U of G to Hold Memorial Service for Lincoln Alexander Oct. 29

October 25, 2012 - News Release

The University of Guelph will hold a memorial service for the Hon. Lincoln Alexander Monday, Oct. 29, at 7:30 p.m. in War Memorial Hall. The event is open to the U of G community and the general public.

Alexander, U of G’s longest-serving chancellor and one of Canada’s most groundbreaking and influential leaders, died Oct. 19 at the age of 90.

President Alastair Summerlee will welcome guests and speak at the event; other speakers will include Guelph Mayor Karen Farbridge and other local and national government representatives.

U of G community members will give readings, and music will be provided by the University’s Chamber Singers and the Women’s Chamber Choir, as well as the student group Jazz 101.

Summerlee will also speak during a state funeral for Alexander to be held Friday, Oct. 26, in his adopted hometown of Hamilton.

U of G community members and the general public can share their stories of Alexander on the University's Facebook page.

Besides being the first person in his family to attend university, Alexander was Canada’s first black member of Parliament, the first black chair of the Workers’ Compensation Board, the first visible minority appointed as Ontario’s lieutenant-governor, and the first person to serve five terms as U of G’s chancellor.

Alexander was appointed U of G chancellor in 1991. He conferred degrees on more than 20,000 graduates at convocation. His rapport with students was legendary, and he always spoke to every graduate. In 2007, he was named chancellor emeritus.

“Lincoln Alexander was perhaps the most admired and respected public figure in Ontario,” Summerlee said. “He selflessly devoted his life to promoting education, equality and fairness. He led our university with grace and dignity for more than 15 years and remained a great supporter and friend. He was an inspiration and a role model and one of a kind.”

Born in Toronto Jan. 21, 1922, Alexander grew up in Toronto and New York City. After serving in Canada’s Air Force during the Second World War, he studied political economics at McMaster University, graduating in 1949. He attended Osgoode Hall Law School and was called to the bar in 1953.

He was first elected MP for Hamilton West in 1968. He also served as an observer to the United Nations in 1976 and 1978, and was appointed labour minister in 1979.

Several Ontario schools, buildings and a highway have been named after him. Among his many awards, Alexander was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada and to the Order of Ontario in 1992. In 2006, he was named the “Greatest Hamiltonian of All Time.”

Three U of G awards carry his name: the Lincoln Alexander Outstanding Leadership Award, the Lincoln Alexander Medal of Distinguished Service and the Lincoln Alexander Chancellor’s Scholarship. On campus, Alexander Hall, an environmental teaching and learning hub, honours his commitment to the University.

His memoir, Go to School, You're a Little Black Boy, was published in 2006.

“He was an amazingly giving man, and thousands of University students, faculty, staff and alumni have benefited from his devotion, kindness and generosity,” Summerlee said. “He will be remembered, greatly missed and loved always.”

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or lhunt@uoguelph.ca; or Shiona Mackenzie, Ext. 56982, or shiona@uoguelph.ca.

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