N.B.: The detail displayed about each honorary degree recipient varies, as
the database was compiled from a variety of sources. However, more information may
be available at the University Archives.
Convocation date: May 16, 1975
Discipline / contribution: scientific accomplishment
Citation / biographical information:
Eminent Chancellor, on behalf of the Council and Senate, I present to you Balfour Watson Currie, C.C., Ph.D., F.R.S.C.Degree received: Doctor of Laws
Dr. Currie has gained international recognition for his scientific work in the fields of meteorology, climatology and upper atmospheric studies involving the aurora and airglow. These interests were no doubt stimulated by a two-year leave of absence in 1932-34 when he was a member of the Canadian Meteorological Service party sent to Chesterfield Inlet in connection with the Second Polar Year. Studies of the Canadian Polar Year data were continued here after World War II under Dr. Currie's direction. During this period he taught meteorology and climatology classes to students desiring a general introduction to these subjects, and made the first detailed study of the climates of the Prairie Provinces and the North West Territories.
Dr. Currie gathered about him a group of researchers who, with their students became known internationally for discoveries related to the spectral characteristics of the aurora and airglow, and radar reflections from aurora. He laid the foundation, in 1956, of what is now the Institute of Space and Atmospheric Studies, and for ten years was its first Director.
Time does not permit mention of all the national and international committees to which Dr. Currie has been appointed, or of the many international conferences - ranging in latitude from Helsinki to Rio de Janeiro - at which he has represented Canada. He has been elected a Fellow of several well-known scientific societies and has received many honors, among them the Gold Medal of the Canadian Association of Physicists for distinguished achievements in Physics and the Patterson medal of the Canadian Meteorological Service for contributions to Canadian meteorology. In 1972 he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada, our country's highest honor.
It is appropriate at this time to pay special tribute to the contribution Dr. Currie has made to this University and to the province. Although not Saskatchewan-born, he came here at the age of 8 and received all his training in Saskatchewan schools and university, apart from his McGill doctorate. He joined our staff in 1928 as an instructor and rapidly advanced through the ranks, becoming Head of the Physics Department in 1952, Dean of the College of Graduate Studies in 1959, and Vice-President (Research) in 1967. He was a member for ten years of the Advisory Council to the Saskatchewan Research Council.
As a very active member of the faculty. Council, Senate, and Board of Governors, he contributed his experience and wise judgment to the deliberations of these bodies. He is the only person to have been President of the Alumni Association, Chairman of the Faculty Association, and President of the Faculty Club – a record which speaks for itself.
Eminent Chancellor, I present to you Balfour Currie and ask that you will confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa.
Degree presented by: R.N.H. Haslam
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