Campus News

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Campus Bulletin

January 05, 2004

University mourns loss of former president Matthews

Former University of Guelph president Burton C. Matthews died Jan. 2 at the age of 77.

Matthews became U of G’s fourth president in 1984 at the age of 57. “Burt was a visionary who saw the potential for the University of Guelph to become one of Canada’s foremost teaching and research institutions,” says president Alastair Summerlee.

Raised in the London area, Matthews earned his undergraduate degree at the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) and his PhD in soil chemistry at Cornell. He spent 20 years at U of G, beginning as a lecturer at OAC and eventually becoming vice-president (academic). He was known for his dedication to students and for his love of teaching, and was especially committed to ensuring that all young Canadians had access to higher education, regardless of their personal circumstances.

From 1970 to 1981, Matthews was president of the University of Waterloo. Returning to U of G as president, he spearheaded the University's first major capital campaign that raised more than $60 million in private and public funding, stimulating a major building program on campus.

Matthews also initiated a strategic planning process that strengthened and modernized U of G’s administration and research activities, and focussed on improving the quality of student education. Under his tenure, the University’s co-op programs were improved and the multidisciplinary nature of programs expanded, laying the foundation for U of G’s contemporary award-winning academics.

When he retired from the presidency in 1988, U of G established the B.C. Matthews fellowship in his honour. The fellowships permit faculty to go on a study leave of six months to a year to work collaboratively with scholars at other universities or research institutions.

Matthews also served as the director of several corporations, including Mutual Life of Canada, Mutual Trust, Campbell Soup Co. Ltd., and John Wiley and Sons (Canada).

Friends are invited to share their memories of Matthews with his family at the Edward R. Good Funeral Home, 171 King Street South, Waterloo, today from 7 to 9 p.m. and Tuesday from 2 to 4 p.m.

The funeral service will be held Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the St. John Evangelist Anglican Church, 23 Water Street North, Kitchener. Following the service, a lunch and reception will be held at the University of Waterloo in The Great Hall, Village 1. U of G president Summerlee and UW president David Johnston will speak at the reception.

In lieu of flowers, the family is suggesting donations to the Parkinson Society of Canada or the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario. Arrangements can be made through the funeral home.

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