Honorary degree citation - Robert Wall*
By: Martin Singer, June 1999
Mr. Chancellor, I have the honor to present to you Dr. Robert E. Wall, distinguished scholar, university administrator and author.
Robert Wall was born in New York City in 1931. He was educated in the Jesuit tradition, first at Xavier High School in Manhattan then at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he graduated with Honours in History. He did his post-graduate work at Yale and received his PhD in 1965.
Over the next five years, he taught history at both Duke University and Michigan State University, and in 1970 he accepted a position with Sir George Williams University, one of Concordia's founding institutions.
Dr. Wall arrived at Sir George Williams during a pivotal time in the University's history. Plans were under way to bring together Sir George Williams and Loyola College to create a new entity - Concordia University. When asked to comment on the proposed merger, Dr. Wall noted that he never could seem to get away from the Jesuits.
He served as Chair of the History Department for five years until he was named Provost of the new Concordia Faculty of Arts and Science. In this capacity, Dr. Wall played a critical role in the development of Concordia's unique interdisciplinary colleges - the Liberal Arts College, the Science College, Lonergan University College, the School of Community and Public Affairs and the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, as well as the Centre for Mature Students and the Institute for Cooperative Education. It is a credit to his vision and academic and administrative skills that the colleges continue to thrive and attract top-quality students.
In 1980, Robert Wall left Concordia to accept the challenges offered as Provost of the Rutherford Campus of Farleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey, then moved on to Gannon University and finally settled at Fairfield University in Connecticut where he is now Academic Vice-President.
Dr. Wall has published many scholarly books and articles on American history, but his passion for Canadian history provided a new career direction as the best-selling author of Canadian historical fiction. His first novel, Blackrobe, went through three printings, was translated into French and was adapted into the highly successful CBC Radio drama series The Canadians. He has since branched out to include works of popular fiction.
Although he lives and works in the United States, he remains a proud Canadian. He received his Canadian citizenship in 1976 and jokes that he is the only resident alien in the United States who was born in Brooklyn.
As Concordia University prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary this year, and our colleges their 20th, it is appropriate that the man who played a key role in their creation be here to celebrate with us.
Mr. Chancellor, it is my privilege and an honor to present to you, on behalf of Senate and the Board of Governors, Dr. Robert E. Wall, so that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.