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: October 20, 1973
Discipline / contribution: university administration
Citation / biographical information:
Eminent Vice-Chancellor, on behalf of the University Council and Senate, present to you William Andrew, better known as Bill Riddell, Principal Emeritus of the University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus. Bill Riddell is a true son of the West. While he was born in Manitoba, he has spent virtually all of his working life in the service of Saskatchewan. He was raised on a farm, the only thing better being raised on a ranch, his farm, however, having the redeeming feature of being a mixed farm. He received B.A. and B.Sc. degrees from the University of Manitoba and then showed the beginnings of good judgment in deciding to continue his education to the M.Sc. level in Chemistry at the University of Saskatchewan. It was in 1928 that I first encountered Bill Riddell. He was then a graduate student, while I was a lowly sophomore. Bill and my late friend, Nat Grace, I’m sure stayed up nights just making up nasty unknowns to try my patience in qualitative analysis. In spite of their nefarious schemes, I persisted in being a Chemist and I have long since forgiven them both for the fun that they had at my expense.Degree received: Doctor of Laws
Bill Riddell proceeded to Leland Stanford University where he acquired a Ph.D. degree in Chemistry and Biology in 1931. He immediately returned to Saskatchewan to become an Instructor in Chemistry at that illustrious institution known as Regina College. In 1935 he temporarily abandoned the prairies to take up a post with the Fisheries Research Board of Canada at Prince Rupert, B.C. In spite of his success in that position, he preferred the fresh smell of Saskatchewan to that of salmon and halibut and in 1938 he accepted a position as Provincial Analyst for Saskatchewan. From 1942 to 1950 he served this Province as Director of the Provincial Laboratories in Regina. In this capacity he played a key role in advancing the Clinical Diagnostic Service from the Central Laboratories to the field. The template that he created at that time for laboratory services in this province was followed for the next 15 to 20 years. He established a reputation in the Public Health field that spread well beyond the provincial borders.
In 1951, Dr. Riddell returned to academia as Dean of Regina College, a position which he filled with distinction and great devotion for 10 years. These were difficult times for the struggling junior college and the Dean and his staff had to be resourceful in introducing innovative programs. Most notable among these was the certificate program for Hospital Laboratory Technicians. This was one of the first programs of this type introduced in Canada, and it has often been referred to in other provinces as Riddell’s program. It was during this period that the ground work was laid for expansion of the College to University status.
In 1961, Bill Riddell became Acting Principal of the University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus, and he set about the task of recruiting Chairmen for what were then the three Divisions of the Faculty of Arts and Science. He went about the task quietly, as is his wont, but with great persistence and even foolhardy bravery. He even had the temerity to interrupt me in the middle of a curling game in December, 1961 to see if I would consider taking on the job of being Chairman of the Division of Natural Sciences. In retrospect, I’m not certain which of us was the foolhardy one.
From my close association with Regina Campus since 1962, I know something of the monumental load that Bill Riddell carried in developing the emerging University. In the period of his Principalship, 1961 to 1969, the enrollment increased almost tenfold from 397 to 3,794 and the number of faculty members from 35 to 244, the Faculties of Education, Administration, Engineering, and Graduate Studies and Research were established, and most of the fine buildings that we now see on this Campus arose from what was previously a wheat field much enjoyed by the Canada goose population of the Wascana Waterfowl Park. If Bill Riddell needs any monument to remind you of his service to this University and to this Province, you have only to look around you to see it. We owe him more than we will ever be able to repay.
Bill Riddell is a man of many talents, and he has always been willing to share these talents with others. He is adept at anything that he chooses to take part in, be it hunting, curling, snooker, cabinet work, hi-fl addiction, music or patron of the Arts. In 1962 he was honoured by the Canadian Conference of the Arts with the Diploma d Honneur for his service over many years to the Saskatchewan Arts Board and for his encouragement of the Fine Arts on this Campus. When he stepped down as Principal in 1969, he continued to serve the University with distinction as Assistant to the President and Secretary of the Inter-Provincial Committee on University Rationalization. At present he is continuing to serve his adopted Province with distinction as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the South Saskatchewan Hospital Centre, which includes the Pasqua, Wascana and Plains Hospitals. We trust that he will continue to be active in the affairs of this community for many years to come.
Eminent Vice-Chancellor, I present to you William Andrew Riddell, and ask that you confer on him the degree of Doctor of Law, honoris causa.
Degree presented by: A.B. Van Cleave
Degree presented at: University of Saskatchewan Regina Campus
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