Dr. John C. Crosbie, Memorial’s fifth and longest serving chancellor, passed away Jan. 9. He was 88 years old.
“On behalf of the entire Memorial community, I extend my sincere condolences to his wife, Jane, and their family,” said President Gary Kachanoski. “Dr. Crosbie’s support and commitment to our university over the years was truly remarkable and as an institution we were made better by his many contributions and advocacy.”
One of the province’s most notable political figures, Dr. Crosbie was first elected to the House of Assembly in 1966, the House of Commons in 1976 and enjoyed a long career in public life until his retirement in 1994 after 28 years of public service.
He practised law as counsel with Cox & Palmer of St. John’s, and received many honours, including officer of the Order of Canada.
In October 1994 John Carnell Crosbie was installed as chancellor of Memorial University, a ceremonial role that he held until 2008.
During his time as chancellor, he was a tireless champion for the advancement of the university. From 1997-99 he served as chair of the Opportunity Fund capital campaign, the goal of which was to raise $25 million; with his strong support, $30 million was raised for scholarships, academic programs and the construction of the University Centre and the Field House.
“Memorial is a very important asset for this province and I’m proud of its impact.”
In 1999 he was awarded an honorary degree by Memorial University in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the university.
In 2012 he received the J.D. Eaton Alumni Tribute Award, which recognizes outstanding volunteer contribution to Memorial University.
Upon receiving the award, Dr. Crosbie said, “This award comes from Memorial, our own local university, the only university in Newfoundland and Labrador. That’s what makes it unique and valuable to me.”
In 2008 he was appointed lieutenant-governor and continued his close relationship with Memorial as official visitor until his appointment concluded in 2013.
Two scholarships at Memorial are awarded in his name and in honour of his commitment to Memorial.
The John and Jane Crosbie Scholarship is the result of an endowment to the university started by Dr. Crosbie in 1996 while he was chancellor and campaign chair.
In 2013 the Crosbie Doctoral Scholarship was created as a permanent testament to Dr. Crosbie’s many contributions to Memorial University. It is awarded annually to a full-time student in the PhD program in philosophy.
Speaking of the future of the university, Dr. Crosbie said, “We should concentrate on having one university in Newfoundland and Labrador so we can lavish all our attention and assets on that university to ensure it is the best institution it can be. I believe we’ve done that. Memorial is a very important asset for this province and I’m proud of its impact.”
Dr. Crosbie studied at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., where he graduated with first class honours in political science and economics. He studied law at Dalhousie Law School, graduating in 1956, and from 1956-57 he undertook postgraduate studies at the Institute for Advanced Legal Studies of the University of London and the London School of Economics. He was called to the Newfoundland bar in 1957.
In 2008 he became chancellor of the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador, honorary chief of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and honorary colonel of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.
In recognition of Dr. Crosbie’s passing, Memorial University’s official flags will be lowered to half-mast during the provincial period of mourning.