Internationally renowned fisheries scientist receives Honorary Doctorate

June 5, 2008 - 8:12am

Internationally renowned fisheries scientist Dr. Harald Rosenthal said it was a touching moment to receive an Honorary Doctorate of Technology from Vancouver Island University (formerly Malaspina University-College) at the spring graduation ceremony June 3.

“This is a very special occasion for me because this honour rounds out my lifelong career that started in Nanaimo,” said Dr. Rosenthal, known for his extensive achievements in the fields of fisheries science and aquaculture. 

Dr. Rosenthal’s affiliation with VIU (formerly Malaspina) and the Nanaimo region began in the early 1970’s when he worked for a year at the Pacific Biological Station, and which introduced him to Malaspina faculty Dr. Bill Pennell and Dr. Dave Lane.

Since establishing a relationship with Malaspina, Dr. Rosenthal has helped arrange a German-Canada Science & Technology student exchange agreement between Malaspina and the University of Kiel where he was a professor.

Now retired, Dr. Rosenthal travels extensively and visits VIU regularly as a guest lecturer on sturgeon conservation and continues to support VIU’s plan to establish an International Centre for Sturgeon Studies (ICSS) on the Nanaimo campus. He has helped secure critical infrastructure funding for this planned new facility.


“Dr. Rosenthal has been a tireless supporter of our sturgeon research efforts here,” said  professor Dr. John Morgan.  “As the president of the World Sturgeon Convservation Society, he has included VIU as an important member of the Society as well as proposing that the ICSS be included as one of the centres of excellence in sturgeon research worldwide.”

VIU President Dr. Ralph Nilson said Dr. Rosenthal’s past history “has helped raise our profile as a leading institution in sturgeon studies, and his support of the International Centre for Sturgeon Studies has helped move this important facility forward.”

During his convocation address to science graduates, Dr. Rosenthal discussed five key points he sees as essential to the development of any democratic society: attitude, vision and creativity, integrity, responsibility and respect and tolerance.

“For a scientist, attitude, integrity and respect and tolerance are the most important attributes,” he said. “People determine themselves where they go and how others respond and perceive them by having a healthy attitude,” he added.

“Integrity is so important in today’s globalized world because we seem to have lost ethical standards where maximizing profit is often the agenda without due concern to serving a fair and humane society,” he said. “We in the western world have a high responsibility of honesty and fairness. It’s identical to what we are practicing as scientists and it’s not just lip service. If you have integrity, it will have a profound impact on science and it’s reliable performance.”

Dr. Rosenthal added exercising and practicing respect and tolerance in front of people who think differently “is the key component to a good scientific approach.”

“The way we respect other ways of thinking and the more critical we are to our own ideas, the more we widen our own opportunities to new approaches,” he said. “Then we’ll become even more capable of challenging our own fixed opinions and capable of making course corrections as needed. In other words, don’t stick with a fixed mindset. " 

“It’s important globally today to overcome geographic, scientific and political barriers in a world that’s rapidly growing and needs fair and humane leadership.”

Dr. Rosenthal said he’s learned over three decades since the 1970s that Canada has a unique setting in the world. “You are a multicultural society than can practice as a model in this world for integration and tolerance to achieve an identity,” he said. “No matter your background, you are Canadian. Be proud of that.”

The Honorary Doctorate of Technology from VIU is Dr. Rosenthal’s 3rd honorary award issued by a Canadian institution, and 7th worldwide.

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