Soft-spoken and as brilliant as the stars that have captivated his imagination since childhood, Acadia alumnus and former faculty member Dr. Roy Bishop (CAS ’59, BSCH ’61) has always embraced academic and educational pursuits with meticulous scholarship and persistent inquiry. He shared this commitment to understanding the physics of things during four terms as head of the Physics Department at Acadia before being named Professor Emeritus and Honorary Research Associate on his retirement.
Dr. Bishop has had an illustrious career in the physics and astronomy world. His academic honours and accolades are extensive. In 1997 he was honoured by the International Astronomical Union when asteroid #6901 was named Roybishop. He has been recognized by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) as Honorary President and Observer’s Handbook Editor Emeritus, was named a Fellow of the RASC in 2013, and in 2012 was inducted into the Discovery Centre Science Hall of Fame in Nova Scotia.
Perhaps equally important has been his abiding commitment to student success at Acadia, and this is certainly evident in his generous philanthropy. On Tuesday, November 12, 2019, faculty, staff, students, alumni and members of Acadia’s administration gathered in the Wu Welcome Centre at Alumni Hall to celebrate Dr. Bishop and his tremendous gift to enhance the endowment established by his mother, the Florence Jodrey Bishop Scholarship fund for Business and Physics. In making this gift, Dr. Bishop honoured his mother by adding a third scholarship in English, since this was her degree. The endowment fund now stands at over $300,000 thanks to Dr. Bishop’s contribution.
A legacy for students
Executive Director of Philanthropy Nancy Handrigan (’92) lauded Dr. Bishop for supporting Campaign for Acadia, the most ambitious fundraiser in the University’s history, and thanked him “for creating a legacy to benefit students for generations to come.”
She also cited Dr. Bishop’s strong filial connections to the University. His paternal grandfather, George Lovett Watson Bishop, graduated from Acadia in 1899 with a Bachelor of Arts. His maternal grandmother, Lena Isabel (Coldwell) Jodrey, graduated with a Business Certificate in 1909 and 54 years later her husband, Roy A. Jodrey, received an honorary Doctor of Civil Laws from Acadia.
Dr. Bishop’s mother, Florence Mae Jodrey, graduated in 1934 with a BA. Florence’s four children – Roy, George, Marianne and Joan – all attended and graduated from Acadia over a 10-year period, 1959 to 1969.
Also in attendance were representatives of the fourth and fifth generations of the Bishop family. Roy’s and Gertrude’s son Grant and wife Sherry are Acadia graduates from the 1980s and the Bishops’ granddaughter, Kyra Florence Cuthbertson, is a current student in Environmental and Sustainability Studies.
University Provost and Vice-President Dr. Dale Keefe brought greetings on behalf of University President Dr. Peter Ricketts. Keefe said it was always a pleasure to recognize and show appreciation for donors, “especially when they are retired faculty. There is something truly special about that.”
In thanking Dr. Bishop for his generosity, Keefe observed that “competition for students is getting more intense, and providing scholarships is fundamental to our institution. Gifts like this mean more students are able to be part of the Acadia experience.”
Handrigan also invited two of this year’s recipients of the Florence Jodrey Bishop Scholarships to say a few words. Tanden Cook (Physics) and Alexander (AJ) Allain (Business) both expressed their gratitude for the scholarship support. Cook said, “coming from a small town, I didn’t have many options to gain higher education. I want to go into astrophysics, so being able to get the degree to allow me to go further is something I am truly thankful for.”
“Thank you for your great support,” Allain added, “not only from myself, but from those who came before me and those who will come after. Your gift motivates me to continue to give back to others in the community of Wolfville, both while I’m here and after I leave.”
An investment in education
Dr. Bishop spoke fondly of his mother, saying, “we are here this afternoon because of an Acadia student who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree 85 years ago. Sixty years later, she made provision in her will for two scholarships at Acadia, one in Business and one in Physics, departments from which her two sons had graduated, and in which they subsequently taught.
“Rising tuition costs may discourage some from making one of the most important investments of their lives – their education. To counter inflation, to thank Acadia University for its influence on my life, and to further honour the memory of Florence Mae Jodrey, I have increased the scholarship endowment of her Business and Physics scholarships from $20,000 to $100,000 each, and I established a third scholarship with a similar endowment, the Florence Jodrey Bishop Scholarship in English.”
Dr. Bishop concluded his remarks with a few words about his own experience at Acadia. “I spent five years as a student at Acadia, first in the engineering program, after which I returned for a science honours degree. Those Acadia years had a profound, positive impact on my life. The impact was due primarily to professors, several from whom I took classes, and a few I came to know informally.
“That was 60 years ago, so hardly anyone in this room today knew those professors. For a brief moment I wish to mention a few of them, to bring their names briefly out of the mists of the past, Acadia professors who introduced me to so much intellectual beauty when I was between 17 and 21 years of age: In the Arts faculty: Keith Thomas, English; Walter Kurth, German; and Friedl Gmeiner, Music. In the Science faculty: Bernard Cain (’33) and Edgar DeWolfe (’24), Engineering; Doug Snow (’43) and Jacob Cukierman, Mathematics; Bill Noble and Ray Magarvey (’49), Physics; and, more recently, Merritt Gibson (’51) and Sherman Bleakney (’49), in Biology. It is professors like those who make a university worthy of the name. They helped to establish Acadia’s excellent reputation.”
Acadia University would like to thank Dr. Bishop for his generous gift, which will open doors to innovative learning opportunities and provide exceptional support to our students.
To view photos from the event, click here.
By Fred Sgambati and Natalie Weekes