Roy Wilson has accomplished more in the past 50 years than most people do in a lifetime. After retiring from a lengthy teaching career, he began a new career in politics, serving on the Board of Trustees for multiple educational associations. He is also an avid volunteer and has won several awards and recognitions. He and his wife Colleen have five children and 11 grandchildren living sea to sea. He is a researcher, writer, publisher, devoted opera fan, reader, walker, gardener and doting grandfather. Wilson also served as a member of the MHC faculty for 30 years and was aptly chosen as this year’s recipient of the honorary baccalaureate to be handed out at the convocation ceremony this spring.
Hometown: I lived in 10 Saskatchewan towns when growing up as my father worked for the CNR. I graduated from Elrose High School in Saskatchewan. Favourite Food: Vegetables and dessertsFavourite Band: New York Philharmonic OrchestraFavourite Movie: I love movies, but not comediesFavourite Sport: Walking
Q. Who is Roy Wilson? Describe yourself in 15 words or less.
Roy Wilson is a quiet, shy, scholarly person who is a devoted father and papa.
Q. Where did you attend post-secondary education? What did you study?
I studied at the University of Alberta completing a B.Ed in 1965; M.Ed. in 1970 and received my PhD in 1975, in the history of education.
Q. What attracted you to teaching and education?
I always had a passionate interest in learning and also in stimulating others to learn.
Q. You taught at MHC for 30 years. What did you enjoy about that time?
I enjoyed sharing the love of history with my students, researching and writing about the history of Medicine Hat and related topics and watching my education students growing in competence and professionalism.
Q. What memories from your time at MHC stand out the most?
As an instructor I participated with my education students in student-led events such as floor hockey, student governance and social events. I also remember the many ways that my students were given opportunities to work with children in the schools in Medicine Hat, including the Pen Pal project, tutoring, science fairs and student teaching.
Q. Even before retiring from MHC you began a career in politics. What motivated you to do that?
My political career began in 1980 when I was elected to the public school board in Medicine Hat; my purpose was to assist in building a school district of excellence. I also had the opportunity to provide leadership in education at both the provincial and national levels as the elected president with the Alberta School Boards Association and the Canadian School Boards Association.
Q. What types of issues or concerns have been on your agenda over the years as an advocate for education in Medicine Hat and Alberta?
Over the years I’ve battled a low regard for teaching held by many in political and business spheres.
I’ve advocated the issue of inadequate funding for education in all areas in many of the years I have been involved.
I have also experienced the frustration of observing the inability of many children to be successful in school due to inappropriate curriculum, a small number of disinterested teachers and difficult learning environments.
Q. How have you seen the landscape of education change since you began your career in 1960?
There is a greater respect for students than ever before, (example: the removal of corporate punishment in the late 1980s in Medicine Hat schools). We have more highly qualified teachers today than in the past and exciting possibilities for learning provided by technology. There has also been a significant increase in the financial support provided for students to complete post-secondary education.
Q. What do you find fascinating about history?
I enjoy learning how society has changed over the years and the many challenges that have been overcome by individuals struggling to improve their lives.
Q. A century from now, what do you think history students will find fascinating about our time?
I foresee the following evolutions:
Q. How has your own education influenced you over your life and career?
Education has given me the opportunity to be a life-long learner and to discover meaningful values to make life richer. For example: great music, good literature, exciting ideas, travel and admirable friendships.
Q. What career accomplishments are you most proud of?
There are several accomplishments I am proud of:
Q. How did you feel when you heard you were receiving this year’s honorary applied baccalaureate?
I was both humbled and honoured to be the first former faculty member to be recognized with this degree.
Q. What does the future hold for you in the next five years?
More opportunity to continue my interests and to continue to share my life with my eleven grandchildren. I still have the dream to visit all of the world’s great opera houses.
Q. What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I am an introvert. I have a huge passion for classical music. I have sung in the tenor section of many choirs and I missed my opportunity to be an actor. I live my life in a very predictable manner.
Q. Who is your inspiration/hero?
I have several: my father; former Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier; Renata Scotto, the great opera soprano; Alexander S. Neill, founder of Summerhill School in England, American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and, alas, “almost” president.
Q. Is there any other information you would like to share?
I am grateful to Medicine Hat College for the opportunity afforded me to enjoy a satisfying career and for supporting me in my numerous activities locally, provincially and nationally.
I am grateful to the citizens of Medicine Hat for supporting me for 30 years in my political career as a school trustee.
I am grateful, of course, to my family for their unconditional love and support.
What is an Honourary Baccalaureate?
For the last several years, Medicine Hat College has been proud to award honourary baccalaureates to celebrated individuals in our community. These are people who have distinguished themselves through exemplary service to the college and/or the community.
Past winners include:
2011 – Dr. Richard and Deborah Northcott 2010 – Bob Porter 2009 – John Moldon, PhD 2008 – Ken Sauer, PhD 2007 – Jim Horsman, PhD 2006 – Randy Eresman 2005 – Terry Brekko
Learn more about our honouary degree and its recipients.
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