UPEI honours all past-presidents as Founders of the University

Occasion marked by Presidents’ Panel: The Past Inspiring UPEI’s Future
Posted: 
Friday, October 2, 2015
Past-presidents of UPEI Ron Baker, Peter Meincke, Betsy Epperly, and Wade MacLauchlan, shown here with current President Alaa Abd-El-Aziz at left, were honoured as University Founders at the Recognition of Founders Ceremony.

The University of Prince Edward Island honoured its five past presidents at its sixteenth annual Recognition of Founders ceremony today. The 2015 Founders are Dr. Ronald J. Baker, Dr. Peter P.M. Meincke, Dr. C.W.J. “Willie” Eliot (posthumously), Dr. Elizabeth R. Epperly, and the Hon. H. Wade MacLauchlan.

“UPEI's Recognition of Founders Ceremony is a time to come together as a community and celebrate those who have helped us establish who we are today,” said President Alaa Abd-El-Aziz. “It is a fitting that all our past presidents be given this honour, together, as they represent collectively the foundation of our University.”

Mr. Dana Kenny, president of the UPEI Student Union, presented the citations for each of the past presidents during the ceremony, while journalist Bruce Rainnie moderated the Presidents’ Panel: The Past Inspiring UPEI’s Future. The public panel discussion featured each Founder presenting his or her views on how elements of UPEI’s history, during their time as president, will shape the future of the University.

President emeritus and founding President Ron Baker, who was hired in 1969 at the age of 45 to take the reins of the newly established institution, commented, “At 91, I feel too out-of-date and increasingly incompetent to say much about the future, though given all that has happened since my time, I firmly believe that it will be great.”

“Thank you to our past presidents Ron, Peter, Betsy, and Wade,” added President Abd-El-Aziz. “Your words are inspiring and we will continue to strive to be the best for our students and to celebrate our accomplishments as a University, to carry on your legacy.”

Following the panel discussion, UPEI unveiled plans for THE INSPIRE! CAMPAIGN, a $50 million friend- and fund-raising campaign that will support University priorities: engineering, veterinary medicine, athletics, and experiential and global learning. A one million dollar gift from the SDU Board of Governors was announced as the first major leadership gift.

The Honourable Eugene F. Whelan Green Hat Award, which pays tribute to individuals who have made an exceptional impact on the Atlantic Veterinary College, was presented later in the day to the Cristofor Foundation.

About the Founders

Dr. Ronald J. Baker, President Emeritus, Founding President
Born in London, England, Ron Baker served with the Royal Air Force and trained in Manitoba. In 1947, he immigrated to Canada. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1951 and a Master of Arts degree in 1953 from the University of British Columbia, both in English. From 1954 to 1956, he did graduate work in the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. Following a distinguished period as professor and administrator at UBC and Simon Fraser University, Ronald Baker came to UPEI in 1969 as our founding President and served until 1978.

Dr. Peter P.M. Meincke, President Emeritus
Peter Meincke was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1936. He graduated with the sword of honour from the Royal Military College of Canada in 1958, obtained a degree in Engineering Physics from Queen's University, Kingston, followed by a master's and PhD in Low Temperature Solid State Physics from the University of Toronto. He taught physics and was appointed Associate Dean for Science and subsequently Vice-Provost at the University of Toronto. He was appointed second President of the University of Prince Edward Island in 1978 and served in this role until 1985.

Dr. C.W.J. “Willie” Eliot, President Emeritus
Born in Rawalpindi, Pakistan in 1928, Dr. C.W.J. “Willie” Eliot had a prolific professional career as a classicist, especially in Greek history and archaeology. After receiving his Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Toronto, he attended the American School of Classical Studies in Athens from 1952 to 1957 where he did graduate research. A well-travelled classical scholar, Willie Eliot took up his duties as UPEI’s third President in 1985, after a number of years at Mount Allison University, including several as Vice-President. He served as UPEI President until 1995.

Dr. Elizabeth R. Epperly, Past-President, Student Founder
Recognized as a student trailblazer and named as a Founder in 2006, Dr. Elizabeth Rollins Epperly came to UPEI from her Virginia home in 1969—PEI's opening year. She was the University's very first enrollee on record.  Inspired by the writings of Lucy Maud Montgomery, her coming to the Island was the fulfillment of a dream. After graduating in 1973 with her Bachelor of Arts in English literature, she then proceeded to Dalhousie for her Masters degree in 1974 and eventually completed her Doctorate at the University of London in 1978. Dr. Epperly became UPEI's fourth and first female President in 1995 and served until 1998.

The Honourable H. Wade MacLauchlan, President Emeritus
Wade MacLauchlan, born in Stanhope, is the only Islander to serve as UPEI president. A lawyer by training, he had a successful academic career at Dalhousie Law School, the University of New Brunswick and, particularly, as the fifth President of the University of Prince Edward Island from 1999 to 2011. His tenure as President is marked by tremendous enrolment, research, and core funding growth. With his advocacy for learning and practical skills in writing and diplomacy, Wade MacLauchlan is celebrated for his contributions to his province. He continued this tradition of public service when he was sworn in as Premier of Prince Edward Island earlier this year.

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