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End of an era

Professor emeritus Shane O’Dea retires as public orator

Campus and Community

By Meaghan Whelan

Shane O’Dea, longtime professor of English, professor emeritus and public orator has retired from his oratorical duties for Memorial University.

Prof. O’Dea began as a university orator in 1982 and became deputy public orator in 1992. In 1995 he was appointed public orator, the leadership role to which he was subsequently reappointed for a remarkable total of 23 years.

Over that stretch of time he has delivered dozens of orations, as well as overseeing the development of countless other orations — and orators.

“Shane . . . never forgot that the public orator is Memorial University’s advocate for honour, justice, truth and excellence in life.” —Dr. Annette Staveley

“For more than three decades, Shane never failed to deliver,” said President Gary Kachanoski.

“He is a true wordsmith with a flair for oratory. On behalf of the entire Memorial community, I offer my sincere thanks to Shane for his many years of contributions to successful convocations.”

In his remarks at an event to honour his retirement, Prof. O’Dea spoke with appreciation about his time at Memorial.

Dr. Kachanoski presents Prof. O'Dea with a framed Senate resolution recognizing his service.
Dr. Kachanoski presents Prof. O’Dea with a framed Senate resolution recognizing his service.
Photo: Dennis Flynn

“This university, now approaching its centenary, is a place of pride for all of us,” he said.

“We know this best from our graduates who, when they pursue higher studies in other universities, are pleased to discover that they are very well-prepared, often more learned than many of their contemporaries from elsewhere. This is the product of an institution that sets and fosters high standards in all that it does, that has put down roots in its own soil and from that has brought forth some quite remarkable scholarship.”

Prof. O’Dea acknowledged the “remarkable cadre of staff who are the foundation of Memorial” and his regard for the team of orators he has worked with “who have produced inventive, outrageous, musical and mad orations that have made a major contribution to the distinctiveness of our convocation.”

Jennifer Lokash, Shane O'Dea and Annette Staveley.
A trio of orators: Jennifer Lokash, Shane O’Dea and Annette Staveley.
Photo: Dennis Flynn

Dr. Annette Staveley, deputy public orator, kept up the tradition with a creative and commemorative mock oration, saying in part:

“Shane has maintained vigorously the long tradition of public oratory at Memorial University . . . With his Newfoundland “ugly stick” Shane poked fun at the follies of the great and the good but never forgot that the public orator is Memorial University’s advocate for honour, justice, truth and excellence in life.”

Memorial’s Senate acknowledged Prof. O’Dea’s contribution with a special resolution of appreciation that noted the many eloquent and memorable orations he delivered during his time as public and deputy public orator.

He was also recognized for his recruitment and mentorship of numerous university orators.

Dr. Jennifer Lokash, associate professor, Department of English, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, and university orator, has been appointed by the Senate as Memorial’s third public orator, effective immediately.

The role of public orator at Memorial was first held by the late Dr. George M. Story from 1959-94. The position of public orator is a voluntary one that carries with it no office, stipend or staff.


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