U of G’s 50th Anniversary Ceremony

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U of G’s 50th Anniversary Ceremony

Lincoln Alexander given own day and a new president introduced


Former University of Guelph President Bill Winegard (left) applauds alongside U of G 1964 alumni Dennis and Pat Mighton (centre) at the university’s 50th anniversary kick-off celebration. Photo by Wendy Shepherd.

The University of Guelph marked the beginning of its yearlong 50th anniversary celebrations on Tuesday Jan. 21 with a ceremony in the University Center that included the inauguration of Lincoln Alexander Day and the surprise introduction of the U of G’s newly appointed eighth president and vice-chancellor, Franco Vaccarino.

The ceremony began with speeches from President Alastair Summerlee and Provost and Vice-President Maureen Mancuso. The audience was then shown a film showcasing the legacy of the school. Former U of G President Bill Winegard, who appeared in the film, praised the school for its many achievements over the past 50 years.

“You don’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been, and this university knows where it’s been,” said Winegard, indicating the theme of the day.

The occasion, moreover, served to mark Jan. 21 as Lincoln Alexander Day at the University of Guelph. The late Honourable Lincoln Alexander was the University of Guelph’s longest serving chancellor, who held the position for 15 years. With the advent of this honorary day, the U of G paid homage to Alexander’s long and successful career as well as his courage and determination in the face of racism. Alexander became Canada’s first black Member of Parliament after serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force, and later became the first black Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.

“If Lincoln was here, he would have shaken every one of your hands today,” said President Summerlee.

That evening, a documentary titled A Linc in Time: The Lincoln Alexander Story was shown in Rozanski Hall. The documentary focused mainly on Alexander’s personal story as a strong-willed man who valued education. “My father taught me service; my mother taught me the value of education,” said Alexander in the film.

The second – or perhaps third – exceptional moment arrived with the surprise introduction of the U of G’s newly appointed president, Franco Vaccarino. On stage, Vaccarino offered some words to mark the occasion:

“The 50th anniversary is about looking towards a bright and vibrant future while also celebrating the great achievements of the past. From the three founding legacy organizations, to the world-renowned comprehensive university that the University of Guelph has become today, there is so much to celebrate and I am thrilled and honoured to be a part of it.”

But the new president was not the only one to heap praise on the school that day. Students who attended the ceremony tended to react with similarly optimistic words for the future.

“This school makes each student feel like they are a part of a community,” said Gaby Nichols, an undergraduate student. “And that is something I know the school will continue to make a priority during these next 50 years.”