Robert & Norah Wallace Commemorative Scholarship and Robert T. Wallace Award

Robert Thomas Duff Wallace

Throughout the history of the University of Victoria, from the fledgling days of Victoria College in 1903 to the drive to improve facilities in recent times, there have been individuals who have held the institution together, who have provided guidance.  Bob Wallace is one such figure and his more than 40 years of involvement with Victoria College and UVic have had a definite and positive effect on the success and recognition of the campus of today.

A story about his retirement in a 1972 issue of The Daily Colonist summarizes Bob Wallace's dedication.  "In many ways, Wallace's history is the history of the young University.  He was there when it was called Victoria College and was located in Craigdarroch Castle, he moved with it to the Lansdowne campus in 1946, and he was with it when it moved to the present Gordon Head campus in 1962 and became a university.

"During the 40 years he has been involved with the institution he has filled almost every conceivable position.  He was a student for two years, a mathematics teacher, head of the mathematics department, acting principal of the College, dean of administration, dean of arts and science (twice), acting president and vice president, as well as filling at times the role of registrar and bursar."

One characteristic which is brought up again and again in writings about this man is his ability to treat students, faculty and the community alike as human beings in whom he is sincerely interested.  As two students noted, he makes people feel involved.  "As I recall it, any function found Bob Wallace present and taking an active part."  "If you became a member of one of Bob's classes you became important to Bob."

Other traits which served Bob Wallace in good stead during his administrative roles at the University were his gentleness and ability to get the most out of people.  He was very well liked by the students, and this fact, combined with his diplomacy and tact, allowed him to guide the University over some potentially confrontational events in the late 1960s.

In 1972 he received an honorary degree from the University of Victoria. Today, he continues to keep in touch with the University and is often sought out by people wishing information on the history of the University.  The following is taken from the 1972 awards ceremony where he received an honorary LLD, but it applies as much now as it ever has.

"Robert Wallace has been associated with this University and its predecessor, Victoria College, for 47 years, first as a student, then as a teacher.  Indeed he holds the longest teaching record of any professor during the history of the institution: a matter of 38 years, a whole lifetime of service and inspiration to students of mathematics.  But Bob Wallace taught more than mathematics; he taught dedication and tolerance, friendliness and charity, humility and integrity. He taught both the young and the whole community, for, when he was not encouraging a rugby team or guiding members of the students' council, he was urging the citizenry to continue learning.

"Mr. Wallace was born near Victoria, educated at a one-room school at William Head, then at George Jay School, Victoria High School, Victoria College, Victoria Normal School, and the University of British Columbia.  After a brief period of teaching in the interior, at Duncan and at Victoria High School, in 1933 he followed Walter Gage, his own Professor of Mathematics, as a one-man department at Victoria College.  As the institution grew, Professor Wallace became Department Head, Vice-Principal, the first Director of Evening Division, the first Director of Summer Session, the first Dean of Administration, the first Vice-President and finally Acting President of this University.

"A year ago [1971], his countless friends of the campus community established the Robert T. Wallace Scholarship as a perpetual reminder of his concern for young people.  Today, just before his birthday, in a more formal and academic way, the University honours a patient teacher, a kind and gentle leader, and a life-long friend."

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