Robert Newton (1941–1950)
Robert Newton was born in 1889 and attended McGill University, where he received a BSA (Bachelor of Science in Agriculture) in 1912. He then earned an MSc and a PhD from the University of Manitoba, in 1921 and 1923, respectively. Newton then came to the University of Alberta, where he earned a DSc.
During World War I, Newton served as an Officer in the Canadian Field Artillery and, in 1917, he was awarded the Military Cross in honour of the valour he showed at the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
Newton became a member of the University of Alberta staff in 1919, when he became a professor of field husbandry. From 1922 to 1932, Newton was a professor of plant biochemistry in the Department of Field Crops. He was also Head of this Department from 1924 to 1932. After spending eight years in Ottawa as Head of the Applied Biology Section of the National Research Council, Newton returned to the University of Alberta in 1941 to take the position of Dean of Agriculture. He was Dean until 1942.
In 1941, Newton became President of the University of Alberta. As President during World War II, he strongly supported the war effort and made numerous contributions, including lending buildings to the Department of National Defense. At the end of the war, an influx of students as war veterans returned to university. Newton oversaw the development of numerous new buildings to relieve the space and equipment shortages. Among these buildings was Rutherford South Library, named for Alexander Cameron Rutherford.
Dr Newton was also Director of Research for the Alberta Research Council from 1941 to 1951. He has served on numerous boards and committees, including the International Education Board for Graduate Studies and Research in Agriculture. He was founder and first governor of the Arctic Institute of North America and, in 1951, he developed the plan for the Memorial University of Newfoundland.
Newton was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Fellow of the Agricultural Institute of Canada, also serving as this Institute's President from 1942 to 1943. Newton also received numerous honorary degrees. On his retirement from the Presidency of the University of Alberta, Newton moved to the west coast of Canada. He passed away in 1985 in Laguna Hills, California.
The lounge across from the Office of the Dean in the Agriculture/Forestry Centre has been named in honour of Robert Newton.