June 20, 2018 - 1:45pm
Gord Buzzard, a retiring instructor in the Faculty of Academic and Career Planning, has been passing on his belief in the transformative power of education to his ABE students for the past 35 years. A Malaspina ABE and university transfer student himself (he came here initially intending to study accounting), Gord has the honour of carrying the mace during Friday’s Convocation ceremony – a privilege given to a retiring member of the VIU community in recognition of their contributions and service to the University. His retirement party takes place on Monday (June 25) in the Royal Arbutus Room.
Known as a storyteller amongst colleagues and former students, Gord plans on making new memories to share with others now that he’s retiring. Plans included putting an electric motor on his kayak, working on a bigger boat he owns and lots of travelling. Gord also sings in a choir, builds cabinetry and he will probably come back as a sessional instructor for a course or two over the next couple years.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Born in Port Alberni, I worked in sawmills for a few years, and I became an apprentice millwright. Eventually, I came to what was Malaspina College in 1971. They told me I needed to upgrade, so I took ABE English from David Harrison, one of Malaspina’s first instructors. Our classroom was the old morgue in the hospital. I was inspired by him to think about becoming a teacher and writer. Over the next three years, I finished a two-year associate degree in English and History, then transferred to the University of Victoria, but I still call Malaspina my spiritual home. Later, I got my Master of Arts in Leadership from Royal Roads University.
Can you name a favourite memory from working here?
I’ve come to know something like 5,000 students – each one has his or her own story. Sometimes there are too many stories to remember. But I loved teaching all of them. I was blessed to work with a great team of co-workers who really shared my belief in the power of education to change lives. I sometimes get letters from past students and they tell me how powerful ABE has been for them. I know. It really worked for me.
If you weren’t retiring, and had to do something different, what would you do?
I’d be a cabinetmaker.
What trait do you admire most about yourself?
My ability to converse with almost anyone.
One of VIU’s values is using education to achieve social and economic equality. What does this mean to you?
Working in ABE, promoting social justice is clearly something I value. But my belief in creating opportunities through education is reflected in my life. I was the first person in my family to ever attend college. My whole career has been about helping folks open doors to more opportunities.