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Former U of G president named University Professor Emeritus

Dr. Alastair Summerlee named University Professor Emeritus, University of GuelphOntario Veterinary College Biomedical Sciences professor and former University of Guelph president Alastair Summerlee was named University Professor Emeritus at the winter Convocation ceremonies on February 20.

An innovative researcher, teacher and world-renowned humanitarian, Summerlee joined U of G and the Biomedical Sciences department in OVC in 1988. He served as associate dean of OVC and as U of G’s dean of graduate studies before going on to become associate vice-president (academic) and provost and vice-president (academic) He was named as U of G’s seventh president in 2003, the same year he was named Canada’s first president elect to win a 3M Teaching Fellowship.

“As UofG’s longest serving president he led the most successful capital campaign ever. Prof Summerlee headed provincial groups and initiatives that advanced post-secondary research and teaching and that further strengthened university government relations in Ontario,” noted Tarek Saleh, chair of the Biomedical Sciences department. “His academic excellence and commitment to a better world make him a highly deserving candidate for University Professor Emeritus.”

A fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, Summerlee has authored more than 80 peer-review publications ranging from reproductive endocrinology to global hunger.

Among numerous international humanitarian initiatives, he led the Hunger Solutions Institute and the Kirchner Food Fellowship Program and headed international development projects to improve health and education in Africa.

Summerlee was recognized as an honourary alumnus of OVC during the College’s 150th anniversary celebrations in 2012, acknowledging his many contributions to the veterinary profession, to the College and its students, staff and faculty, as well as his commitment to the University of Guelph.

“Learn to seize the moment and don’t hesitate,” Summerlee advised during his Convocation address to graduates. “You never know what waits around the corner and you never will, if you hesitate.” 

He also urged graduates to embrace boundless imagination, not only because is the fount of all invention and innovation, but at its most transformative “imagination is the power to empathize with other human beings, people whose experiences you have never shared,” he noted.

Before snapping a selfie with the graduates, he wished them every success in their futures.

“I wish you a life that is good, one in which you never hesitate, one in which you experience the highs and lows of making snap decisions, one in which you countdown to change your life and one that is full of boundless imagination and the care for others.”