I am deeply saddened to inform you that the Acadia community has lost one of our most beloved members with the passing of our former President, the Rev. Dr. James R. C. Perkin. Dr. Perkin passed away peacefully yesterday, Dec. 13, in Kentville.
An ordained Baptist Minister, Dr. Perkin arrived at Acadia in 1969 having been recruited from McMaster Divinity College by Dr. George Levy and then President Dr. James Beveridge. During his career at Acadia, Dr. Perkin served as Head of his Department, Dean of Arts and Vice-President, Academic before being appointed Acadia’s twelfth President in 1981. He was the first President in the then 140-year history of the institution to rise through Acadia’s academic ranks to lead the University.
Dr. Perkin was a widely respected scholar and he became known for his highly consultative approach and his focus on enhancing Acadia’s academic reputation. At the same time, he led a successful $20 million fundraising campaign, the largest in Acadia’s history to that point. Perhaps his most important legacy is the positive relationship he built with the Town of Wolfville and its municipal leaders, one of the characteristics he felt distinguished Acadia within Canada’s post-secondary sector.
After his retirement in 1993, Dr. Perkin continued his scholarly research and writing, including publishing Ordinary Magic: A Biographical Sketch of Alex Colville, which described the life of his close friend and former Chancellor of Acadia. Dr. Perkin was also a regular attendee at Convocation ceremonies where over a period of almost 50 years he wished thousands of Acadia graduates well.
More information about Dr. Perkin’s extraordinary contribution to Acadia and our community will be published in the coming days, as will details about memorial services and celebrations of his life. The flags on University Hall will be lowered out of respect for Dr. Perkin’s passing.
I know you will all join me in expressing our deepest sympathies to Dr. Perkin’s wife Dorothy as well as to his children, sons Russell and John, and daughter Anne and her husband, University Chaplain, Rev. Tim McFarland. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families during this sad time.
Yours in sympathy and sorrow,
Dr. Peter Ricketts
President and Vice-Chancellor