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‘A great job’

Glenn Blackwood completes 16 years leading the Marine Institute

Campus and Community

By Moira Baird

Glenn Blackwood officially wrapped up 16 years of leadership at the helm of the Marine Institute (MI) when he walked out the doors on Sept. 1.

Glenn Blackwood is wearing a black suit and speaking at a podium in front of an audience. There are multiple microphones on the podium and banners behind him.
Glenn Blackwood during a 2021 announcement.
Photo: Submitted

“This has been a great job and I’ve enjoyed it immensely. I can’t say enough thank-yous to everybody here. This is a special place and I’m going to miss the people,” said Mr. Blackwood, who has served MI as it’s vice-president since 2011.

“At the end of the day, it’s the people who make this place work – not the world-class technology that we’ve been blessed with.”

Throughout the pandemic, he says everyone pulled together to generate revenue and contribute to the institute’s bottom line.

“I am really proud of the way everybody here responded. We did $14 million last year in revenue at a time when I didn’t think that was possible, and that kept us whole.”

Glenn Blackwood is wearing a black suit and standing in front of the Marine Institute campus
Glenn Blackwood in 2005.
Photo: Submitted

Future in the ocean

A self-described bayman from Hare Bay, Bonavista Bay, Mr. Blackwood comes from a family of mariners.

His father travelled shipping routes from Labrador to the Caribbean, many of his uncles worked in marine transportation and his brother is an MI graduate and marine engineer.

Both of his sons are MI graduates, and one continues the family tradition as chief mate with an international shipping company.

“I believe the future of this province is in the ocean and we’re really well positioned to lead that. We can take the expertise we have in maritime education and training, ocean technology, and fisheries management and development – and we can take that to the world.”

Early career

A graduate of Memorial’s B.Sc.(Hons.) in marine biology and master’s in resource management programs, Mr. Blackwood started with the federal Fisheries and Oceans office in 1979 before moving to the provincial fisheries department.

There, he was a technical advisor in the harvesting division, marine biologist and resource planning supervisor. By 1991 he was director of resource analysis and went on to become assistant deputy minister of fisheries.

“We can take the expertise we have and … take that to the world.” — Glenn Blackwood

In 1997 he joined the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation as managing director.

Three years later, he became director of MI’s Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Resources (CSAR). He expanded the centre’s go-to-sea capacity, geographical reach and flume tank testing services to include marine technology.

Glenn Blackwood is wearing a brown suit and sitting in his office. There are two bookshelves behind him.
Glenn Blackwood was appointed vice-president, Memorial University (Marine Institute) in 2011.
Photo: Submitted

MI leadership

Mr. Blackwood’s collaboration with industry and an ability to attract public- and private-sector funding at CSAR served him well in his next job.

He was appointed MI executive director in 2005, and appointed vice-president of Memorial University (Marine Institute) in 2011 for the first of two terms.

During that time, the institute created the School of Ocean Technology, the Centre for Applied Ocean Technology, The Journal of Ocean Technology, the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research, seven master’s programs and two PhD programs.

As well, MI built the Hibernia anchor handling simulator, established several research chairs, including its first Canada Research Chair in 2018, and developed the Holyrood marine base.

The Holyrood marine base construction site is shown with multiple cranes. There are three boats near the wharf in front of the building.
Construction of the new Holyrood marine base building in August 2021.
Photo: Submitted

“The Holyrood marine base is nearing completion – I’m quite proud of that,” he said.

“I believe this specialized access to the ocean will transform the way our students, researchers, clients and industry partners will interact with the ocean. Everyone at the Marine Institute is responsible for its growth and success during my time here.”

Global leadership

Mr. Blackwood also represented MI on national and international stages.

He has twice been elected chair of the International Association of Maritime Universities, representing 65 maritime universities worldwide. He’s the first Canadian to do so.

An executive board member of the World Maritime University since 2014, he is also a fellow and governor of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. He will continue in these roles until his appointments end.

He is in the process of wrapping up board appointments to Canada’s Ocean Supercluster and the Ocean Frontier Institute.

New leadership

Dr. Rob Shea, associate vice-president (academic and student affairs), MI, will serve as vice-president, Memorial University (Marine Institute), pro tempore, effective Sept. 2, 2021, until a search committee completes its work and a new vice-president is appointed.

Dr. Angie Clarke, director of academic and student affairs, MI, will serve as associate vice-president (academic and student affairs), pro tempore, effective Sept. 2 until Aug. 31, 2022, or when Dr. Shea returns to his permanent position.

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