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 14, 1968
Discipline / contribution: research ; public service
Citation / biographical information:
Eminent Chancellor: I present to you Omond McKillop Solandt, an eminent Canadian who, through I4s exceptional talents for organization and direction, has made and continues to make significant and important contributions to many aspects of research and higher education in our country.Degree received: Doctor of Laws
By profession, he is a medical doctor, the MD degree and a Gold Medal being awarded to him in 1936 by the University of Toronto. Both prior and subsequent to the award of the MD degree he displayed an interest in research, doing research in physiology from 1931 to 1933 in the laboratories of Dr. C.H. Best at Toronto and in 1936 and 1937 at Cambridge University.
A potential career as a university teacher at Cambridge came to an end shortly after the outbreak of World War II when he undertook more urgent duties. He served until 1941 as Director of the Southwest London Blood Supply Depot. Next, he founded the Medical Research Council’s Physiological Laboratory, engaged in research on tank design and physiological problems peculiar to tank personnel. His interests then turned to the new field of operational research, helping to establish the Armoured Fighting Vehicle Section of the Army Operational Research Group. By 1944 he was Superintendent of this Group. He joined the Canadian Army in February, 1944 and left the Army in 1946 as a Colonel.
All this was a prelude to an important and necessary task that had to be done in Canada--the creation of a permanent defence research organization.
Dr. Solandt’s planning led to the establishment of the Defence Research Board in 1947. He was the first Chairman of the Board. Under his direction, DRB grew into one of our most productive research organizations with laboratories in many parts of Canada. Only part of the work in these laboratories was on research and development of the “hardware” required for defence. Much was on fundamental problems related to our bounding oceans, the Canadian North, and the ionosphere as well as on electronics, telecommunications, computer techniques, chemistry and biophysics. It was largely through grants and contracts from DRB that we were able to establish our Institute of Space and Atmospheric Studies.
In 1956, Dr. Solandt turned his attention to industrial research and development, leaving ORB to become Vice-President, Research and Development, of the Canadian National Railways. This was followed by a period between 1963 and 1966 as
Vice-President, Research and Development, with de Havilland Aircraft of Canada and Hawker Siddely Canada Ltd.
It was no surprise to those of us acquainted with Dr. Solandt, and the many activities which he had organized and directed, that he was selected as the Chairman of the Science Council of Canada when it was established in 1966. As most of you know, the Science Council has the responsibility of examining the state of the university, government and industrial research in Canada and of recommending desirable methods of support to develop an overall science policy for Canada.
It is hardly necessary to mention that Dr. Solandt’s distinguished services have been recognized in various ways. I will mention only a few--the Order of British Empire in 1946, the United States Medal with Bronze Palm in 1947, honorary DSc and LLD degrees from at least seven Canadian universities, election to the Royal Society of Canada in 1948 and award of the much-coveted Gold Medal of the Professional Institute of Canada in 1956. Currently, he is the Chancellor of the University of Toronto.
Finally, I should mention that Dr. Solandt was born in Winnipeg. We would like to feel that this early exposure to the stimulating atmosphere of Western Canada contributed in some measure to his success as a scientist and as an organizer and director of scientific establishments and councils. We are honoured that very soon we will be able to count Dr. Solandt among our Alumni.
Eminent Chancellor, on behalf of the Council and Senate of the University, I present to you Dr. O.M. Solandt and ask that you confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
Degree presented by: B.W. Currie, Dean of Graduate Studies
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