2009 Fredericton Convocation

Graduation Address

Delivered by: Campbell, H.E.A. (Eddy)

Installation Address
H.E.A. (Eddy) Campbell, 18th President & Vice-Chancellor
University of New Brunswick
55th Convocation

October 22, 2009

What a great privilege and an honour it is to be addressing my first group of UNB graduates in my new role as president.

My wife Diane, my daughter Maggie and I are thrilled to be in New Brunswick and are settling into our new home. Maggie is attending high school, learning alongside hundreds of students who will come to UNB to further their education upon graduation.

Although this day includes an installation ceremony, it is first and foremost about our graduates. I would like to begin by offering them a few words of advice.

Graduates, one of the most important factors in your future success is to have a passion for your work. It is our goal that your experiences here will lead you to a career that makes you want to bounce out of bed in the morning ready to change the world.

Find your passion. Protect it. Nurture it. Wherever your individual path leads you, be passionate.

But passion must be coupled to purpose. Your purpose, as alumni of UNB, should be to take that corner of the world in which you find yourself and make it better.

There will be obstacles. You will make mistakes. Be persistent and believe in yourself. Refuse to take no for an answer. Pave the way for those who follow you just as our alumni have paved the way for you.

Take pride in everything that you do, and ensure that all you do is worthy of that pride. Never underestimate the power you have as an individual to make a difference. Be proudly UNB.

Passion, purpose, persistence, pride: these are the building blocks of success in everything you do.

Each one of you chose UNB for a reason. I hope we have met your expectations. If we did, please go home and tell all of your friends and family. If we did not, talk to me and I’ll try to have it fixed. Your degree from UNB IS important and special.

A global economic recession is upon us, yet our friends continue to make supporting UNB a priority. In addition to remarkable recent gifts from individuals like Eldon and Maxine Clair of Florenceville, Violet Woodroffe of Saint John, Warren McKenzie and Julia MacLauchlan of Seattle and Dave and Wendy Betts of Calgary, we have also witnessed tremendous support from three levels of government, including more than $59 million from our provincial government for capital projects alone.

Their support has enabled:

•Our partnership with Dalhousie University to offer a medical education program in Saint John;
•Our partnership with the New Brunswick Community College;
•The refurbishment of the Canada Games Stadium in Saint John, and;
•The construction of the University Commons in Saint John.

As well we have the landmark Richard J. CURRIE CENTER in Fredericton, which has also been made possible through the great generosity of our Chancellor.

What an impressive list! To our donors and friends, many of whom are here today, I say thank you for putting our students first.

UNB is attracting talented and energetic new individuals and groups to join us in building a self-sufficient New Brunswick. Our recruitment activities bring hundreds of new students into the province every year all of whom are potential residents, investors and advocates.

The focus we are demonstrating with regard to a renewed and vigorous research agenda is creating new opportunities within our province.

We are fortunate to have the working relationship we do with our student government and governments. In addition to the support for the capital projects referenced earlier, we have seen much increased support for our students, for deferred maintenance, and for the community colleges. There is significant new targeted funding towards the goals set out in the province’s post-secondary action plan. Each of these initiatives involves many millions of dollars and each is deserving of our gratitude.

There is one important area where continuing investment is needed and that is our operating grant. Our provincial government’s bold vision is to build the best post-secondary system in the country. We have had strong support from our Premier and Minister to date and I know that will continue.

I want to speak to you for a few minutes about the role of universities in our society. I’ve heard many people describe this in various ways and the approach I will take with you here today I first heard from Mike Lazaridis, the co-founder of RIM, maker of blackberries.

One hundred years ago, three key problems confronted the business leaders of New York City, then the fastest growing economy in the world. There were too few carriages and horses to maintain business growth and the horses they did have produced too much manure. Their best minds were devoted to opening these bottlenecks. They succeeded, but not in the expected ways: the car and truck came along.

In the meantime, however, the best minds in other fields, Albert Einstein for example, were considering fundamental questions about the structure of the universe. And researchers in the areas of the humanities and the social sciences were considering deep questions about our inner life as humans and the complex ways in which we interact. These bright minds, working on abstract problems with no immediately apparent applications, laid the foundations for our 21st century economy and our modern and increasingly tolerant society.

The fundamental work that we do today in our university in understanding the world around us and the world within us will build better worlds tomorrow, even though the relevance of that work may not yet be clear. We are solving the problems of tomorrow.

Of course, we also encourage our faculty, staff and students to solve the problems of today. We are devoting more resources to these efforts. We hold ourselves accountable to our communities and our societies. We want our university to be responsive to the needs of the society around us.

In order to guide and focus our work over the next 5 years we are developing a new strategic plan. This is a timely effort as we approach our 225th anniversary in 2010.

The strategic plan will focus on four areas, the first and most important of which concerns our students, because students come first at UNB.

Our plan will take the better part of a year to finalize. Many voices will be heard, inside and outside the university, to help us better understand our role in a changing New Brunswick and a changing world.

My own role in the development of this plan is mostly to listen, but there are a few issues of importance that I want us to consider. The first two are simple. I want us to do more to care for each other and the communities around us, and I want us to demand the best from each other.

If we succeed, then the rest of what we want to accomplish – taking our rightful place among the best universities, helping to build a greater province, a better country, a better world - will take care of itself.

You are going to hear me refer to entrepreneurship many times in the coming years. I want to be clear about what I believe this word to mean for us.

For me, entrepreneurs are those who create opportunities for themselves and for others, whether through business as the word is commonly understood, or through politics, social activism or any other of a myriad of worthwhile pursuits.

Each of our students has entrepreneurship potential and must be supported to develop those skills. My question for all of us is this: do we want to this to be a distinguishing feature of UNB?

I also want our university to consider ways and means to better respond to the needs of the communities around us.

As each of us enters a new chapter in our lives, as a new graduate or new president, we share the support of people who have touched us in special ways. In my case, my family has always been there for me. I cannot thank them enough, especially my darling wife Diane.

There are also three members of my family who cannot be with us here today to celebrate and I want to acknowledge the impact they had on me and how much they mean to me. They are my sister Darya who died at age 36 from breast cancer, my father, Jim, and my father-in-law Harold.

I miss them each and every day but I am comforted by the words I first heard when Diane’s grandmother died: “they live on in hearts that remember”. Those simple words have deep meaning for me and I will remember each of them in my heart.

All of us have special people who have helped us along the way. Remember them and celebrate them whenever you can. Never forget the people, the traditions, and the heritage that have influenced who you are today and who you will be tomorrow.

I want to acknowledge the extraordinary welcome we have had from the folks here in New Brunswick. Even before taking on this position as the 18th president of the University of New Brunswick, I had the honour of being introduced to the province by Premier Graham and Minister Arsenault on the floor of the provincial legislature. Boy, that was a great moment. Should the same opportunity come your way in the future, my friends, my advice to you is to do as I did, and show up accompanied by a national championship hockey team. That’s a fabulous way to make a great first impression.

All of these reasons have convinced us that we have made a great decision in moving here. Here is another. Those who knew Alison Webb, a fabulous student and former associate secretary of the university, gathered recently at a service in her memory. One of her professors in our department of political science, Thom Workman, spoke movingly of her as a truth-seeker, a person deeply motivated by a sense of intellectual curiosity, and a desire to challenge herself to grow and to learn.

He reminded us that a university is far more than a “job factory”, rather it is a place where we seek to understand ourselves and the world around us, a place where we aspire to change the world for the better.

The list of recent accomplishments at our university is impressive. Our research income growth is among the best in the country, we currently sit at 5th in the Maclean’s ranking, our fund-raising efforts lead Atlantic Canada, we have built exciting new programs and reached out to our partners in new ways. We have support from all three levels of government and sound arguments for increased support in order to achieve first-order goals for the people of the province. Our job is to consolidate those gains and to continue this amazing record of success. Even in these early days, I have found that the people of this university are determined to see us succeed.

By any account, this is a great place to be.

I began this speech talking to our graduates of 2009 and I would like to close by relaying what I hope will prove to be sound advice. When I first started to coach my children in hockey and soccer, I formulated two goals for them and their teammates: work hard and have fun. Over the years I came to realize that more was needed from them. Each of them had to try to make a difference to their team: making the pass that led to a goal; making the play that saved a goal; or scoring a goal. And so I asked each member of each team to do just that: work hard, have fun, make a difference.

I also came to realize that what I was asking of my children and their teammates applied equally well to me. So I will be working hard, having fun and doing my best to make a difference to UNB as its 18th President. I hope for the same of all of you in your roles as supporters and friends of New Brunswick and its university.

(UA Case 69, Box 3)

Addresses may be reproduced for research purposes only. Publication in whole or in part requires written permission from the author.