Honorary Degrees

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.


Honorary Degree Recipient, Robert Knowles, May, 1987 (Photograph Collection, A-7949)
Name: Robert Patrick Knowles, B.S.A., M.Sc., Ph.D.
Convocation date: May 20, 1987
Discipline / contribution: crop science
Citation / biographical information:
Madam Chancellor, on behalf of the Council and Senate I present to you Robert Patrick Knowles.
Bob Knowles is a shining example of a dedicated, hard working scientist who has been highly successful in his chosen field, grass breeding.
He was born in Unity, Saskatchewan and took his early schooling there. He attended the University of Saskatchewan and obtained his B.S.A. in 1941 and M.Sc. in 1943. He had already developed his interest in forage crops by this time. Both his undergraduate and M.Sc. theses were concerned with alfalfa seed production. He served in the Canadian Army from 1943-1945 and then attended the University of Wisconsin where he obtained his Ph.D. Bob was a scholarship winner throughout his academic studies.
Dr. Knowles has spent his entire career, starting in 1941, as a scientist with the Research Branch of Agriculture Canada. During this career he has become a grass breeder who is known and respected world wide. His studies on combining ability in forage grasses and the development and application of population genetics methods to the breeding of synthetic cultivars have added a great deal to the scientific basis and precision of grass breeding. His studies on randomness of crossing, using genetic markers which he developed, are classics in the field. Not only has he contributed significantly to the fundamental basis of breeding cross pollinated crops but he has made a major contribution to prairie agriculture by applying this knowledge. He has produced 9 cultivars of several grass species which occupy a major portion of the tame grass acreage of the Northern Great Plains. He has not limited himself to breeding, he has also applied himself to the management of grasses for both seed and forage production. He is frequently consulted by growers and various government agencies.
Bob Knowles has also had a long and fruitful association with the Crop Science and Plant Ecology Department of this University. He is an Adjunct Professor of the department and has taught forage management and breeding. In addition he has supervised a number of Ph.D. and M.Sc. students and served on numerous advisory committees for us. We in the department place a very high value on these contributions.
His contributions in the various aspects of his chosen field have been recognized by a variety of awards. He was awarded an Honorary Life Membership in the Saskatchewan Agricultural Graduates Association in 1961. He was the first recipient of the Western Cooperative Fertilizers Agronomy Merit Award in 1969. In 1971 he was made a Fellow of the Agricultural Institute of Canada and an Honorary Life Member of the Canadian Seed Growers Association. He was awarded the Merit Certificate by the American Forage and Grassland Council in 1978. The Canadian Seed Trade Association made him their 1985 Man of the Year and last year he and his brother Paul were amongst the Distinguished Graduates of the College of Agriculture recognized on the occasion of the College's 75th anniversary. Truly a remarkable list of honors.
Dr. Knowles comes from a family of achievers, his sister Dorothy is a famous painter of international reknown and his brother Paul is an expert on oilseed breeding who also has an international reputation for excellence. His brother Doug would no doubt have been in the same class if he had not been killed in the second world war.
Bob Knowles has quietly and effectively established himself nationally and internationally as the Dean of Canadian grass breeders, a man who is respected by his colleagues and by the farmers he serves.
Madam Chancellor, I present to you Robert Patrick Knowles and ask that you will confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa.

Degree received: Doctor of Laws
Degree presented by: B.L. Harvey

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