| University of Victoria Alumni Magazine | Spring 2000 | Back Issues | Contact

Alumni President's Message | Feature | News | Alumni Profiles | Keeping in Touch | Vox Alumni


Ten Strong Years:
President David Strong prepares to step aside after steering UVic through 10 years of change.

September Start for Turpin
UVic’s next president, Dr. David Turpin, starts his five-year term September 1.

Excellence in Teaching Awards:
The UVic Alumni Association presents its annual selection of professors who transcend lectures and exams.

Distinguished Alumni Awards:
The UVic Alumni Association presents its annual selection of alumni who make us proud.

Keeping Time

Vox Alumni

Festival Events Calendar

Excellence in Teaching Awards

Distinguished Alumni Awards


Alumni Profiles:
Shel Brodsgaard
ABE Books

Keeping in Touch


10 Strong Years

By Bruce Kilpatrick (BA ’80)

Ask David Strong how UVic’s changed during his years as president and he’ll start with the “huge turnover” in people—more than 300 faculty members, at least an equal number of staff, and thousands of students.

“Even if the people themselves aren’t changing, they’re changing their ideas. You think of the university sitting here as a nice stable place, but there are incredible changes going on behind that stable exterior.”

Strong, who steps down June 30, arrived from Newfoundland’s Memorial University in 1990. “When I came here UVic was a justly proud university. It had done great things.”

But changes were on the way. “Big-time expensive research was just coming to UVic, almost all of our funding was from government… and there was almost no interest in the utilization of our research in technology transfer.” The Innovation and Development Corporation was created early in his first term to develop the commercial potential of UVic research. “Some would see [commercialization] as a negative, but I think it’s just part of the institution’s obligations to put knowledge to work for society.” The value of external funding for research on campus has grown to $26 million per year.

Despite a dramatic 28 per cent growth in the number of students and a steady decline in resources, Strong says UVic has emerged a university of “truly international scope and significance”— a reflection of Strong’s priorities. From a handful of international academic agreements, UVic now maintains formal links with 118 institutions in 27 countries.

And interdisciplinary research and teaching has become a defining characteristic on campus with 10 new interdisciplinary centres (for a total of 13) established in areas ranging from aging and forest biology, to advanced materials and related technology, and religion and society. “If you were to ask me what the ideal university is, I’d have a university without departments, maybe even without faculties,” he says. “The thing that holds us back is when we don’t have the disciplines interacting. Throughout the existence of scholarly activity, the real breakthroughs have come at the edges of so-called disciplines.”

Strong is known for his informal approach (“I’m not really a pomp and circumstance person”), his one-to-one people skills and a wicked sense of humour.

He’s also known as someone who isn’t particularly concerned about getting personal credit for getting things done. When pushed, he’ll cite the preservation of the Mystic Vale ecological reserve, the acquisition of the UVic Gordon Head recreation complex, and the university’s success in convincing the Commonwealth Games Society to invest in an athlete’s village that now serves as student residences.

Academically, the new Centre for Global Studies and the new Centre for Innovative Teaching top his list. Global Studies helps put UVic in a unique position to address issues of global economic change, immigration, and cultural dynamics while the teaching centre will “set UVic off as a real leader in teaching.” Other universities talk about future classrooms wired to the latest technology and equipped with innovations such as swivel seats that allow small group discussion without leaving the room—UVic’s is already built and in use.

Nearly 26,000 students will have graduated while he’s been president, about half the university’s total since 1963, and Strong is pleased with the strengthening of links between UVic and its alumni. “The enthusiasm is fantastic,” he says. It’s a sharp contrast to a 1991 visit to Kelowna. “We expected a room full of people— one person showed up.” The next day in Kamloops five people turned out. Things are different now with alumni branches in 38 countries and another 22 across Canada. A return visit to Kelowna last December brought out 70 alumni.

In July, Strong, an internationally respected geologist and volcano specialist, takes a faculty position in the school of earth and ocean sciences. The biggest challenge in the job he’ll be leaving? “Universities never have the resources we need to do all the good things we could and should do…There will never be enough because knowledge is infinite and the opportunities are endless…but the most satisfying part of the job is to be able to say we’ve managed to do at least some things right.”

UVic President David Strong


September Start for Turpin

UVic’s next president is Dr. David Turpin, currently vice-principal (academic) at Queen’s University. Turpin, 43, was selected after an extensive national search and starts his five-year term September 1. He’s a pre-eminent plant physiologist and biochemist, an accomplished teacher and an outstanding academic leader.

Although Turpin has been at the Ontario university for all but two of the last 18 years, his British Columbia roots run deep. He was born in Duncan and raised in Esquimalt and Vancouver.

His academic honours include a Royal Society of Canada fellowship, the 1989–90 Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship, and the Queen’s Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Look for more about UVic’s next president in the Autumn issue of the Torch.

UVic's next president, Dr. David Turpin


Dr. Edward Berry, Department of English

Prof. Elsie Chan, Department of Sociology

Dr. Richard King, Pacific and Asian Studies

Excellence in Teaching Awards

From around campus each year, the UVic Alumni Association invites nominations for its Awards for Excellence in Teaching. Nominators tirelessly compile thick dossiers of persuasive supporting evidence — letters of support, reviews from students and peers, examples of course material and statements of teaching philosophy from the nominees.

Three more exceptional people have been selected for this year’s awards. They represent different academic fields but their approaches to education have common threads of innovation, enthusiasm and dedication.

Dr. Edward Berry, Department of English

“Teaching is a collaborative effort … so my students deserve at least half the credit for the award,” says Ed Berry, a Shakespearean who has been a part of the UVic English department since 1975.

“When (he) stands in front of a class,” wrote one nominator, “he bears about him the authority of his years as chair and dean as well as the authority that his several books have earned him, but his relation to students, whatever their ages, seems entirely unaffected.”

Berry’s teaching skills reach beyond campus and into the Canadian judiciary. Since 1981, he’s conducted highly regarded seminars for judges to help them improve the writing skills they apply to their written reasons for judgement. Several judges who’ve taken his seminar wrote letters of support for his award nomination.

In the teaching statement included with his nomination, Berry wrote: “I attempt to draw out the distinctive perspectives of individual students, creating a dialogue among text, individual, and group. As my own interests have evolved I have tried to introduce courses that translate my research energies into creative dialogue with students.”

Prof. Elsie Chan, Department of Sociology

In less than two years since becoming a sessional instructor, Elsie Chan is already something of a legend in the UVic sociology department. “I couldn’t have made it through the course without Elsie,” is commonly heard said among her students, especially those in the demanding and mandatory introductory statistics course. They praise her ability to make a difficult subject approachable and understandable.

She’s a teacher who, according to a colleague, “exudes enthusiasm for her subject and interest in her students.” The “amazing Prof. Chan” has developed her own notes to accompany text books, produced so professionally that someone wondered where they had been purchased.

“I place great emphasis on the importance of developing an understanding of the purpose of learning,” says Chan. “I believe in setting reasonable and attainable goals, and I also seek to encourage each student to recognize their individual potential.”

“My long-term goal is to write a companion text and create an interactive web site for an introductory statistics course.”

Dr. Richard King, Pacific and Asian Studies

Walk into one of Richard King’s first-year Chinese language courses and you’ll find a kaleidoscope of technology and culture that might include Asian rock-and-roll, students acting out skits, and even stuffed animals loaned by the professor’s kids. “Essentially anything that keeps students’ attention in a two-hour class. Focus is always needed,” says King, who chairs the Pacific and Asian studies department.

Along with language, King’s teaching also includes Chinese literature and Asian popular culture—fields evolving quickly with new developments in technology, cultural products, scholarship and theoretical approaches. “I have had students watching Chinese TV news and variety shows delivered by satellite, finding news stories and magazine articles from throughout the Chinese-speaking world on the web… and I’ve tried to incorporate new Chinese cinema and popular music into courses on both language and literature.”

Wrote one of his nominators: “Every member of his class is active in the learning process. Dr. King has a way of making his students feel like every question and comment is important and relevant to the course.”


Distinguished Alumni Awards

Since 1993, the UVic Alumni Association has recognized outstanding members of the alumni family who have distinguished themselves in academics, athletics, the arts, business, or community and public service. Along with the award, scholarships are given in the name of each recipient.

This year, the Distinguished Alumni Award goes to three outstanding individuals (two of whom, coincidentally, graduated from the same department in the same year) who are leaders in their respective fields.

Eliza C.H. Chan (LLB ’82)

Eliza Chan is one of Hong Kong’s top corporate and commercial lawyers, expert in the art of doing business in China. And her professional and community service appointments are seemingly endless.

She acts as principal legal adviser to several major Chinese companies and she’s a legal adviser to the Hong Kong Chinese Enterprises Association, representing all major Chinese companies, banks and institutions in Hong Kong. She holds or has held a number of Hong Kong government appointments, notably to the board of the hospital authority, the board of education and school examinations authority.

Chan came to UVic from Vancouver where she and her family had emigrated from Hong Kong in 1970. She was attracted by the law faculty’s compact size and the university’s relaxed atmosphere.

“During my time at UVic, I remember most the late Dr. Terry Wuester for his fascinating and lively discussions on tort cases,” she says. “I also respected greatly Prof. Bill Neilson for his solemn, and yet at the same time easy approach to teaching.”

Chan remains an important supporter of UVic in China and Asia, serving as vice chair of UVic’s Gateway Campaign in Asia. Her parents reside in Vancouver.

Peter Ciceri (BA ’79)

Peter Ciceri is president and managing director of Compaq Canada, the Canadian subsidiary of the second largest computer maker in the world.

“I am honoured to be a recipient (of the award),” says Ciceri. “My reaction of appreciation isn’t without some degree of surprise. Regardless, I am grateful.”

Ciceri has full responsibility for Compaq’s Canadian operations including sales, marketing, systems engineering, field support, distribution, finance, administration and customer satisfaction.

“In addition to good fortune, a successful career requires the ability and courage to throw one’s self into the deep end and then swim,” says Ciceri. “This ability is based on much—including a solid grounding of experience. For me, UVic played a significant role.”

Prior to joining Compaq in 1998, the UVic economics graduate worked in the Asia Pacific region for 13 years holding a variety of senior management positions with information technologies firms, including Hewlett-Packard and Tandem. His career began in sales with Xerox Canada.

Ciceri is a fifth generation Victorian whose sister Robin is a UVic alumna who has held a number of senior positions within the B.C. civil service.

Miles Richardson (BA ’79)

Miles Richardson, chief commissioner of the B.C. Treaty Commission, graduated with a BA in economics in 1979 and has gone on to become a proven and respected leader.

“I had determined at a very young age that I wanted to go to university and I chose UVic because of its smaller environment. I made the right choice. It was my first venture out into the world and the university really expanded my exposure to the world,” says Richardson.

He met life-long friends living on the first floor of the Sir Arthur Currie residences and despite the floor don’s advice to “take anything except economics” he enrolled in a second year economics course and never looked back.

“If I was starting university today I’d take economics again. It demystified important aspects of how nations, institutions and individuals work.”

Richardson was president of the nation’s council for 12 years, leading the protection of the Gwaii Haanas region of the Haaida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) and the establishment of a $50 million community endowment fund.

In 1998 he was appointed head of the B.C. Treaty Commission, the unanimous choice of the Canadian and B.C. governments and the First Nations Summit.

Alumni President's Message | Feature | News | Alumni Profiles | Keeping in Touch | Vox Alumni

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