Robert C. Wallace (1928–1936)
Robert Charles Wallace was born in Scotland in 1881. He received an MA in 1901 and a BSc in 1906, both from the University of Edinburgh. Wallace earned a PhD in 1909 from the University of Göttingen before returning to Edinburg to work toward a DSc, which he received in 1912. After working for a year as a researcher and demonstrator in crystallography at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, Wallace immigrated to Canada and took a position at the University of Manitoba in Geology.
Wallace was a Professor of Geology at the University of Manitoba from 1912 to 1928 and, during that time, he was also an active field geologist whose work uncovered much of the mineral wealth of northern Manitoba.
In 1928, Wallace was appointed President of the University of Alberta. Unlike many practical scientists, Wallace believed that liberal arts such as literature, languages, history, and philosophy were an integral part of any education, regardless of what field the student intended to enter. As President, Wallace fought against excessive specialization and tried to keep a balance between liberal arts classes and practical and professional courses. Wallace became President at the end of the first major period of expansion at the University of Alberta and his term extended through the worst years of the Depression. In spite of financial difficulties, Dr Wallace steered the University through the difficult years, keeping its structure intact, and he left it ready for a second period of expansion.
Dr Wallace left the University of Alberta in 1936 to become Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Queen's University. He kept this position until his retirement in 1952. Wallace received numerous honours for his commitment to research and university administration. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Geological Society of America, and the Geological Society of London. Six universities granted him honorary degrees, and, in 1944, Wallace was named a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George. Wallace passed away January 29, 1955 in Kingston, Ontario.