UBC Publications

UBC Publications

UBC Publications

The Ubyssey Nov 27, 1961

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Vancouver, B.C., Monday, November 27,  1961
-No. 30
announces  retirement
quits July 1
Successor's appointment
set  for  Tuesday  night
University president Dr. Norman MacKenzie, 67, one of
the most distinguished educators in Canada, this morning announced he will retire next July 1.
His retirement will mark the end of a brilliant career first
as international lawyer and later professor and university
It is expected that a successor 'J	
to the president will be appointed Tuesday night at the same
board of governors' meeting at
which the name of the new chancellor will be announced.
Even before the official announcement was made, tributes
from other university officials
and dignitaries arOund the world
began pouring into the president's office.
In them, Dr. MacKenzie was
praised for his dynamic leadership during a period of unparalleled growth in the university's
Said Col. J. F. McLean, director of UBC personnel and
student services: "The ex-service
students, the students away from
home, the students with special
responsibilities because of student office, the students in difficulty, the students of great potential, but also the ordinary
students, the ones who have not
distinguished themselves in any
way have always been his great
and abiding interest."
'George Cunningham, acting
chairman of the board of governors said: "I should like to pay
ipy personal tribute to Dr. MacKenzie for the distinguished
service he has given to the university and the province since
be came to British Columbia.
"I have said before, an(j i repeat now, that the president of
the university holds the most
important position in British Columbia because he is building
so much for the future. Tiie impact of the young pepole who
have graduated during Dr. Mac-
Kenzie's term has been felt in
British Columbia already, and
in Canada generally, and will
be increasingly evident in the
years ahead."
"Our prestige among universities of the world reflects great
credit on Dr. MacKenzie who is
responsible for our eminence.
The fact that the university is
admired and respected at home
too was proved beyond doubt
during our $10 million Development Fund campaign when citizens in all walks of life and in
all parts of the province rallied
to our support.
"We owe Dr. MacKenzie a debt
we can never repay."
,At a special press conference
this morning, Dr. MacKenzie
said he will inform the board of
governors of his decision Tuesday night.
"I da this with a great deal of
regret for I am proud of the university and of those associated
with it," he said.
"My 18 years with theUniver-
sity of British Columbia have
been without exception good
years, and I count myself among
the most fortunate and privileged of men to have been associated with it during this exciting
In his official announcement,.
addressed to faculty, administration, staff and students, he said:
"In most respects I feel just
as young and fit as I ever did,
and "naturally" a great deal
wiser. It is a far cry from my
undergraduate days and my
earlier experiences and recollections. In the meantime the world
has changed almost beyond recognition. While human nature remains fundamentally the same,
it may be that a younger man
who will be chosen to succeed me
will be closer to the experience
of the student body and to most
of the teaching and research staff
than I am."
"I came to a young and good
university of three faculties arid
2,400 full-time winter session
students. It is now a large complex institution and one which,
See Over
Authorized as second class mail by the Post Office Department,
Ottawa, and for payment of postage in cash.
Published three times weekly throughout the University year In
Vancouver by the Alma Mater Society, University of B.C, Editorial
-opinions expressed are those of the Editor of The Ubyssey and not
necessarily  those  of the Alma Mater Society or the University  of  B.O.
Edilor-in-Chief: Roger McAfee
Fred Fletcher, Keith Bradbury, Mike Hunter, Ann
Pickard, Denis Stanley, Chris Fahrni, Joy Holding.
tor UBCs
finally happens
soft-spoken leader
End of an era
Dr. Norman MacKenzie is a brilliant scholar and
educator. .
But he treats everyone as his equal. This is the key
to an understanding of the man. .
Dr. MacKenzie exhibits no false pride; no exaggerated
sense of dignity. He is a human being who believes people
should act like human beings and that one is not elevate4
above another by mere position.
The president infused this spirit into UBC during his
18 years as its administrative head. It is not inaccurate
to call this university "his university."
He has built it and in its core of attitudes it reflects
When this writer first came into contact with Dr.
MacKenzie in October, 1959, he was immediately impressed by the president's co-operativeness and geniality.
A picture from fall congregation failed to turn out
and we had to visit his office to get another.
When we told him we needed pictures for the next
day's edition, he smiled and asked if we had been at the
congregation earlier that afternoon, but noticing our qon-
fused embarrassment, the smile became a chuckle and
Dr. MacKenzie deftly steered the conversation onto another topic.
When the equipment was finally in position, he noticed
our apprehensive glance at the pile of papers on his desk,
and, with a single sweep of his arm, cletered the clutter to
one side. •
Just as, we were about to snap the shutter, he quietly
asked if it would not be a good idea to remove the lens
cap first. '•
He submitted to pose after pose, all the while carrying
on a genial conversation designed to set us at our ease.
He showed no contempt for our lack of experience and
went so far as to suggest poses himself.
He gave no orders and showed no impatience.
In the years since that first meeting, it has become
apparent that he treats everyone he deals with in this
gentlemanly manner.
He advises students in the carrying out of their responsibilities. He suggests courses of action. There are no
imperious commands and there is no hint of any mailed
list inside his velvet glove.
Dr.'MacKenzie is a man who believes that universities
exist for students. He believes that students, therefore,
should accept a large measure of responsibility for their
own affairs.
It is largely through his efforts that the student body,
enjoys the freedom and responsibility it has today.
And this has not been achieved without opposition
both inside and,outside the university community.
In his dealings with student officials President MacKenzie has always exhibited tact, fairness and honesty.
He treated the many delegations that visited his office with
a respect tihat has always won the admiration of members.
He never "talked down" to his students.
Dr. MacKenzie advocated student responsibility and
lived by that creed himself, even though it must have
caused him many uneasy moments; for he realized that
with the freedom would also come the mistakes and bad
judgment that would at times arouse the wrath, of many
in the community. He was always prepared to bear the
brunt of the attack, for he realized that through these
mistakes the students gained maturity, understanding, and
wisdom. " ,
Norman MacKenzie was a president who had faith
in his students. And of his' many qualities of greatness
it is for this that students will remember him most. '
No matter how able his successor, Dr. MacKenzie will
be sorely missed.
from page one     MacKENZIE RETIRES
I believe, ranks with the best
in Canada—indeed throughout
the world. Credit for this
growth and these achievements
should go to students and staff
alike, and to our many friends
and alumni across the country
and around the world."
"As you will have gathered,
it is not easy for me to set out
all that I would like to say
about my friends and colleagues.
That would require a book. But
I do want to thank you all for
your help in a great adventure
—the building of the University
of British Columbia. May I also
ask for my successor the same
loyalty and devotion, the same
patience and consideration, you
have always given me."
"My years have been busy
ones; they have been exciting
too. In those years, I have found
deep and lasting satisfaction.
It may be that the years ahead
will toe even more difficult because of the "climate" of the
sixties. If that be true, and I
believe it will, the new President will need and deserve even
more from you. Do give it to
him as generously and effective-r
ly as you have given it to me."
For H%. .Norman Archibald
MacRae^ |4acKenzie the inevitable ha§ happened.
The distinguished educator
is retiring at 67, after 18
years aft' the helm of his university — the University of
British Columbia.
Durirag.those years, the soft-
spoken dynamic "president
sparked the spectacular growth that made UBC the third
largest and one of the most
respected universities in Canada.
The announcement was not
typical of the president.
He has never quit before.
He was too busy making a
dream come true.
That dream was a first-
class university for British
Now the dream has come
true and the still-fit president has decided to leave the
"challenge of the sixties" to
a younger man.
* *      *
Born in Pugwash, Nova Scotia, the educator graduated
from high school when he was
barely 15, but lack of funds
delayed his higher education.
He boarded a train full of
striking coal miners, headed
west to Saskatchewan to earn
his fee money.
"Well', I didn't get back for
four years," he said. He joined
up with two older brothers and
"worked with my two hands
at the hardest kind of physical
work you can imagine." He
learned to make butter, cure
meat and handle an axe.
"My brother had the land
and I had the muscles."
He came back with little
money but lots of experience,
and the clothes he stood in. He
managed to get one year of
education at Dalhousie University Jbefore the war broke out.
He headed for France with
the Sixth Canadian Mounted
Rifles.. During his overseas
service'he won the military
medal and bar. By 19i8 he was
the only survivor of his platoon.
* »      * .
When Dr. SiacKenzie returned to Canada he ignored his
parents' advice to become a
doctor or clergyman and entered law at Dalhousie. After
holding numerous jobs he
managed to pay his way
through the next five years,
and in 1913 received the LLB
from Dalhousie. The only
scholarship he ever won was
for thirty dollars and he had
to split it with anotlfer student.
He went on tovHarvard and
in 1924 j earned his Master's
Degree, in law, and then on
to Cambridge for his post
graduate diploma in 1925.
He then started a short legal
career in Europe before coming to the University of Toronto where he was an assistant Professor of International
Law. He moved to New Brunswick in 1940 to become president of the University of New
Brunswick. Four years later
he took the post of President
of the University of British
»      *      *
Since that time his story has
been a series of successes.
These have been attributed to
a quiet capacity for leadership, a fine understanding of
younger people and the ability
to raise money.
The students speak of t h c
golf game MacKenzie played
with Premier John Hart in
1946 at Shaughnessy — Hart
won. MacKenzie walked off
with $5 million for UBC.
What most people don't
know is that MacKenzie never
never mentioned money, and
Premier, Hart Was so surprised
at the end of the game he asked MacKenzie to drop over to
yictoria at his convenience to
talk about university financing.
The president, however, has
never been hesitant about approaching potential sources of
finances. In 1951, he pointed
out  that  under  the British
... . . in full academic robes
North America Act, responsibility for education rests with
the provinces, and vigorously
campaigned for funds.
In, 1954, he declared that if
this country is to remain in the
foremost ranks of progress,
private sources also must provide for more funds for education; ' :
I'll never be satisfied no
matter how much (money) we
have," he said in 1957. "I want
UBC to be the best university
in Canada and one of the great
universities of the World."
In recent mqhths, Dr. MacKenzie has directed his attentions towards the federal as
well as the provincial govern-
Last spring in Ottawa, he
urged the government to "quit
quibbling about who has jurisdiction for education and get
on with the job." "I suggest
that for a few minutes we forget the law and start looking
at the facts . . . regardless of
what the lawyers may draft
and decide," he said.
"Humanity is on the march,
and education is spilling over
boundaries and frontiers everywhere," he said.
Last month in Charlottetown
he said: "Because of the nature of higher education, much
more of the universities' money should and must come from
the government and parliament of Canada."
The lack of sufficient financ
es has been one of the deciding
factors in Dr. MacKenzie's
fight to keep B:C. higher education centralized. In 1957 he
declared himself against the
establishment of secondary
universities or a junior college system in the province.
B.C. needs one good fully
equipped university provided
with adequate funds to properly do its job, he said.
Under the college system
money would be   "dispersed,
, so as to be in a sense wasted,"
with probably second rate results.
Most of the present campus
buildings came as a direct result of Dr. MacKenzie's personal initiative. The president
always managed to procure facilities when the need became
*      *      *
Being men or action, he and
Dr. Gordon Shrum took steps
to get the army huts that festoon the campus when they
were needed to house the flood
of veterans that poured onto
the campus after the war.
They waited until the huts
were securely in place on the
campus before going through
the proper but slow government channels to get permission to take them.
In 1958 in a speech to students he said: "What we have
done is not a patch on what
we are going to do during the
next 10 years."
His 17 years as UBC president have been devoted to expanding the University physically and intellectually. When
he arrived in 1944 there were
2,300 students in three faculties, today there are 13,500
students in 25 faculties.
"If I didn't believe this
work to be the most interesting ' a(nd important in the
world, I would have been off
to another job, long ago," he
When asked in May, 1960
■ about his retirement Drl MacKenzie had this to say: "Professors, like old wine, often
mature and get better with
age. Call me back in about five
years  to ask me  how I feel
»      *      *
Early this year he stated:
"Some day in the nature of
things, I will want to hand
over these responsibilities.
That is natural, proper and inevitable; And when that time
comes I will issue a statement
to that effect."
Since he was appointed president of the University of
New Brunswick in 1940 Dr.
MacKenzie has received 13
honorary degrees. The latest
was an LLD from the Uuniversity of Saskatchewan last
Relaxing in sports jackets
and slacks, the man whom 400
scholars once came from across
Canada to honor as "A Great
Canadian" looks as though
he'd rather talk about fishing
than books.
In 1952 the Men's Fashion
Council of Canada named Dr.
MacKenzie "Canada's B e s,t
Dressed Man' in Educational
Said Dr. MacKenzie: "I'd accept the position if they'd
give the clothes to go with the
title. Someone back there has
a nice sense of humor." Dr.
MacKenzie placed with such
distinguished Canadians as
Maurice Richard and Vincent


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