Two VIU Academics Join The Royal Society of Canada's Class of 2019

Two VIU Academics Join The Royal Society of Canada's Class of 2019

Dr. Ralph Nilson and Dr. Pam Shaw join the Royal Society of Canada's Class of 2019

September 17, 2019 - 3:45pm

Dr. Pam Shaw and Dr. Ralph Nilson are being recognized for the outstanding contributions they have made in their fields and to Canadian public life.


Two accomplished Vancouver Island University (VIU) leaders are being welcomed into the highly respected 2019 class of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC). 

Dr. Pam Shaw, Director of VIU’s Master of Community Planning program, and Dr. Ralph Nilson, VIU President Emeritus, are the third and fourth VIU academics to be elected by their peers to the society for making a positive impact on the world. 

“It is an incredible honour and very much unexpected,” says an excited Shaw. 

The RSC was created in 1883 by an Act of Parliament. It is the senior national, bilingual council of distinguished Canadian scholars, humanists, scientists and artists and is considered a valuable national resource. 

Shaw joins more than 370 members of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, Canada’s first national system of multi-disciplinary recognition for the emerging generation of Canadian intellectual leadership. Shaw is an award-winning, visionary professor recognized for engaging students in applied research projects that benefit local communities, connecting the boundless energy of students to real-life issues with local governments, First Nations, and community organizations. 

The mandate of the College is “to gather scholars, artists and scientists into a single collegium where new advances in understanding will emerge from the interaction of diverse intellectual, cultural and social perspectives.” 

Shaw says as part of her contribution she is interested in discussing with her co-fellows at VIU how they might help to further knowledge and then reach out to other members on Vancouver Island to cultivate a relationship and a link between fellows of the RSC. 

“I think the point of connection for anyone attached to the program is that love of knowledge,” says Shaw, who is also Director of the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Reserve Research Institute at VIU. “Being part of a network of knowledge, contributing to other people’s learning and to learn from them is what I am excited about. Having that tie to what I imagine is a very illustrious group of individuals.” 

Nilson joins the Specially Elected Fellows group in the RSC Class of 2019. He is being recognized for his deep commitment to creating life-changing opportunities for some of the most vulnerable people in communities throughout British Columbia. Responding to a call for action from Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, former BC child and youth advocate, Nilson launched BC’s first tuition waiver program for former youth in care in 2013. More than 200 students have come through VIU since the program began. 

During his tenure as VIU President and Vice-Chancellor, he also demonstrated unwavering support for the reconciliation process through events such as the annual Indigenous Speakers Series and ensuring that Indigenous students have access to relevant and positive post-secondary opportunities, emphasizing that education is a key determinant of sustainable prosperity for individuals and communities. 

“I am humbled and honoured to be invited to engage and contribute to the collective efforts of the distinguished scholars and advocates in the Royal Society of Canada,” says Nilson. “This is an opportunity for me to work with some of the best minds in the country on some of the most important public policy challenges in Canada. I look forward to participating within the broad network of knowledgeable individuals in the RSC, and I will continue working towards regional and national solutions for sustainable social change that will enhance the lives of individuals and communities.” 

“It is my pleasure to congratulate Dr. Shaw and Dr. Nilson on being selected by their peers for membership in the Royal Society of Canada,” says Dr. Carol Stuart, VIU Interim Provost and Vice-President, Academic. “This is a well-deserved, national recognition honouring the contributions they have made during their careers to advancing student learning and success, and fostering a culture of engagement, deep reflection and innovation at our university.” 

Susan Juby, who teaches in the Department of Creative Writing and Journalism, was appointed to the RSC College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists in 2014, and History Professor Dr. Cheryl Krasnick Warsh was elected an RSC fellow in the Academy of Arts and Humanities in 2017.

Tags: Community Planning | Reconciliation | Announcements

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