Memorial University installed Earl Ludlow as chancellor during fall convocation ceremonies on Oct. 20.
Mr. Ludlow, a Memorial alumnus (B.Eng.’80, MBA’90), addressed the assembled graduates and guests during the 10 a.m. session.
The former Board of Regents member (2002–08), the 2008 recipient of Memorial’s Alumni Tribute Award for Community Service and now Memorial’s eighth chancellor took the opportunity to share some insight he has gleaned from his career and volunteer work with Memorial’s newest alumni.
After a bit of a bumpy post-secondary start, he says his Memorial education is the foundation he built his home on.
You can find Chancellor Ludlow’s address to the fall graduates below.
Chancellor Ludlow’s full convocation address
“I’ve never been one for robes and formalities, but this is pretty amazing.
“When I was in term seven of my engineering degree, I threw all my books in the garbage. I had just completed the midterms with a 47 per cent average. To say I was discouraged would be an understatement, and I figured my time in the program was over. My mother and father fished the books out of the garbage and advised me to sleep on it and they would support my decision. It’s a good thing they did. It turns out everyone else was stuck at 35 per cent! The rest is history.
“So, I learned a life lesson that term. Make sure you really want to throw out what you’re putting in the garbage. Just kidding: the lesson is — don’t give up. Things are not always as bad as they seem.
“I am thankful for the privilege of learning … there are so many in the world who are denied this opportunity.”
“I finished my engineering degree and have been fortunate enough to have had a great career. I worked hard and was determined (some might say stubborn) along the way. I’ve worked in many countries and most Canadian provinces and experienced amazing things. That’s what a good education can do — give you the opportunity to lead a great life.
“I am thankful for the privilege of learning. It’s probably not something you have thought about much, but there are so many in the world who are denied this opportunity. For many years, you had to go to school. Then you made the choice to continue your education by attending university, for some by remaining for graduate and doctoral degrees.
“I was born and spent my early childhood in Joe Batt’s Arm on Fogo Island N.L., my two older brothers and I all did well at university (for me, after term seven). And Memorial has been good to my family ever since: my wife, Valerie, daughters Meaghan, Julia and Kaitlin, and my two brothers, Dr. Wayne and Dr. Keith, and sisters-in-law, Mary Kaye and Anita, are all Memorial alumni. My parents, Arthur and Winnifred, were also directly associated with Memorial — Dad at Queen’s College and Mom at the Faculty of Education library.
“The foundation we all achieved is thanks to Memorial, and as any builder will tell you, if you start with a strong foundation, upon that you can build your strong home.
“So, let me share a few lessons I’ve learned as I built that home.
“Number one. Be kind. It’s a simple lesson and it’s so much easier to be kind than unkind. And it makes you feel better. Have you ever given directions to a tourist? Or dropped off coffee to a friend pulling an all-nighter? You feel just a little bit better after. For several years, I mentored graduate international engineering students — I learned more from that experience — customs, foods.
“Regardless of occupation or social status … treat people with respect.”
“But more than that, think like Albert Einstein who famously said, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” At the risk of a double-negative, never do nothing.
“Number two. Be open and honest. Life is just too complicated to be dishonest. And like being unkind, you really don’t get any enjoyment out of it.
“Number three. Be respectful of others. It’s a big, beautiful world out there, but there will be people who will disagree with you. Regardless of occupation or social status, whether it’s the person who pours your Tim Hortons coffee or the person who takes your blood pressure, treat people with respect.
“Number four. Those different people in that big, beautiful world have a lot to offer. Different life journeys produce different histories, so aim to be inclusive. Welcome others into your circle or your study group or your office. It’s amazing what you can learn from people of different faiths, colours and cultures.
“Number five. Don’t forget where you came from. Whether you’re from Joe Batt’s Arm or Japan, where you come from has formed who you are. Remember the people, like those here today, who have helped you, cheered you on, maybe held your hand in difficult times. I would like to thank my family, specifically my cornerstone — my wife, Valerie, who was unable to attend today, my three daughters Meaghan, Julia and Kaitlin, for all your support and understanding. Also my parents, Arthur and Winnifred — I know you are watching.
“Number six. Always have a care for the safety of others and never forget the importance of people.
“The final lesson. You’re going to make bad decisions. It’s inevitable. If it’s not too bad, it might make for a good story down the road. But there might be horror stories based on your bad decisions. Like Dr. Timmons said, it’s not the number of times you fall, it’s the number of times you pick yourself up.
“So, as you launch forth, as Memorial’s motto states, do it with kindness, respect for others and appreciation for the amazing education you received here at Memorial, and anticipate where it can lead you.
“It’s a changing world and we’re ready to change with it.”
“There are 100,000 alumni, many in leadership positions all over the world. There are alumni in every town and bay of this province. Like the chair of the board said, Memorial is part of the economic, social and cultural fabric of this province. It has educated its doctors and nurses, taught its teachers and cultivated its artists.
“Memorial is the cornerstone of the province in terms of resources, mining, tourism, art — you name it.
“As chancellor, I plan to be there every step of the way in the future to ensure Memorial only gets better. It’s a changing world and we’re ready to change with it. Keep in mind I trained on a slide rule, Fortran computer cards, telex, rotary dial telephones and 8-track tapes. Just think what can happen in the next four decades.
“Graduates, congratulations on your accomplishments. I wish you all the best with whatever tomorrow holds. I look forward to welcoming you into the Memorial alumni family.”