. Number one, he’s from Cape Breton. He has worked hard and he has never had anything handed to him. He has done a great job and, from the first time I met him, I haven’t changed my view of how good he is. He has passion in him and that great love for Acadia. We’re so fortunate to have him because he’s a crackerjack, a true Maritimer. I don’t know where you’d find a better president for Acadia. Sandra: David Naylor, the outgoing president of the University of Toronto, is a good friend of ours as well. In fact, we just went to a dinner in Toronto to mark his retirement after eight years. Most presidents will want to sell their own universities to students, and he does, but he is also the first person to say that if you want to receive the best of an undergraduate education in Canada then you should look at Acadia, St. F.X., or Mount Allison. He refers to the smaller classrooms and the more personal attention students receive. Acadia is preferable even when it comes to providing a letter of reference for a student in an undergraduate course who wants to go on to one of the best medical or graduate schools. A letter of recommendation from an Acadia professor is a letter of recommendation from a professor who really knows his or her students. Acadia is so much further ahead in that regard. I know that when Acadia students earn an undergraduate degree and apply to some of the top medical or graduate schools, the rate of acceptance is very high. And I am the first one to communicate that message to high school students who want to go on to do post-graduate studies. A degree from Acadia is widely respected and admired across the country, and further afield. Arthur: I never had a bad day at Acadia. It has played a very important part in my life. In terms of giving, when someone helps you along the way and plays a very important part in your lifetime, the natural inclination should be to give back and help them as a means of saying thank you. Saying thank you to Acadia is important to me. Sandra: Arthur recommends Acadia University to every young person he meets in Canada and other countries. He spreads

the message of Acadia with passion and has recruited many students to come to Acadia over the years. Arthur once told Ray Ivany that when he was Chancellor, every day he’d wake up and try to think of something he could do for Acadia. The truth is he has never stopped thinking about Acadia. I think that’s a wonderful tribute to his life and to Acadia. Arthur: I tell people that Acadia is the best undergraduate university in the world. It’s a place where students become well prepared for graduate studies and for their chosen professions. I tell them about the beautiful Annapolis Valley, and about the wonderful, safe little town of Wolfville surrounded by the dykes of the Bay of Fundy and unrivalled natural beauty. I have many happy memories as a student at Acadia and also as Chancellor for 14 years. What I remember most about my time as Chancellor was meeting a lot of great students. I remember the graduation ceremonies well and tried to impart a meaningful message to the students. This message is always the same: the basics of life never change – the importance of expressing gratitude; saying thank you; keeping in touch with home, family and friends; loving what you do; and keeping in touch with Acadia after graduation. I was proud to be the Chancellor of Acadia and help whenever I could. I was especially honoured to be named Chancellor Emeritus. Life is pretty short and you should do what you can. The lessons learned at Acadia were pretty important: that you’ve got to play the game and you’ve got to play it right. You can’t forget those who helped you along the way, and I think Acadia has a spirit all of us should remember. Sandra: Arthur’s father, K.C. Irving, went to Acadia and lived in Willett House. When we visit the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre, named in his honour, and we look across the street at Willett House, we always think of Arthur’s father and his student life at Acadia. What we like to do most is help students. When Arthur was asked to be the Chancellor over 15 years ago, he said he would take on the role if there was something he could do for the students. The very first thought behind the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre was “students” and creating a very special meeting place for them. Thus, the realization 8


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of the Garden Room at the K.C. Irving – where students meet to read, study, enjoy music concerts and presentations, and a warm fireplace on a wintry day. In the early planning stages of the K.C. Irving Centre, as important as the social meeting place of the Garden Room was, and is, to the identity of it, we also knew we needed to create a very important academic component. From an environmental research perspective, the objective is to encourage the study of the flora and fauna of the Acadia Forest Region. Arthur is honoured by having his name associated with Acadia University and the Arthur Irving Academy for the Environment. The Academy’s goals are to reflect his interest in student scholarship and research, and to establish Acadia University as a leader in the study of the environment.

was a member of the Varsity Track and Field Team that won two Maritime Intercollegiate Championships, in 1953 and 1955. Following graduation, Bill returned to Quebec, working for American Textile Ltd. in Drummondville and then the Iron Ore Company of Canada, Schefferville. In 1963 he became Acadia University’s first Director of Alumni Affairs and worked closely with the Executive Committee of the Associated Alumni of Acadia University. That role expanded in 1969 to include Information Services and, later, Development. Bill was appointed VicePresident External Relations in 1985 and was responsible for alumni activities, public affairs, community and government relations, special events and fundraising. He was involved in raising funds for the construction of several new buildings on campus (including the War Memorial Gymnasium Extension and the Arena) and Academic Scholarships. Bill is known, unofficially, as “Mr. Acadia” because of his dedicated role as Acadia’s ambassador. Now retired, Bill received an honourary doctorate from his alma mater in 1998, and he and his wife Margaret Ann (Eaton, ’57) remain avid advocates for Acadia. Their children, Derek (’80), Heather (’81, ’83), and David (’84); his brother Gerald (’59); his mother Elaine D. Rice (’24); and his grandmother Lulu Bliss Dobson (1887), are all Acadia graduates, as are other family members. Their granddaughter is an Acadia student at the present time. Bill states that he feels fortunate to have participated in athletics under the mentorship of ‘Major’ Fred Kelly, Director of Athletics. “The Major coached all sports at Acadia and he had a huge impact on my life. Sportsmanship was most important; there was no time for foolishness, and the value of teamwork was crucial. He was a strict disciplinarian and highly respected by me and all athletes. “During my years at Acadia I worked with five presidents: Dr. Kirkconnell, Dr. Beveridge, Dr. Sinclair, Dr. Perkin and Dr. Ogilvie. I also worked with Chancellors H.P. McKeen, Dr. Charles B. Huggins, Dr. Alex Colville, and Dr. William Feindel. “The most gratifying experience I had at Acadia was with our students and alumni, with whom I have maintained continuous contact and have established lifelong friendships.”

Bill Parker William ‘Bill’ Parker (’56) was born in Sherbrooke, Quebec, and grew up in Drummondville, Quebec. He came to Acadia University in 1952, earning a BA in Economics over the next four years, graduating as Life President of the Class of 1956. During that time he was students’ council representative and chairman of the Athletic Awards Committee. A fine athlete, Bill captained the Varsity Axemen hockey team in his junior and senior years; played Varsity Golf; and 9


Voices of Acadia ‘Just because you come from a small place doesn’t mean you can’t achieve your hopes and dreams’: John Huard Sr.

John Huard John Huard didn’t attend Acadia as a student, but his impact on the campus during his time as coach of the Acadia Axemen football team was immense. He has entered the pantheon of legendary coaches who have brought athletic glory to Acadia, the town of Wolfville, and the province of Nova Scotia. He captured two National Championships, in 1979 and 1981, and is quick to give much of the credit to his predecessor, three-time AUAA coachof-the-year Bob Vespaziani. “Vespaziani did such a great job and I always tell him that we could never have done it without what he had produced. They were on the verge of winning it all.” The former University of Maine star linebacker played in the NFL and CFL. After Acadia, he went on to coach the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. He now brings his intensity and skills to the field of business as CEO of Northeast Turf in South Portland, Maine. In 2007, he donated the turf for Acadia’s Raymond Field, the site of so many past glories for his Axemen. “Jack Scholz was at Maine when I was at Maine and that’s how Acadia came about – through that connection. I was only supposed to coach one year because Ves was taking a year sabbatical. When he decided he wanted to stay in the pros, I stayed at Acadia. “What I found out immediately at Acadia was that you were dealing with very smart

individuals – really smart student-athletes – and as a coach you could do things now that typically you could not do. Especially as fast as we did it. Look at what these studentathletes have become afterwards – after they graduated. Look at where they are and the positions they hold. That speaks volumes for what Acadia did to bring them to that level and how they progressed as good, sound, solid citizens that are running major companies and giving back to their institution, province and country. “I keep in touch with many of my former players, especially those that don’t mind talking with me. I always played on teams that probably didn’t have the greatest talent, but they were solid individuals and you could always count on them and depend on them, and that’s what I always wanted to build: an organization where the kids would take care of themselves and protect their teammates, whatever they did. “The first year we were there we had no travel bags, so I went to the hardware store and bought all these black garbage bags and handed them out to the kids. I said, ‘Look, you guys are going to be the only team in Canadian college football that is going to have new travel bags every week.’ It was phenomenal. Once we were travelling in a bus around Halifax and a big truck goes by us; the truck is open in the back and all you see 10


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are trash bags. And one of the players yells out, ‘Hey coach, there goes another team.’ Can you imagine that? ‘There goes another team’? “I remember coming home to Wolfville after winning the national championship [in 1979]. The fire trucks blaring, the people cheering, and everyone was so excited. It was like we had completed the mission, you know? The first one. The second one – going undefeated – was equally amazing. “Acadia was always a very impressive school. The location is ideal. It’s a pristine place. The practice facility down on the dyke was phenomenal and I had great managers, assistant coaches and medical staff all five years. Everyone chipped it. It was really an institutional event. “In the process of donating the [artificial turf] field, I wanted to do something for my employees here in Maine as well so I set up a program with Acadia so that my employees’ children could go to college there. I also did the same for my players so their children could go to college there. I’ve had employees’ children graduate from Acadia. I’ve always kept in contact with them and been excited to see what they were doing. I’ve also informed Acadia that when the next field has to be taken out and a new one put in, I’ll do the same thing. That is very important to me because Acadia remains extremely special to me. “My children and players loved living in Wolfville and the Maritimes. Therefore, you have to give back for that quality of life and I think that’s what all the Acadia players would say. You’ve got to give back to help not so fortunate individuals achieve their goals. Acadia is the best of all the worlds – from an academic standpoint, an athletic standpoint, and a community standpoint. I don’t think you can find a better place to raise a family and team. “Just because you come from a small place doesn’t mean you can’t achieve your hopes and dreams. I always felt as a coach you try to help the players achieve their personal dreams. What they do after that they have to produce themselves, but along the way you help them a little bit, maybe mentor them a little bit, maybe discipline them a little bit – set the path right so that when they come out, they have solid values and they are people you can always count on.”

George Bishop George Bishop (’65) is the Chairman and a Director of Scotia Investment Limited where, until retirement last year, he had served as President and CEO. He is the Chairman and a Director of Crown Fibre Tube Inc., Maritime Paper Products Limited, Scotia Recycling Limited, Minas Basin Pulp and Power Company Limited, and CKF Inc. He also serves as a director of Armour Transportation Inc. and Heritage Gas Limited. A member of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, he is a recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee Award and is a Fellow Chartered Accountant. In 2006, he received an honorary Doctor of Civil Laws from Acadia University. “Our first family connection to Acadia,” he says, “was my paternal grandfather, George Lovett Watson Bishop, who graduated in 1899 with a Bachelor of Arts. My maternal grandmother, Lena Isabell (Coldwell) Jodrey, graduated with a Business Certificate in 1909 and 54 years later her husband, Roy A. Jodrey, was honoured with an honorary Doctor of Civil Laws from Acadia University. “From the second generation my mother, Florence Mae Jodrey, graduated in 1934 with a BA. From the third generation my brother, Dr. Roy Bishop, graduated from and later returned to Acadia to teach in the physics department after completing his postgraduate studies. My late sister Marianne graduated from Acadia as did my younger sister Joan and I, so all four of my immediate 11


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family went to Acadia. There was never any pressure to go there; we just all individually chose Acadia. “I graduated from Hantsport High School, and worked for a year at the Bank of Nova Scotia before going to university. After a year of working in the bank as a teller, I thought maybe I should go back to school and get some more education. Because my family was in business, I knew from day one that was where I wanted to end up, so I pursued a business degree at Acadia. It was a small faculty, but we had great professors. Sheldon Fountain lectured in finance at that time and he and his family have contributed generously of their time and resources to the University. “What makes Acadia such a special place? I believe that first and foremost it’s the attitude of the professors. They really want to work with the students. It is hard to believe that Acadia’s professors are that different from other universities, but somehow they seem to be. They seem to care more about the students. When I was a freshman, I remember being so impressed that it wasn’t many days before each professor knew every single one of their students by name. “There were some characters at Acadia back then, too. In my final year, I went to Dr. Haley’s famous math class and there was a mix-up in the scheduling of the room. English Bible students were scheduled for the same time in the same room so they kept coming in. They’d ask, ‘Is this English Bible?’ and Dr. Haley would say, ‘No, no, it’s math,’ but English Bible students kept wandering in. Finally after four or five of them came and said, ‘Is this English Bible?’ he said, ‘Yes, it is. Take a seat.’ “And Dr. Haley kept inviting them in. The rest of the class could hardly keep a straight face. So then he started to do these long equations on the board – all the time with this dramatic gesturing. He’d say, ‘And the three wise men…’ and all his illustrations were Biblical stories as he wrote lengthy mathematical equations on the board. It was hilarious. I met his daughter this year for the first time and I told her that story and she said, ‘Were you in that class?’ Apparently when Dr. Haley came home that day, he recited to his wife and children what his day had been like. “Acadia graduates have always had a history of giving back. Some evidence

of that can be seen in the names on the residences and faculty buildings. Even people who didn’t attend Acadia ended up supporting the university. And certainly a lot of the families who had some wealth have been great patrons: families such as the Irvings, the Fountains and many others have been wonderful benefactors. I was always conscious of that. In my own family my mom and dad were supportive and so were my uncles and aunts, so there was that kind of precedent. People gave of their time and their resources and supported the University. “Acadia was and continues to be an excellent undergraduate school. It prepared me for a long and rewarding career. With the perspective of time I sometimes ask myself, ‘Would I take the same career path if I were starting out again today?’ Maybe. However, architecture and engineering have always fascinated me. One always wonders about such things. I don’t have an answer, but I know that Acadia would have prepared me well for any of those careers.”

Henry ‘Gar’ Pardy Henry ‘Gar’ Pardy (’66) served as a diplomat in the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs. He was director general of the Canadian Consular Service from 1992 to 2003 and has been credited with computerizing telecommunications within the organization. He established a crisis management centre in Ottawa whose model has been adopted by governments around the world. He retired in 2003 and is now a respected writer and commentator on Canadian foreign and public policy who is unafraid to speak truth to power. Originally from Newfoundland, Pardy took a circuitous route to Acadia. He first worked for the Meteorological Service of Canada in Gander, Goose Bay and Frobisher Bay, Baffin Island. It was only then that he found his way to the Annapolis Valley campus and obtained an honours in political science and a master’s from McMaster. He joined the Canadian Foreign Service in 1967 and served in India, Kenya, the United States and Central America. He is the former ambassador to 12


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Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. Pardy is also a respected authority on Asian affairs, having been director of the Asia Pacific Division in the late 1980s. Pardy’s wife Laurel (Balsor) Pardy (‘63 ) is an author and former educator. She met her diplomat husband while they were both students at Acadia. She has worked variously as a teacher, writer and editor, and from 2003 until her retirement as director of volunteers for the Riverside Hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. “In September of ’62, I arrived in the Valley for the first time. It was quite a change, let me tell you, from Baffin Island to the Annapolis Valley, and I realized almost immediately that I had made a darn good choice. “I was very interested in international affairs and politics, so that was the subject area I chose. There was one professor in that department at the time and that was Duncan Fraser. There were a dozen of us. It was a very tight-knit group and Duncan was unique. In that small group of us that were doing international, four of us ended up in the Department of Foreign Affairs, Canada’s foreign service. That’s an extremely impressive percentage when you consider that maybe seven or eight of us majored in the subject. “Acadia was wonderful. At that point, it had a student body of about 1,000. I was elected to student council representing the freshman class and had a seat on the council for all the years I was there. Those were the days when large almost became a mantra within education systems, but Acadia was able to avoid it. Certainly in terms of the personal involvement of professors, the idea of a small school was superior. “I was two or three years older than most students. I met my wife Laurel there, too. The funny thing is that in the fall of ’62, she was on student council as well. It was decided that Acadia needed a mascot and so Laurel and I were charged with trying to find some animal in the Valley. We found a local farmer who had a unique goat and we struck a deal where we could parade him on Saturday afternoons at the football games. That’s how Laurel and I met, and we’re having our 50th wedding anniversary soon. “I’ve recommended Acadia to a fair number of Gander people and traveling around

the world, Acadia is first on the list of places I’ve recommended. The experiences for me were so positive.”

Nar Zanolin There is a basketball culture at Acadia that dates back many decades, thanks to the coaching skills of legends like Stu Aberdeen, Gib Chapman and Dave Nutbrown. While a member of the powerhouse Acadia Axemen teams of the late 1960s and early ’70s, Nar Zanolin (’73) performed alongside some of the best players in the school’s history, including Brian Heaney (’69), Rick Eaton (’72), Steve Pound (’72) and Terry Condon (’72). A native of Montreal, Zanolin was good enough to crack an all-star lineup that was mostly American. Under coach Chapman, Zanolin’s teams contended perennially for national honours. Following Acadia, Zanolin made basketball a lifelong pursuit and rose to the very top of the game. He refereed the Gold Medal game at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. The U.S., coached by brilliant but belligerent Bobby Knight, captured the gold medal that year in a lopsided victory over Spain. The American team was packed with future NBA stars and Hall of Famers, including Michael Jordan (6’6”) and Patrick Ewing (7’). Zanolin began to referee shortly after graduating from Acadia. He quickly moved from high school to college games, and his teaching credentials and fluency in four languages took him to Europe, where he taught military dependents for NATO. Soon FIBA, the governing body of international basketball in Munich, came calling. In 1981, Zanolin officiated at the International Student Games in Romania and then the 1983 World Juniors in Spain. He returned to Nova Scotia to resume his teaching career and referee Atlantic university games. Once again FIBA intervened, inviting him to officiate at the XXIII Summer Games. Zanolin worked seven games in the tournament, and the question was, who would do the big one? On the eve of the gold medal game, Zanolin was told it would be him. “It was the most exhilarating feeling in the 13


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world,” he said. “They had to scrape me off the ceiling.” As it turned out, they very nearly had to scrape him off the floor when he gave a technical foul to Knight following a call against Ewing that Zanolin admits was horrendous. After the coach had vented and been hit with the technical, peace was restored and the game continued without incident. Only afterward was Zanolin able to appreciate what he had accomplished. “I had a feeling of elation where I looked at myself in the mirror and said, ‘You’re the best referee in the world. You just refereed the most important game in the world and you did a fine job.’” During the excitement that ensued after the Olympic gold medal game, Michael Jordan was holding the basketball, surrounded by his teammates. Zanolin approached him and said, “Excuse me, I have to do this.” Jordan gave him the game ball, which is still one of Zanolin’s prized possessions. After that, Zanolin moved steadily through the ranks of basketball administration until he reached the pinnacle. He was chosen Secretary General of FIBA Europe.

Cynthia Trudell Cynthia (Owens) Trudell (’74 ) has had one of the most successful and varied business careers imaginable, having made it to the

top in the boating, automotive and soft drink industries. She is now Executive Vice-President (Human Resources) at PepsiCo Inc., a position she has held since 2011. She deals with PepsiCo in more than 200 countries worldwide. Prior to working at PepsiCo, she was vice-president at Brunswick Corporation and President of their Sea Ray division. The daughter of a Saint John, N.B., car dealer, she became the first woman to head an automotive company. She served as vicepresident at General Motors and chairman and president of Saturn Corporation. “Acadia is a very, very special place for me in many, many ways. I don’t know if it was our professors or their approach, but I really learned how to think at Acadia. I don’t know if it’s unique to Acadia, but the curriculum was such that it wasn’t about rote memory. There was an expectation. In organic chemistry, you had to learn the periodic table and all about how that works, but they wanted you to apply what you’re learning. It’s all about applying what you know in a new situation. Learn and apply. I learned that at Acadia. “There was a strong interdisciplinary focus at Acadia. I think back to the English literature and art courses I took and they served me well. Art taught me spatial orientation. Now I’m not sure that’s what we were supposed to learn there, but that’s what I got. Where did that come in handy for me? Product design in the automotive industry and packaging. “And I never saw being a woman in business as any kind of obstacle. I never saw that at Acadia, either. There were probably three women or so in engineering and not many in chemistry, but no one ever said, ‘Well, gee you shouldn’t be doing this stuff.’ By the time I got to grad school the equation had been formed. This is not going to get in the way of me. I was never made to feel that women shouldn’t study chemistry. It was like, ‘You can do it if you want to.’ “The school was a nurturing place, so by the time I left Acadia I had a healthy balance between taking risk and having the courage to believe in myself. I learned that failure is an option. It wasn’t about just getting the grade; it was more than that. Every person I’ve ever talked to from Acadia says the same thing. It isn’t about checking the box and then getting out of there. “When they asked me to be head of human resources for PepsiCo, I was stunned at first 14


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and then realized I’ve been interested in this for a long time and wouldn’t admit it. It was an opportunity to learn something new and apply what I know, so for me in this role I can sit down and talk to one of the guys running the business and ask them to tell me about their performance metrics. “Acadia helped me to learn how to really think about things in multi-variant ways, not to be afraid to try new things. The career decisions are up to the students, but they are also supported there. It wasn’t big classrooms where you’re just like a number. I never felt like a number at Acadia.” “I think my brother Bob Owens (’76) would tell you the same thing. I’m very proud of my brother. He went to Acadia and took a business degree, started with London Life then broke off and I’ll never forget it. He said, ‘I’m going to go and start my own business with a partner,’ and they created a really unique business model for wealth management at Owens MacFadyen Group. He has done very, very well – a real tribute to someone coming out of the business school and the entrepreneurial spirit.”

riding of Kings South, which encompasses Acadia University. In January 2011, after holding other Cabinet positions, the former school teacher was named Minister of Education. “I started my studies in the Bachelor of Music program at Acadia and did a year of study in Calgary, where I had the opportunity to work with children with special needs. I recognized I had a passion for teaching. I returned to Acadia to do my BA (Theatre), which I absolutely loved. Evelyn Garbary was wonderful. Then I went forward with a Special Education degree. During my work in Education, I learned so much from Professor David Doake. After I had completed the first semester course, I went on to the second level course on literacy. He pushed, and either your brain had to start making new connections or you left the course. The way he made us look at literacy still informs my practice today. “This is my 40th anniversary of being a Tully (Whitman House) girl. I was on campus recently during frosh week when they were doing their move-in day and it was such a rush of nostalgia. During my time there, Tully was very strict – we signed in and signed out. In my first year, I developed friendships with people that to this day have stood the test of time. The people you meet at Acadia become lifelong friends, and there’s that sense of community right away in residence. “I took Canadian literature from Jack Sheriff and he made it fascinating. We developed a friendship and kept in close touch for a very long time. He loved teaching and literature; he loved theatre and was a real character to boot. Through his influence, I developed a real love for Canadian literature. “I found the professors that really challenged me were the ones I admired the most. Margie Brown was one of the profs in my master’s year. She was always posing philosophical questions about education. I was a practitioner at that time and she made you rethink what you were doing in the classroom. Being a mindful and reflective practitioner was developed through my work at Acadia. “My profs would probably tell you that I was a bit keen because I loved to learn. To this day I love learning, and Acadia provided the opportunity for that in a very intimate way. The profs knew who you were; they knew

Ramona Jennex In the 2009 Nova Scotia provincial election, Ramona Jennex (’78,’79,’97) was elected to the Nova Scotia House of Assembly from the 15


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you by your first name, not just a face in a classroom. They knew where you needed support and encouragement and I’m hearing from students who are at Acadia now that it still holds true today. “I remember conversations I had with [former Dean of Arts and University President] Dr. James Perkin. He was so welcoming back in the ‘70s and I see him frequently and he remembers those conversations. Once you go to Acadia, you’ve joined the family. I am a shameless promoter of Acadia and, at every opportunity, when I’m talking with young people, I tell them that if they want a really good university experience – that you wouldn’t find anywhere else – Acadia provides that unique kind of education. “Acadia gave me a chance to explore and question and develop. It allows you to nurture who you are, find your strengths and use them. I encourage people to go to Acadia because of the small-town, small campus, hands-on, family atmosphere. The same traditions are going on today that were going on 40 years ago – traditions like getting to know each other that lead you to recognize you are a valued part of the Acadia community.”

completed her MA in Arts Administration at New York University. She worked at Sotheby’s in Toronto, London and New York before becoming special assistant to the director of the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. She is past President of the Board of The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery in Toronto and past Board Chair of the Canadian Art Foundation, where she continues to serve on the advisory committee. Her experience includes her current involvement as Chair of the Arts Access Fund, and as a board member at Soulpepper Theatre Company, and the Hospital for Sick Children Foundation in Toronto. She has also been a director at Arts for Children of Toronto and at AMREF (African Medical and Research Foundation). “Acadia’s strength is it delivers this incredible educational and life experience. It’s a winning combination of academic excellence and a great university life. One of the best parts of the Acadia experience is the small classes; you know your professors. If you need to talk to them, you have access. If you want to participate in university life, it is available and open to you. It is big enough that you have choices, but small enough that you can participate. That’s the beauty of Acadia – combined with the fact that you have a beautiful, historic campus set in the bucolic Annapolis Valley. “I really enjoy hosting Acadia gettogethers. As a member of the Acadia Board of Governors living in Toronto, I had to put my mind to what I could do to play my role on the board. I can’t be in Wolfville all the time, so how to make an impact? I decided to introduce Acadia – what I think is the value and experience of the school – to the schools where my own children attend and many others in Ontario. We bring principals, headmasters, headmistresses and heads of guidance to our home to meet with Acadia representatives. It’s an important way to educate them on the value of an Acadia education. “I’ve also spent time working with the administration of Acadia when they have recruiting events in the GTA. I enjoy speaking at the beginning of a recruiting session to give my experience as a former student. I tell prospective students that if they’re looking for a school where you know your professors, Acadia’s a perfect choice. You’ll have a

Nancy McCain Nancy McCain (’82) has been a member of the Acadia Board of Governors since 2007. After her graduation from Acadia, she 16


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university life that can’t be matched, and you might not come back because the experience of the Maritimes might just capture you. “Ray Ivany, of course, is our secret weapon. When Ray visited Toronto recently and spoke at the Canadian Club, I hosted a table of high school headmasters and headmistresses. The headmaster of Crescent School, a well known boys’ school in Toronto, said to me: ‘I’d love to have him speak at my school, not just to speak to the students, but to speak to the parents because what he’s talking about – the kind of education that Acadia is delivering – is the kind of education that today’s kids need to have.’ “I grew up in a family where it was strongly felt that you had to do something, to give back. My parents and all of my siblings believe deeply in this ethos. My brother Stephen (’81) is a big supporter of Acadia and my sister Margie (’77) went to Acadia and came home with wonderful stories about her great friends. Many in my family went to Acadia and that’s one of the main reasons I chose to go there – the family connection. Going to a school like Acadia fosters that sense of community and that desire to be part of something bigger. It’s also very much a Maritime tradition. My father went there, my aunt went there, some of my uncles went there. I have a brother and sister who went there, a few cousins, as well as a nephew who graduated from the business school not long ago. I now have a niece studying chemistry at the University. And there will be more coming that way, I’m sure. We all had such a great experience, we want to share it.”

Dr. Beals’s definitive study of meteorite craters in the Canadian Shield would later become invaluable in the study of the surface of the moon as part of the Apollo program. One of the moon craters now bears his name. In turn, those moon landings captivated a whole generation of young astronomers, including Dale Frail (’83). Dr. Frail is an astronomer working at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Socorro, New Mexico. He received his undergraduate degree in physics from Acadia

and subsequently earned an MSc and PhD in astrophysics from the University of Toronto. He is perhaps best known for his discoveries of extra-solar planets and gamma-ray bursts. “The skies of Nova Scotia made me an astronomer,” he says. “I came about my interest in the usual way – I was a child of the moon landings. My interest in space and astronomy came from that. The person that cultivated that interest in me was Roy Bishop, a physics professor at Acadia. He was one of many high quality physics profs in that department. In a very gentle way, he encouraged me by providing the resources I needed to do a little bit of astronomy from the rooftop in the summers. He caught on to my interest in astronomy and helped steer me in that direction. “I merged that love of astronomy and the sky with my love of physics. I go to Acadia every chance I get to give lectures and try to give back as best I can. I have to calm down

Dale Frail Perhaps it’s those star-filled Annapolis Valley skies or the inspiration provided by professors such as Dr. Roy Bishop (’59). Perhaps the planets are simply aligned with the Wolfville campus. Whatever the reason, Acadia’s pioneering role in astronomy is fascinating to trace. Astronomer Dr. Carlyle Beals (’19) held the position of Dominion Astronomer for Canada from 1946 to 1964. He was later named to the Order of Canada and was a fellow of the Royal Society. 17


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so I don’t get too emotional about the place. It really means something to me – strongly. I don’t want to say anything bad about Toronto, but Toronto was the place where I got my PhD. It doesn’t have any hold on me. I became who I am because of Acadia. I met my wife in Toronto and got my PhD there, but I don’t have that same strong feeling that I have about Acadia. “What you find when you’re in those basic sciences like chemistry and biology and physics – especially physics – is that there are only so many ways to teach Physics 101, to get that basic physics grounding. I got that experience with a class size of only five or six people. “I got just as good a background at Acadia and they instilled in me that sense of hard work. I never considered myself terribly bright, but I must have brought some of the work ethic with me, being a farm boy. I have 250 people who work for me now and the majority of them are much brighter than I am, but I still work hard and there’s something about Acadia that allowed that. When I went to the University of Toronto I felt fully equipped, so all the preparation I had at Acadia served me well in terms of my confidence and abilities. When people say, ‘Where did you go to school?’ I always say ‘Acadia.’ Toronto doesn’t come into my head until they say, ‘Well where did you get your PhD?’ and then I say, ‘Oh, Toronto.’ So I identify myself first and foremost as an Acadia grad.”

Shirley MacLaine Actress Shirley MacLaine (Hon. ’85) did not attend Acadia University, but her connections extend well beyond the honorary degree that she was given in 1985. MacLaine’s mother, Kathlyn McLean Beaty, graduated in 1928 and while a student was awarded an ‘A’ for her campus involvement in dramatics and athletics. Two of MacLaine’s aunts, Alexandra Eaton (’28) and Virginia MacLeod (’29), also attended Acadia, and her grandmother, Mrs. Blanche MacLean, was Dean of Women and taught elocution. MacLaine, whose brother is actor Warren Beatty, grew up in Wolfville until the age of 12 when the family moved to the United States.

Following the presentation of her honorary degree, she told the audience of graduating students about her mother’s oft-repeated love for the “institution that sat near the windswept shores of the Atlantic.” Apparently the verbal indoctrination was effective because MacLaine admitted she came to believe that “Acadia was the seat of knowledge in the western world. “From this university sprang the dreams and theatrical human expressions that so influenced me when I was growing up,” said the woman who has received multiple Academy Award nominations and won an Oscar for Terms of Endearment. She has also won an Emmy and five Golden Globe awards. She has written several books about her career and her spiritual beliefs.

Ted Upshaw On the basketball court, Ted Upshaw (’80) was always a leader. The 6’6”, 225-pound star of the Acadia Axemen teams of the late 1970s was an enforcer, and the Three Mile Plains, N.S. native led Acadia to the nationals four times. In 1976–77, they captured the Canadian university championship under coach Dick Hunt. “Winning with several Nova Scotians 18


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on the squad was my biggest thrill,” Upshaw said, reflecting on the team concept that characterized his approach to the game. Following graduation, Upshaw joined the RCMP and rose to the highest rank ever attained by a black member of the national force. He became the first African-Canadian to become a commissioned officer with the RCMP and the first black RCMP inspector. He served as superintendant for the Northeast Nova District in Nova Scotia. “I received a BA in sociology from Acadia, but I also received a lesson from the camaraderie of those teams,” he said. “The experience taught me that I had to work hard to earn the right to compete at that level. In a similar vein with the RCMP, I knew that if I didn’t work hard and take advantage of opportunities, I’d be left behind. Acadia is a great school. I believe in it whole-heartedly and I sell it to others at every opportunity. It was an honour to be part of that athletic community.” When he retired in 2009, Upshaw became general manager for Corporate Security at Canada Post.

Peter MacKay Peter MacKay (’87) was first elected to the House of Commons in 1997. When the Conservative Party of Canada came to power in 2006, MacKay became Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. He moved from Foreign Affairs to Defense in a 2007 Cabinet shuffle, where he remained as minister until July 15, 2013, when he assumed the Justice portfolio and became Attorney General of Canada. “My older sister Cethlyn (’86) went to Acadia and two younger sisters, Mary Louise (’89) and Rebecca (’95), did, too. Both of my parents have degrees from Acadia and my grandfather attended Acadia. All of my grandfather’s brothers and his sister also went there, so there was a very large clan of MacKays that went to Acadia from my grandfather’s family, and my grandfather’s brother Donald was student council president. My mother Macha (Delap) MacKay graduated in 1960 and my dad (former MP and federal minister) Elmer MacKay (’60) was doing his law degree at Dal, but he had not done an undergraduate. In those days you could go on to law and so he had gone to Dalhousie to take engineering and then switched to law, but started doing his BA and completed it at Acadia simultaneously.

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“The family connection was definitely a factor: that other family members had gone to Acadia and I was familiar with it growing up. I had spent time on the campus as early as high school, attending football games and visiting. It seemed like the right thing to do. There was continuity in my education in going to Acadia so it was very attractive. It felt very much like home when I got there. “I played rugby and intramural hockey for years. Ironically, I was not ever involved or interested in student politics. In fact, I avoided it like the plague. But I did follow politics and took a double major in history and political science. “How did Acadia prepare me for politics? Acadia has very strong academic traditions, with an atmosphere that encourages critical and creative thinking, complemented by the open and welcomed dialogue between professors and students. It fosters the spirit of being involved in your community and country. Acadia was very fertile ground for development as a young person. It is such a part of the community that you feel like you are a part of the town and the Annapolis Valley immediately upon setting foot on campus. I have great memories of going tubing in the Gaspereau Valley and playing ball on the Ridge. A very idyllic place in my view, and my memories are very warm. “Acadia has always benefited from great leadership, too, and that would include the current president, Ray Ivany. I just think the world of Ray. He did a great deal for the Nova Scotia Community Colleges, but he’s a very hands-on, brilliant guy. Connects with students and faculty like no one I’ve seen. He has a different style from, say, a James Perkin, who was also a tremendous leader. Perkin was very athletic, even at his age when he was president. I recall him doing the ceremonial Acadia kick-off before the Homecoming Game one year and he must have kicked it 40 yards, deep into the other end. Then the Acadia kicker – and I won’t mention his name because it would embarrass him – came out and flubbed the opening kick-off. It squibbed about 25 yards and everyone looked toward Dr. Perkin and chanted: ‘Suit him up! Suit him up!’”

Stacy Wilson Stacy Wilson (’87) holds the distinction of being Acadia’s first Olympic medalist. She was captain of the Team Canada hockey squad that captured silver at the 1998 Nagano Olympics. The Salisbury, N.B., native honed her hockey skills as a founding member of the Acadia Axettes – a club team since Acadia had no women’s varsity team. Nevertheless, the Axettes captured two provincial championships and represented Nova Scotia at the Women’s National Championship in ’86 and ’87. Wilson graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and was later inducted into the Acadia Sports Hall of Fame. She is also a member of the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame. She became head coach of the Bowdoin College women’s ice hockey team and has also authored a book entitled, The Hockey Book for Girls. “My four years at Acadia were filled with great people and wonderful experiences. My sister Shelley had attended Acadia before me, graduating in 1982. That is when I first visited Wolfville and saw the campus.

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Voices of Acadia

I simply loved the small university town vibe and the beauty of the campus. At the beginning, the [hockey] team was made up mostly of young women who had never played the game. We practised at 6:30 a.m. once or twice a week and played two games that first season, losing both badly to Dalhousie. The next season we added a few players who had played hockey before and we actually defeated Dal on our way to attend what was then the ESSO Senior Women’s National Championship. It was so great to see all the very talented female hockey players from across Canada, and although ‘Team Canada’ for women did not exist until five years later, seeing those teams and players made me want to get better. “I have so many fond memories of my teammates and coaches from those years. We carried our hockey bags full of equipment down the hill – and back up! – in the middle of winter for those early morning practices because it was the only ice time we could get. We wore the men’s team’s old jerseys, raised money ourselves, and even taught people how to strap on skates. I wouldn’t change any of it, but am happy that there are more opportunities for women to play now, and under better circumstances. “The small Acadia campus allowed me to get to know professors and them to get to know me, which was very helpful in making my way through four years successfully. It also allowed for lots of student spirit surrounding all of the activities on campus – so much fun! There was always someone you knew regardless of where you were on campus! “I feel fortunate to have received my undergraduate education from Acadia. It was undoubtedly the people – fellow students, professors, and university staff – who made it the special place that it was for me. It also prepared me well for my teaching career and the pursuit of my master’s in education. It was the perfect fit for me and certainly could be for others as well.”

Lorie Kane Professional golfer Lorie Kane (’88) became a perennial contender on the Ladies’ Professional Golf Association (LPGA) circuit. The Charlottetown, P.E.I. native won the Canadian PGA Women’s Championship in 1996 and has a total of four tour victories. She received the Order of Canada in 2006 and was Canada’s Female Athlete of the Year in 1998. The Globe and Mail has called her “arguably Canada’s most beloved athlete. (She) begrudges no one an interview, a handshake, a kind word, a shared joke.” At a tournament in Phoenix, Arizona, Nova Scotia fans in the gallery, including Acadia graduates Don Caldwell (’57), Lynn Kotze (’83), and Dave Hirsch (’71), held up an Acadia sign with words of support. Sure enough, Kane walked over to them, a wide grin on her face. “Are we all going to sing Stand Up and Cheer?” she asked, then went out and shot a sparkling 66, the lowest score of the day.

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“I’ve continued to work in Uganda and am currently in year one of a five-year collaborative study – funded by the National Science Foundation in the U.S. – to compare my sites, and the apes species we have found there, to apes found at sites of similar age in Kenya. The goal of this project is to try to reconstruct the environments that the earliest apes evolved in so that we can better understand the selective pressures that led to the evolution of key features that distinguish apes and humans, such as large body size, slow life history, upright posture, and so on. “At Acadia, I majored in biology and by the end of my second year I was carrying out research projects with Professor Dan Toews in his physiology lab. He basically ‘plucked’ me from his physiology class and suggested I apply for funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to work with him. I got the funding, and so after just two years of college, I had the opportunity to help design and carry out experiments at a level that I now realize usually only happens in graduate school. This type of hands-on experience, and the chance to work closely with my professors, also occurred in my science classes in general, although not quite to this extent. But whether it was a biology, geology, chemistry or physics class, lab sections were small and we all received personal attention. Acadia prepared me superbly for a career in science and I am very appreciative of the challenging, rigorous, but nurturing training I received there. “I grew up in Wolfville and I adore the picturesque campus and the bucolic but bustling town itself. I have a daughter who will be applying to college in another year, and I am already encouraging her to consider Acadia.”

Dr. Laura MacLatchy Dr. Laura MacLatchy (’88) is a professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She grew up in the shadow of Acadia’s University Hall, the daughter of Acadia science dean Dr. Cy MacLatchy and Ann (Robinson ’63) MacLatchy. According to her father, MacLatchy’s fascination with dinosaurs dated back to the age of four. When she finally arrived on campus as a student, she was hungry for more knowledge and through her father’s connections in the scientific community, she even had a brief meeting with esteemed Acadia alumnus Dr. Charles Huggins (’20) in Chicago. In 1997, Laura caught the attention of the larger scientific community when her research party discovered an ape fossil in Uganda. The 90-pound Morotopithecus came from a time some 20 million years ago, when earth really did qualify as a planet of the apes. The find represented another key piece in the evolutionary puzzle, and MacLatchy was subsequently featured in several scientific journals (Scientific American and Discover) as well as in interviews on BBC and CNN. Since then she has expanded her initial research in East Africa and acknowledges the significant role that Acadia played in fostering her love of science.

Carol ‘Cookie’ Rankin After completing her degree in theatre and fine arts at Acadia, Carol Jean ‘Cookie’ Rankin (’89) began to perform full-time with The Rankin Family. She honed her talents at ceilidhs with her 10 siblings in her native Mabou, Cape Breton. The Rankins won 15 East Coast Music Awards and six Junos 22


Voices of Acadia

in addition to many other honours. Cookie divides her time between homes in Montreal and Nashville. “I spent two years at Acadia. I transferred after getting my base courses in the arts at St. F.X. I loved it at Acadia. I really thought it was a departure from what I experienced at home. You had a whole community of kids who were interested in the same thing – learning more about the fine arts like theatre and dance. That was really cool. I just felt like I was able to tap into something about myself creatively through these different courses. I didn’t stick with theatre, but I used a lot of what I learned at Acadia in music. “I always loved Wolfville. I just thought it had a real romantic sense to it, so when I went back to perform I was brought back to those times of walking in the snow and the church bells ringing and the leaves in the fall. It made me nostalgic. Everything about Acadia is lovely. It was a wonderful experience, with great teachers. It’s kind of a transition time for most kids, so if you’re able to have a few grey cells between your ears, you will walk away with something great. It’s the most wonderful gift any kid could possibly have.”

an English department willing to view it with respect. “I called Hilary and told her I wanted to do my MA in English, but in children’s literature. She respected the genre, respected the literature and respected me as a creative, critical academic. Every professor in that English department was just amazing to me. Donna Smyth was transforming. It was so liberating to be in a class where I could use my academic background, but also my creative self. I would really credit Acadia as the place where I found my voice. I also knew as I went forward and created children’s literature that I would never apologize for it. That’s how transformative Acadia was for me. It was a soul-shaping period in my life. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I was going to go forth and be a writer. “Hilary and Donna were two really strong women who broke ground, creatively and academically, as friends and mentors. There are people in life who I call ‘permissionaries,’ people who give you permission to really be the person that you are. I feel that both Hilary and Donna were permissionaries both in my personal and creative life. They showed me a way. “At the time, I was an older single parent trying to make a living while supporting two children. Acadia was a beautiful community that welcomed me with all my life experience. They were small classes, but that meant it was a close-knit community and everybody was very supportive.”

Sheree Fitch Sheree Fitch (’94) is one of Canada’s most beloved authors of children’s literature. With more than 25 books to her credit, including classics such as Toes in My Nose and Sleeping Dragons All Around, she is also a tireless advocate for children’s rights and literacy education worldwide. She has also made successful forays into adult fiction, and her most recent novel, Kiss the Joy as it Flies, was shortlisted for the Stephen Leacock Award for Literary Humour. “I chose Acadia specifically because of Dr. Hilary Thompson, who was then in the English department. At that time in Canada there was no place I could go to do graduate work in children’s literature and she was a pioneer in making that possible. Very few professors in graduate schools thought that literature for kids was worthy of scholarly study. It had a bad rap. They called it kiddy litter and nonsense. In Acadia, I found a university and 23


Voices of Acadia

Marjorie Fountain Marjorie Fountain (Hon. ’99) is the daughter of famed industrialist and noted philanthropist Fred C. Manning. In 1957, her husband, Sheldon L. Fountain (’39), was asked to start a business school at Acadia and the couple moved to Wolfville to do just that. It was decided that the new institution would be named for Marjorie’s father, and Fred Manning thereby became the first person in Canada to have a business school named after him. Since those early days, the Fred C. Manning School of Business has become one of the most respected schools of its kind in the country, producing numerous entrepreneurs and captains of industry. The Manning Memorial Chapel is another Acadia landmark that owes its existence to the generosity of the Manning and Fountain families. It is difficult to overstate the impact that this beautiful chapel has had on students over its 50-year history. It has become as much a part of the campus as University Hall, serving the spiritual needs of students, alumni and faculty alike. Another Acadia landmark is similarly rooted in the generosity of the Fountain family, namely the Sheldon L. Fountain Learning Commons, which officially opened in May 2007. The Learning Commons provides

to faculty, staff, students and community members the opportunity to experience local and international perspectives in learning, teaching and education. Marjorie Fountain’s great-uncle was Joshua Slocum, the first man to sail around the world alone, and it is that same kind of spirit and can-do attitude that has characterized her life. “They had no school of business at that point. They had a secretarial school, but that was different. At that time in the late ’50s, a lot of universities were starting schools of business. It was the new thing, the big thing to do at that time. Dr. (Watson) Kirkconnell, the president, asked my husband to come to Acadia for that express purpose: to set up the course and the school. Sheldon had graduated in ’39 and went on to Boston University, where he got his MBA. We moved to Wolfville in 1957 and he set out to start the school. It was a very difficult year because he was working so hard to know what books to assign and what curriculum to use. He was starting from scratch and it was a daunting experience because there was no roadmap. “I’m very proud of what my father did and I’m very proud of what my husband did, and very grateful that we were able to do that for 24


Voices of Acadia

Acadia. At one time I was one of the senators at Acadia, and that meant a lot to me. I still have many friends there. I keep in touch with Walt Isenor and Roger Prentice (’69) and the current chaplain of Manning Memorial Chapel, Tim McFarland. Tim is a good friend. In fact, all the chaplains have been close friends. We knew them all. “I think a small university is wonderful. It’s better for the students and conducive to a nice family atmosphere. Nothing against Dalhousie, but there is no real campus – and the buildings are all over the city, whereas at Acadia and Mount A and St. F.X. you have these nice cozy campuses. The small town setting is good, too. You get the town and the campus for the price of one. I would absolutely recommend Acadia to any high school student. The professors and staff are so caring.” In the spring of 1999, Marjorie and Sheldon Fountain were awarded honorary degrees from Acadia. At the reception that followed the ceremonies, Arthur Irving (’52) asked former dean of the business school Walter Isenor if he would introduce him to Marjorie. Walt complied and Mr. Irving proceeded to pay her father the ultimate business compliment. “When your dad was in the oil business, our sales were about like that (he held his hand at about a 10-degree angle) and when he got out of the oil business (he then raised the angle to about 80 degrees), that’s when we started to make money.”

“It’s great at Acadia because you can really get involved and make changes and have lots of fun at the same time. For three years I was the student liaison to keep the communication bridge open between biology faculty and the students. I attended faculty meetings and brought up issues the students were having, took things to faculty and then from faculty to the students. It was open and they trusted what you had to say; it was a good place to be. “When I went away to medical school, it was a hard transition for me. The university in Ireland is very large, much different from Acadia’s campus. But the Acadia faculty would be e-mailing me all the time asking how it was going. That really wouldn’t happen anywhere else. It’s kind of like having a lifelong mentor who never leaves you. “I would recommend Acadia to anyone. It’s not really a school. It’s a family – the family of Acadia and the community of Wolfville. You’re not a number. The whole thing about undergrad I think is that it’s not so much what you learn in the classroom or what degree you have, it’s the experiences you have while you’re there: the friends and connections you make. Sometimes my medical school colleagues discuss which school they will call their alma mater. I’m the only who came from a small school in the Maritimes and they all are fascinated why I’m so proud of my school. We get into that discussion of what your alma mater will be – will it be your med school or undergrad? I just say, ‘Acadia’.”

Sarah Cheeseman Sarah Cheeseman (‘12) is a recent graduate who literally proclaims her love for her alma mater far and wide. She is proof also that while you must eventually leave Acadia, Acadia never really leaves you. Sarah is currently attending the University of Limerick Medical School in Ireland. “I really wanted a smaller school so I had scouted out all of the schools in the Maritimes. Then I came to Acadia and loved the campus and loved all the people who were there. That made the decision for me. I wasn’t there very long, but I just made the decision. I came from Ontario – it was a long distance and sort of a risky decision, but I’m glad I made it now. 25


Editor: Fred Sgambati (’83) Graphic Design: Cathy Little Stories written and compiled by Jim Prime (’69)

175.acadiau.ca

Photo credits: Acadia University Archives, Acadia University Communications and Marketing, Andrew Tolson (Maclean’s), Jessica Darminan (Maclean’s), Dan Callis, Gilles Plante, Sandra Symonds, Fred Sgambati

Voices of Acadia - 175th Anniversary  

As Acadia University celebrates its 175th anniversary, we bring you stories and recollections of our people. This is the first in a three-pa...

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