Kelvin Ogilvie, a former president of Acadia University in Wolfville and an international expert in biotechnology; says his appointment to the Senate “is the capping of a career.”
“Obviously this isn’t something one can anticipate and it is something that is obviously a tremendous recognition,” he said in a telephone interview Thursday.
“To be recognized by the prime minister in this way; I can’t tell you how satisfying it is.”
Mr. Ogilvie was one of nine Senate appointments made Thursday by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The selection of Mr. Ogilvie ended months of banter about who would get the nod. There had been considerable speculation that eitherformer premier Rodney MacDonald or longtime provincial Conservative politician and former cabinet minister Brooke Taylor would get the call.
Mr. Ogilvie, an award-winning scientist and educator, said his life’s work will put him in good stead going to Ottawa.
“I think that very clearly I bring to this appointment and to the Senate, as well as to political Ottawa, experiences that are not well represented in the two Houses at the moment,” he said.
“My background in science and technology and my lifelong career and accomplishments in those areas, coupled with my involvement in post-secondary education throughout my entire career, give me experiences I think will allow me to contribute to very important debate and issues in these areas which are fundamental to the future of the country.”
Mr. Ogilvie’s scientific accomplishments include the development of the Gene Machine, an automated process for the manufacture of DNA, and the invention of the drug ganciclovir, which is used worldwide to fight infections that occur when one’s immune system is weakened.
During his 10 years as president and vice-chancellor at Acadia, Mr. Ogilvie proved to be an equally innovative administrator, introducing the groundbreaking Acadia Advantage program that offered students the use of a notebook computer as part of their tuition.
Jim Bickerton, a political science professor at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, said if people are going to be appointed to the Senate, “hopefully they will be people who are well qualified. Kelvin Ogilvie was president of Acadia University. I have no doubt he has the expertise and intelligence to do a commendable job in the Senate.”
Mr. Bickerton said he wasn’t surprised that Rodney MacDonald was not appointed.
“He is quite a young man (37) and an appointment at this young age would have meant for him more that 35 years in the Senate,” he said.
Mr. Bickerton also suggested that by accepting a Senate seat “you are pretty well writing off re-entry into electoral politics. Senators never come out of the Senate to come back into politics. So at Rodney’s age, to accept an appointment, and I don’t know if he was ever offered it, it really is an admission you are out.
“You kind of close that door.”
The president of the provincial
Progressive Conservative party lauded Mr. Ogilvie’s appointment. “I think Kelvin is a great appointment. He really set the tone at Acadia as president of the university and before that as a professor,”
said Scott Armstrong.
“And as an Acadia grad, it’s particularly gratifying to see someone from the alma mater go through.”