In memoriam: Dr. Constance Rooke

Dr. Constance Rooke, who died on Oct. 2, left the University of Victoria Department of English in 1988 to pursue elsewhere a career in teaching, university administration and arts advocacy that was so distinguished—and sometimes so tumultuous—that she merited a full-page obituary in the Toronto Globe and Mail on Oct. 25. But even 20 years after her departure from UVic, she remains a legend among colleagues who worked with her during her 19 years here. Everything about Connie was on a grand scale: her intelligence, her charisma, her ambitions, her achievements, her generosities. She put her extraordinary gifts to work on three areas in particular: the practice and promotion of excellence in teaching; the push for equity in hiring/curriculum and in other social justice issues; and the advancement of Canadian literature.

In the 1970s, hers was the first course on women’s curriculum in the university, and one of the first in Canada, a pioneering move that resulted in the 1979 creation, with Jennifer Waelti-Walters (French) and Patricia Tsurumi (history), of the women’s studies program and the beginning of cross-campus curriculum changes she promoted through adroit and powerful committee work. A magnificent teacher and winner of the 3M National Teaching Award in 1987, she served as director of the English Language Program as well as of the Learning and Teaching Centre. But perhaps her most intense passion was for the promotion of literature, and her term as editor of The Malahat Review (1983–1993) was momentous for the journal and CanLit generally as she discovered and nurtured artists of exceptional talent. One of those, poet Esta Spaulding, said that Connie “swooped into your life and helped you find the things you are looking for.” She did that for me, hiring me to teach women’s studies in 1983. I found my life work through Connie, and there are hundreds of us who would claim the same. We deeply mourn her passing.

Submitted by Dr. Christine St. Peter, Department of Women’s Studies

In this story

Keywords: memori, dr, constance, rooke

Related stories

Based on the keywords for this story, no related stories were found.