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Tribute to Clair Callaghan

Clair Callaghan was a professor at Sir George Williams University, later Concordia University, and the dean of what was then the Faculty of Engineering, serving from 1969 to 1977. He died September 26, 2013, in his home of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Clair Callaghan's links with Concordia have remained very close over the years. In 1984 he received an honorary doctorate from Concordia. Former colleague, M.N.S. Swamy, and also a former dean of the Faculty, delivered a moving citation at the Convocation ceremony at the time, praising Callaghan's scholarship and leadership and recognizing his former colleague's dedication to "the pursuit of excellence in teaching and research."

Callaghan was instrumental in creating the Faculty's first computer science department and undergraduate degree program. He also helped to establish the Faculty's first two research centres, part of his strategy of bringing about an overall transformation from a purely technical training institution to one with a high research impact. He was very supportive of the chair of the departments, encouraging them to pursue excellence in the ways they saw best.

Callaghan was born in Prince Edward Island in 1933 and was an honours graduate of the Nova Scotia Technical College, which later became the Technical University of Nova Scotia (TUNS). He received his master's degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and became a Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada. His wide-ranging experience included consultancy for the private sector and government, including work for the Canadian International Development Agency, which took him to Ivory Coast, Zaire and Niger.

"I met Clair in 1965 when I became a faculty member at Nova Scotia Technical College," says Swamy. "Later, he persuaded me to join Concordia. He said it was an exciting place because there was a new engineering faculty. He encouraged Jack Borden [the first dean of engineering] to hire me."

Callaghan became president of the Technical University of Nova Scotia (TUNS) in 1977 and served until 1988. In that time, TUNS more than doubled its enrolment at the undergraduate and graduate levels, launched a new computer science program, and achieved status as a major centre of research in Atlantic Canada. TUNS merged with Dalhousie University in 1997, bringing with it the thriving Faculty of Engineering and Faculty of Architecture and Planning.

"I have very many fond memories of working with Clair for almost ten years," says Swamy.  "It was a great pleasure. We will all miss him very much. I convey my deepest condolences to his children and their families."

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