Calkin, Joy

Degree conferred: Doctor of Science (D.Sc.)

Orator: Patterson, Stephen E.

to be Doctor of Science

Joy Calkin is a nurse and health systems management specialist who is, today, at the pinnacle of her career. Since 1990, she has been Vice-President (Academic) at the University of Calgary where she has also held the rank of Professor in the Faculty of Nursing. In August she will take up a new job; she will leave Calgary to become President and Chief Executive Officer of Extendicare, Canada's largest provider of home health care.

But what makes it especially appropriate for us to honour her today is that she is a Maritimer who began her career as a teacher of nursing at the University of New Brunswick. A native of Kentville, Nova Scotia, she came here in the fall of 1963 with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Toronto, a bit of experience as a clinical nurse, and the worldly wisdom she gleaned from -an extended tour of Europe. Not much older than most of the students here, she moved into the newly opened women's residence, Lady Dunn Hall, as third-floor proctor. The girls, I am told, were a rambunctious group of phys ed and nursing students. Joy Calkin fit right in. With her love of athletics and pop music, she was soon welcomed at pizza parties and became the much-in-demand song leader among a musical crowd.

It was in nursing that she began to leave her mark. Working closely with Dean Katherine MacLaggan, whose vision it was to transform nursing education in New Brunswick, Joy Calkin developed her interest in pediatrics and in 1966 she received an outstanding teaching award. At the same time, she helped set up the first health care services for students at UNB, began discussion groups among adolescent drug users in Fredericton, and advised mothers of mentally handicapped children. Working jointly with the Bio-Engineering Institute here at UNB, she undertook research into the application of myoelectric control devices in the care of Thalidomide children. And with this rich experience and a thousand questions, she decided to build for the future with a master's degree in pediatric nursing. She did this in a year at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and while she returned to UNB to teach for two more years, it was Wisconsin that won out in the end.

The academic profession creates links among the world's universities that are as complex as airline connections. For several of us at UNB, the connection is with the University of Wisconsin, one of the great universities of the United States. A notable example is Professor Emerita Mary Ella Milham, whose 75th birthday we recently celebrated. In Madison, Joy Calkin found herself gravitating towards new questions such as the best utilization of nursing graduates and other issues in health services administration. Perhaps influenced by her earlier association with Katherine MacLaggan, she became interested in the bigger picture of nursing education, the role of nurses in administration, and the future of the profession itself. She spent fourteen years in Madison: teaching, completing her doctorate in health services administration, advancing within the professoriat of the School of Nursing, doing research on improving nursing services, and serving on dozens of university and state boards and committees in the search for better solutions in health care. On three occasions, she was honoured as outstanding faculty member or outstanding teacher.

When she returned to Canada she could write her own ticket. She became Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Calgary in 1985, and since then has risen to the rank of Vice-President (Academic). When she moves on to Extendicare this summer, she will do so as one of Canada's leading health care professionals. Her 24-page curriculum vitae lists an almost unbelievable array of conference papers, speeches, published reports and papers, the mark of a prolific scholar and a person of outstanding achievement.

After a 37-year career, most people would be thinking of retirement. Yet here is Joy Calkin starting a new job. Clearly she is a woman who seeks challenges. Perhaps more to the point she is, as one of her friends points out, a charming and persuasive person who can smooth troubled waters, pull people together, and get the job done. With skills such as these, she will always be in demand. UNB is honored to have shared in Joy Calkin's accomplished career in nursing. And it is our privilege today to welcome her to the circle of UNB graduates.

From: Honoris Causa - UA Case 70, Box 3

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