June 4, 2008 - 4:30am

When Robert D. Lane retired from Malaspina University-College, his former students started the S.O.B. club – Students of Bob, to honour their former professor and carry on some of the discussions his lectures and teachings had inspired.

Now, after almost 40 years of outstanding service to Malaspina University-College (now Vancouver Island University) all the S.O.B.’s can celebrate because their former professor and mentor will be recognized with the Outstanding Service Award at the convocation ceremony on Tuesday, June 3.

Robert D. Lane, who was one of the first faculty members hired in 1969, began his career at Malaspina in the old hospital on Kennedy Street, where he established himself as a committed teacher and campus leader.

“Malaspina College was a brand new idea on the Island,” said Lane. “It was a community college, coming to fruition as the result of many hours of work by community members who wanted the opportunity for post-secondary education closer to home. We started in that old hospital building on Kennedy Street and my office was across from what was once the nursery. I had students who were born in that building and who were happy to be taking university level courses there.”

In Lane’s 40 years of service, he was also a great contributor and builder of cultural life at Malaspina and in Nanaimo. In addition to his regular teaching duties, he was an active participant in the recruitment and advising of high school students and the founding member of (and for years, the only member of) the Malaspina Philosophy department.

“The success of Vancouver Island University has been shaped in part by the activities and work undertaken by exceptional individuals such as Robert Lane,” said Vancouver Island University President, Dr. Ralph Nilson. “He personifies a standard of excellence and innovation that is exemplary.  Through his work and commitment to Malaspina University-College, our students and staff have enjoyed an enriched learning environment. I am very pleased that we are able to honour Bob with this special Doctorate award.”

Lane was also the founding director of the Institute for Practical Philosophy, which is still an active player in community issues and contemporary moral issues. Over the years, the IPP has hosted conferences on several hot topics from child labour to pornography.

Lane also participated in theatre productions, poetry readings and art shows. One of his proudest moments came when he taught Creative Writing and put on a series of one act plays.

“The five one act plays were written by my students and, for the most part, they also acted in them. It was a huge hit with over 200 people crowding into the community hall. That was rewarding because it showed what could be done with very little money in the community.”

Lane also founded the Vancouver Island Literary Society and brought up-and-coming poets, including Michael Ondaatje, to Malaspina. He was also was the founder and managing editor of Island, a literary magazine. When Malaspina moved to Fifth Street, Lane was the Special Events Coordinator and responsible for activity in all the arts on campus.

“My other proudest moments are those where students were involved in intellectual and artistic expressions while in the community,” he said.

Lane was also a great contributor to programming courses at Malaspina. He designed, supported, and coordinated new interdisciplinary courses while pursuing his interest in philosophy at the University of California-Santa Barbara and at Simon Fraser University. Subsequently, he founded the Philosophy department at Malaspina. In addition to his devotion to his students, he supported his colleagues in many administrative positions, including Area Chair (the equivalent of Dean).

Lane received the Outstanding Service Award at the Convocation Ceremony at the Port Theatre on Tuesday, June 3.


Tags: In the Community


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