© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Dr. Don MacDougall, centre, new chancellor of UPEI, receives his robes of office from UPEI president Dr. Alaa Abd-El-Aziz, left and William Andrew, outgoing chancellor. MacDougall was installed during a ceremony Sunday. Far left is Lt. Gov. Frank Lewis.
It was approximately 50 years when Don McDougall and his future wife Marion met as classmates at St. Dunstan’s University, one of the two institutions that would eventually form the University of Prince Edward Island.
On this past weekend, the two were celebrating McDougall’s installation as the eighth chancellor of UPEI during a ceremony at McMillan Hall.
And one of McDougall’s first actions as chancellor was to thank Marion.
“There is no one who has had a more positive influence on me over the past 50 plus years,” said McDougall, who also acknowledged a number of his other influences through those five decades. “Its times like these we are motivated to look back at all the good fortune with which we have been blessed... We know and you know we did not get here on our own. The debt of gratitude which we owe to so many is humbling indeed.”
It appeared the university hit a home run with the installation of the new chancellor.
MacDougall, a well-known businessman and sportsman from Bloomfield P.E.I., attended both St. Dunstan’s High School and University.
While he had spent six years at the school, Marion had also attended both SDU and Prince of Wales College, which merged together in 1969 to form UPEI.
“My point is that in our home we have a very good appreciation of the roots from which this fine institution has matured,” said MacDougall during his address. “Education is not only no burden to carry around, it is also the foundation on which civilized society is built. It is the engine which drives societal progress and sustainability.”
McDougall had also taught high school in Summerside before later moving to London, Ont. to complete his Master of Business Administration Degree at the University of Western Ontario.
He is a past chairman of the UWO board of governor’s and also received an honorary doctorate degree from UPEI in 1978.
Tom Cullen, chairman of UPEI’s board of governors, described McDougall as a distinguished Islander, outstanding business leader and generous supporter of the community.
“Dr. McDougall has many fine qualities which are particularly suited to his role as chancellor. He personifies our university tagline, ‘people excellence and impact’.”
Cullen also described McDougall’s successful business career, which ranged from being president of Labatt Breweries to having his own aerospace company Novatronics of Canada Inc., which he grew for 20 years before selling.
McDougall had also left his mark on Summerside, after the federal government recruited him to transition the old air base into a private sector development.
The successful initiative was the start of Summerside’s aerospace industry, which today employs more than 1,000 people.
“The transformation of CFB Summerside is recognized by the federal government as the most successful transitioning of a military base in Canada,” said Cullen. “It is a model which inspires similar military base transformations across Canada and North America.”
McDougall is also well-known in sports circles.
He was instrumental in bringing a Major League Baseball team to Toronto and, because of that achievement, was elected Canada’s baseball man of the year in 1976 and later inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
UPEI president and vice-chancellor Dr. Alaa Abd-El-Aziz said McDougall’s installation was opportunity to honour the past as well as welcome the future as he thanked outgoing chancellor William E. “Bill” Andrew for his dedication and passion in the role from 2005-2013.
He also described the McDougalls as both being tremendous contributors to UPEI already, with the Don and Marion McDougall Hall having been named in the couple’s honour in 2008.
“Today we install a new chancellor who is experienced at being a champion of big ideas and I am pleased that he will be able to provide insight and leadership as we continue to design our future.”
The McDougalls reside in Stratford, Ont. and Ebbsfleet, near Miminegash, P.E.I.