It isn’t often that an Opinions Editor sits down to pen a positive letter about a figure of influence. At the same time, I find it wholly fitting and necessary to express these words of support to the president of our university, Ray Ivany. Many of you may have met him in your first week here on the lawns behind University Hall, or have seen him speaking on stage at the Matriculation Ceremony – I know because I was one of those students. I remember the first thing I noticed about him: his firm handshake, his welcoming smile. He was polite and cordial – it never once seemed like he was forced to be there, shaking the sweaty hands of hundreds of teen-aged undergraduates. It must have been awful. But in fact, he appeared to be enjoying himself.
I was actually lucky to talk to him after that, during one of my labs in second year. My professor decided it would be a good idea to email the entire student body of Acadia urging them to come and listen to us describe our lacklustre final projects. A few professors from other science departments showed up, a few friends here and there, and then surprisingly, the president of Acadia University walked through the door. He moved from station to station, finally coming to me, and after listening to my presentation with a keen interest as I fumbled along and minced my words and stuttered with incoherence, I talked to him briefly about my summer research, he shook my hand and then continued on his way. He visited every student in the room. And when he left, he raised his hand and said good-bye, and everyone else in the room stopped talking and turned and waved good-bye back, like a group of comrades bidding farewell to their commander-in-chief.
I recount this tale because I find it odd that I remember it so well. Over my tenure here at Acadia, I have heard many stories of presidents past, from professors and archival librarians alike. And while they are not stories of disdian, they never quite speak of Ivany in the same regard, and it is my perception that many people hold some sort of agreed-upon respect for Ivany. In fact, why shouldn’t we? It was our president who helped transform the face of community colleges in Nova Scotia, it was our president who urged Nova Scotians to take control of their future, and it was our president who was named 2015 Person of the Year by the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. I believe that it is something to be proud about when the president of our school takes an active role in the public well-being of the province. I hope that we will continue to see his good work for years to come. It is this editor’s opinion that as Nova Scotians – as Canadians, we deserve no less. So on behalf of the Athenaeum staff and the entire student body of Acadia University: I wish for the speedy recovery and continued health of our president, Ray Ivany.