There are still two very busy months left in Tom Traves’s tenure as Dalhousie’s president and vice-chancellor. But last Thursday night marked the first of what will doubtlessly be many “farewell” moments for him as the Cunard Centre played host to a dinner in his honour.
Close to 700 guests, ranging from family and friends to members of the Dal and Halifax communities, turned out to celebrate not just Dr. Traves, but Dal’s accomplishments during his time as president: in academic programs, research, the student experience, campus growth, reputation, donations and countless other areas.
“Tom is a builder, one of the greatest in Dal’s history — not just in buildings and endowments, but in people,” said King’s President George Cooper, who spoke at the event.
Tom Boran, dean of the Faculty of Dentistry, served as the evening’s master of ceremonies, and the event included several video tributes: some highlighting Dal over the past two decades, and others featuring faculty, staff, students, alumni and community leaders sharing memories of working with Dr. Traves.
“You’ve positioned us to have a local impact and global connection,” said Martha Crago, vice-president research.
“[Yours] is a legacy that will not become a thing of the past, but one that will create the future. You may be leaving your desk at Dalhousie, but what you have built will survive beyond all of us here tonight and will continue on to generations of the Dalhousie community and worldwide community that will be here long into the future.”
Other highlights from the event included a live painting by local performance artist Holly Carr, an exit proceeding led by cadets and a Loyal Toast from Lieutenant Governor J.J. Grant. Jim Spatz, chair of Dal’s Board of Governors, announced the Tom Traves Fund at Dalhousie, a $1-million endowment established by the Board, Senate and key donors that will let Dr. Traves allocate funds to key Dal projects of his choosing.
Dr. Traves, taking the stage to a standing ovation at night’s end, quoted former U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter on the privilege of having the opportunity to do “the best useful work there was in me.” Dr. Traves also echoed Dr. Cooper in saying that when he reflects back on his time at Dal, it’s the people that he’s most proud of.
“If you judge me by only one measure of success, please make it the quality and performance of the faculty and staff we hired during my era,” he said. “With several thousand new people joining our ranks, the old Dalhousie became a new institution. Our faculty and staff represent the beating heart of Dalhousie, and their great work boosts our reputation higher and higher each year."
All photos by Danny Abriel.
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