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Emeritus honours

Distinguished faculty members recognized

Campus and Community


Four Memorial University professors have been accorded the designation professor emeritus, an honour reserved for highly distinguished faculty members.

Dr. Larry Mathews, Department of English, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences; Dr. Austin Richard (Rick) Cooper, Faculty of Medicine; and Dr. Michael Collins, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, will be recognized at convocation ceremonies in St. John’s on Oct. 19.

Dr. Gerald Pocius, Department of Folklore, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, has also received the designation professor emeritus.

A professor emeritus or emerita is a retired member of the faculty who has served at least 10 years as a regular full-time faculty member and held the rank of professor upon retirement. The prime criterion for nomination is a sustained and superlative record as a scholar, as a teacher or as an academic administrator or any combination of these.

Candidates for the rank of professor emeritus/emerita are nominated by their academic units and, as with candidates for honorary degrees, the nominations are then reviewed by the Senate’s Committee on Honorary Degrees and Ceremonial. The candidates are approved by the university’s Senate and Board of Regents.

Biographies of all four professores emeriti follow below.

Dr. Michael Collins

Dr. Michael Collins was educated at Southampton University, U.K., where he received a B.Sc. (Hons.) in zoology, an M.Sc. in oceanography and a certificate in education, a professional qualification for teachers in the United Kingdom. He has also obtained a B.Ed. and M.Ed. in science education from Memorial University and a PhD in science education from Keele University, U.K. He is a chartered biologist with the Royal Society of Biology, U.K., a hallmark of excellence recognizing those who work in the life sciences at a high level.

Dr. Collins received the Memorial University’s President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1996 and the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Graduate Student Life in 2000. He was also awarded the national 3M Teaching Fellowship in 1998.

From 2001-07 Dr. Collins was Memorial’s associate vice-president (academic). He has also served as acting vice-president (academic) and pro-vice chancellor in both 2004 and 2008, and throughout his career served on many committees, both at Memorial and externally. He has also represented the university at numerous international missions to develop teaching and research partnerships and student recruitment.

A pioneer of computer-based education, in 1995 he developed a web version of Biology 2040, which became the first web course to be offered at Memorial. He has also published a number of books on local natural history, science teaching and his biological research, in addition to many research articles.

Dr. Austin Richard (Rick) Cooper

Born in 1942 in St. John’s, N.L., Dr. Rick Cooper received his early education at St. Bonaventure’s College. He graduated from Memorial University in 1964 with a B.Sc. and from Dalhousie with a doctor of medicine (MD) degree in 1969. He did postgraduate training in pediatrics at Dalhousie University and subsequently trained in pediatric infectious diseases in Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

In January 1974 Dr. Cooper became a geographic full-time faculty member in the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial University and a pediatrician at the Janeway Child Health Centre and was very active academically at Memorial and clinically at the Janeway.

Dr. Cooper became professor and chair of pediatrics in 1996 and was the chair for 12 years. He retired from Memorial in 2011 but continues to practise as a pediatrician at the Janeway.

Forty-three years later, Dr. Cooper still teaches infectious diseases microbiology and general pediatrics. He has also been very active clinically in several areas of pediatrics, including general pediatrics, neonatology, child protection, oncology and child development. For almost 30 years of his career, Dr. Cooper was a visiting pediatrician consultant at the Carbonear General Hospital, providing care to children in rural areas. With his knowledge in child health, combined with decades of practising experience, Dr. Cooper has been, and continues to be, a major influencer and mentor to those around him.

Over many years, Dr. Cooper has volunteered his time in the community with the Family Life Bureau of the Roman Catholic Archdioceses and the Memorial University Botanical Garden. He has been married to his wife, Grace, for more than 48 years and they have five children and eight grandchildren together. He recently published The Janeway: 50 Years of Caring for Children.

Dr. Larry Mathews

Dr. Larry Mathews was a devoted and valued member of Memorial University’s Department of English before retiring in December 2015.

In his 31 years at Memorial, Dr. Mathews published more than 30 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, more than 45 invited review articles and reviews, one novel, one collection of short fiction, one book of poetry, 27 short stories, 39 poems and one edited volume of short fiction.

His prodigious research-creation is surpassed however by the extraordinary impact he has had specifically on the English department’s graduate program and, more generally, on the literary culture of Newfoundland and Labrador.

In his capacity as co-ordinator of the diploma in creative writing, Dr. Mathews has been instrumental in shaping the careers of a number of Newfoundland’s most popular writers, including Lisa Moore, Michael Winter and Jessica Grant, among many others.

Ms. Moore has referred to Dr. Mathews as that mythical “something in the water” that has made contemporary writing from Newfoundland and Labrador so successful on the international stage.

In 2016 he was recognized with the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences Graduate Supervision Award for his work with graduate students. He has mentored more than 25 PhD students, more than 20 master of arts students, seven honours students and countless undergraduates over the course of his illustrious career.

Dr. Gerald Pocius

Originally from the United States, Dr. Gerald Pocius taught in Memorial University’s folklore department from 1977 until he retired in 2016 with the rank of University Research Professor.

A fellow of both the American Folklore Society and of the Royal Society of Canada, Dr. Pocius has been called “English Canada’s leading interpreter of ordinary objects.” He has researched and written on topics as diverse as joke telling, professional wrestling and religious popular prints and has worked on many aspects of Newfoundland folklore and popular culture. With a specialty in material culture, he has published widely on gravestones, cemeteries, textiles, folk art, architecture, furniture and cultural landscapes.

Dr. Pocius has written/edited several award-winning books and more than 70 articles and book chapters. He has served on the editorial boards of numerous prestigious publications including Canadian Folklore Canadien and the Journal of American Folklore.

Beginning in 2002 he worked extensively with UNESCO, the Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador on intangible cultural heritage issues, including drafting UNESCO’s Convention on the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2003.

Dr. Pocius regularly organized an English Cultural Landscape field school program at Memorial’s Harlow Campus and established the department’s graduate field school in research methods in 2012. He was recently honoured with the 2017 Marius-Barbeau Medal by the Folklore Studies Association of Canada for significant contributions to the study of folklore in Canada.

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