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University of Windsor President Dr. Alan Wildeman listens to speakers during his farewell dinner at the St. Clair Centre for the Arts on Tuesday, May 8, 2018. Wildeman will be retiring on June 30, 2018.University of Windsor President Dr. Alan Wildeman listens to speakers during his farewell dinner at the St. Clair Centre for the Arts on Tuesday, May 8, 2018. Wildeman will be retiring on June 30, 2018.

Farewell dinner honours president's lasting contributions

Alan Wildeman’s legacy of transformation will forever live on at the University of Windsor.

The outgoing president was honoured during a farewell dinner Tuesday night, where more than 500 people gathered to pay tribute to his contributions throughout his decade-long tenure.

Chancellor Ed Lumley announced on behalf of the Board of Governors that the new Freedom Way building will be renamed the Alan Wildeman Centre for Creative Arts and Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens presented Dr. Wildeman with a key to the city.

“In my opinion, Alan is a great credit to his family, his home, his adopted city, his university and his country,” Lumley said. “Throughout his presidency, Alan has never wavered from his core values and his commitment to the student and public good.”

Penny Allen, chair of the University's Board of Governors, also announced that Wildeman will be given the title President and Vice-Chancellor Emeritus on July 1. Wildeman will retire from the University of Windsor on June 30.

“I am moved beyond words,” he said following the dinner at the St. Clair Centre for the Arts.

“I have been moved this entire evening by the recognition I have been bestowed by the city, by the University, and the privilege in this great community to have my name on a building.

“I wish my parents could see me now.”

The Alan Wildeman Centre for Creative Arts boasts film production studios, editing suites, a sonic art studio, and making studio for sculpture, metal, and woodworking; it stands on the site of the former Tunnel Bar-B-Q restaurant.

The room on Tuesday swelled with commendations and melody, as colleagues and family reflected on Wildeman’s transformation of the University of Windsor and the city’s downtown core.

“He was always aiming to put students first,” said Tiffany Gooch, former University of Windsor Students' Alliance president.

“You have done so much more than change the face of our campus. You have changed the community of our campus.”

Gooch capped off her salute with a winsome rendition of “When I’m Sixty-Four” by the Beatles.

Wildeman’s brother Raymond painted a picture of an older brother growing up in rural Saskatchewan whose drive led to educational pursuits around the world while never forgetting his roots.

“Alan the botanist, or the geneticist, or the president of the University of Windsor, has proved that humble beginnings - not just origins of privilege - are very fertile ground for leaders with vision and expectation,” Raymond said.

“Alan’s vision here at the University will truly shape its future.”

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens presents University of Windsor President Alan Wildeman with a key to the city during the president's farewell dinner on Tuesday, May 8, 2018.

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens presents University of Windsor President Alan Wildeman with a key to the city during the president's farewell dinner on Tuesday, May 8, 2018. Click here to see more photos from the event.

The music motif drifted in and out of tributes throughout the evening, reaching a crescendo with UWindsor voice instructor Shahida Nurullah and School of Creative Arts' students singing an original song by Wildeman, “Stonehenge.”

Wildeman said he fell in love with Windsor-Essex because it reminded him of home. He said it’s a place often overlooked but “filled with complexity and passion, but not distorted by pretence.”

Wildeman’s parting words for those in attendance came from Nobel laureate Bob Dylan: “May your hands always be busy, May your feet always be swift. May you have a strong foundation, When the winds of changes shift. May your heart always be joyful, And may your song always be sung. May you stay forever young.”


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