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, 1981
Discipline / contribution: University administration
Citation / biographical information:
Eminent Chancellor, on behalf of the Council and Senate I present to you Robert William Begg, Officer of the Order of Canada, Canadian Forces Decoration, Efficiency Decoration, Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Philosophy, and Fellow of The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.Degree received: Doctor of Laws
Robert Begg is a true Maritimer who, in his early years, migrated from New Brunswick to Cape Breton Island, to Prince Edward Island, and back to Halifax. After an uneventful public and high school education. Bob Begg enrolled in Kings College, Halifax, where he expressed a vague interest in medicine and was fascinated by the biological sciences. He completed a Master of Science degree at Dalhousie and then undertook medical studies, graduating as a Doctor of Medicine in 1942. On graduation. Dr. Begg joined the RCAMC. This seemed perfectly logical at the time because:
(a) there was a war on, and
(b) Bob Begg had been a soldier since he was 14 years of age.
In 1929 he joined the P.E.I. Highlanders and began a military career which spanned 41 years of service and took him from the rank of boy signaller to full colonel. But what was unusual about Dr. Begg's action on graduation was his request for posting to a parachute regiment. The reason for this strange compulsion to leap out of aircraft remains a mystery, but posted to the airborne he was, and jump he did.
After the war Dr. Begg remained in England to accept a Commonwealth Scholarship to Oxford where he studied under Sir Howard Flory to obtain a Doctorate in Pathology. He returned to Canada to accept an appointment to Dalhousie as Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Researcher with The National Cancer Institute.
Robert Begg moved to London, Ontario in 1950 to become Professor of Medical Research at the University of Western Ontario. In 1957, he came to Saskatoon as Director of the newly established Cancer and Medical Research Institute and Professor and Head of the Department of Cancer Research. Thus began an association with the University of Saskatchewan which would last more than a quarter of a century.
In 1962 Dr. Robert Begg became Dean of the College of Medicine, and in 1967 the first Principal of the Saskatoon campus. Following the establishment of a separate university in Regina, he was appointed the fifth President of the University of Saskatchewan in March 1975. Last year Robert Begg stepped aside from the demanding role of President to resume a research career which began thirty-five years ago. To further his research, he recently received a two-year grant, part of a $400,000 award to the University of Saskatchewan researchers by the National Cancer Institute of Canada.
In each of his several careers - as soldier, physician, teacher, researcher, and University administrator - Dr. Begg has made significant contributions which have been recognized by the award of honorary degrees from his former schools of Kings College and Dalhousie, and by being made an Officer of the Order of Canada by a grateful nation.
But those of this University - faculty, staff and students - wish to recognize his contributions as Dean, Principal and President. In particular, we recall his patience, understanding, and genuine concern for all students, and the leadership and support given to the faculty and staff during a critical period in the growth of this University.
Eminent Chancellor, I present to you Robert William Begg, and ask that you confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa.
Degree presented by: Jack Summers
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