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Honorary degree citation - Douglas T. Wright

By: T.S. Sankar, June 1982

Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Douglas Tyndall Wright, distinguished educator, eminent structural engineer and a successful administrator in both university and government sectors, who has been acutely influential in the development of engineering education and research in Canada.

Born in Toronto, Dr. Wright received his early education there, graduating with an engineering degree in 1949 from the University of Toronto. He then obtained his M.S. degree from the University of Illinois and proceeded to complete his Ph.D. in 1954 at Cambridge University as an Athione Fellow at Trinity College. During the next four years Dr. Wright taught engineering at Queen's University in Kingston, from where he joined the faculty of the newly opened University of Waterloo as full professor. He was the first Chairman of Civil Engineering as well as the first Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, and provided exceptional leadership in the phenomenal development of the Faculty and the University in the Sixties. He initiated the novel co operative programme and made Waterloo University the largest engineering school in Canada by 1964.

In 1967, Dr. Wright was appointed the first full-time Chairman of the Ontario Committee on University Affairs, responsible for developing grant formula systems for Ontario universities. During his five-year tenure, University operating grants increased from $80 to $425 million annually and total capital grants were in excess of $600 million. Concurrently, Dr. Wright held the position of Chairman, Ontario Commission on Post-Secondary Education, involving a 3-year commission process of special studies and public hearings. For the next 6 years, he held the position of Deputy Provincial Secretary for Social Development in the Government of Ontario and Adviser to the Cabinet on such matters as policy planning, strategy analysis and resource allocation for 5 ministries (College and Universities, Community and Social Services. Culture and Recreation, Education, and Health) with a budget in excess of $9 billion. Subsequently, he was appointed Deputy Minister of Culture and Recreation and spearheaded major reorganization in the Ministry with respect to its services to the citizens of Ontario. Last year, he returned to the University of Waterloo as its President and Vice-Chancellor to pursue his fundamental commitment to excellence in university education.

Dr. Wright is a structural engineer of international eminence and a dedicated teacher and researcher. His work on space frame shells and his contribution to standards for design loads and structures are recognized worldwide. He has authored numerous technical publications and has served on vital technical committees and learned societies. Mention a few of the many honours conferred on Dr. Wright include the EIC Duggan Medal, 1967 Centennial Medal, APEO Citizenship Award, Ontario Education Association Greer Award, as well as a number of honorary doctorates.

Mr. Chancellor, I am honoured to present to you, on behalf of the Senate and by the authority of the Board of Governors, Douglas Tyndall Wright, that you may confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

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