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Lou-PoyNew chancellor has strong community ties

Members of convocation—including alumni and faculty—have elected Ron Lou-Poy as the university’s ninth chancellor, succeeding Norma Mickelson.

Lou-Poy received 584 votes compared to 464 votes for theatre professor emeritus Juliana Saxton in voting that concluded Nov. 29. Four members of the UVic senate were also elected: Mark Bridge (728 votes), Kim McGowan (672); Cheryl Borris (662); and Vivian Muir (635). The three-year terms of the new chancellor and senators began Jan. 1.

“I am very honoured, proud and privileged,” says Lou-Poy. “I’m looking forward to the challenge because Norma Mickelson was such a fantastic chancellor—you could feel she really cared about students, the faculty and the institution.”

Lou-Poy is a third-generation Victorian, graduate of Victoria College (UVic’s forerunner), and the senior partner with Crease Harman and Company of Victoria, the oldest law firm in the province.

He credits Lawrie Wallace, a Victoria High School counsellor (and later a senior civil servant and organizer of several royal visits to B.C.) with setting him on his academic path. In Grade 10, Lou-Poy had been planning to enter clerical studies, rather than university prep courses in his final years of secondary school. Then Wallace intervened.

“He looked at my grades, called my father and convinced him that I should be on the university track. If it wasn’t for him,” says the soft-spoken Lou-Poy, “I would have been somebody’s secretary.”

Lou-Poy joined Crease Harman after graduating with a law degree from UBC in 1960. Colleagues encouraged him to be involved in the community and much of that subsequent involvement has been with the university.

He served two terms on the UVic board of governors (1972–74 and 1992–95) and was an original director of the UVic Innovation and Development Corporation. The Lou-Poy family supported construction of the Harry Lou-Poy Infant and Toddler Child Care Centre at UVic, named for Ronald Lou-Poy’s late father. The family also created the May and Ron Lou-Poy Fund of Excellence in the faculty of law.

Within the community, Lou-Poy has held various positions with the Victoria Police Board, Kiwanis Club, the United Way, Victoria Crime Stoppers, and the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. He’s been appointed Queen’s Counsel, an Honorary Citizen of Victoria, recipient of the Community Service Award from Canadian Bar Association (B.C. branch), and this year he received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal. Lou-Poy was granted an honorary doctorate of laws from UVic in 2000.

The new chancellor’s grandfather arrived in Victoria from China in the 1890s and became an entrepreneur, selling silks in Rockland and Fairfield before moving into agriculture and farm rentals. Neither of Lou-Poy’s parents completed high school. Elementary schools were segregated and by the time he was able to attend open public school, Harry Lou-Poy was three years older than the students in his Grade 8 class. He soon quit. Lou-Poy’s mother left school in Grade 6 to take up domestic work.

Lou-Poy remembers a father who stood up for himself and for the rights of the community’s Chinese. In the 1960s, Harry Lou-Poy championed the cause of a Chinese driver who had been jailed by Victoria police for a minor speeding infraction. A departmental hearing found no racial discrimination in the case. “You just don’t like to see those things,” Lou-Poy says, noting that the case made his appointment to the Victoria Police Board, decades later, that much more rewarding.

His father also took on the Victoria school board when it introduced a policy, later overturned, against purchasing produce from Chinese farmers.

Ron and May Lou-Poy—avid golfers—met at UBC. She had grown up in Alert Bay and was one of four students in the first high school graduating class from the up-Island community. They have two adult children—Anne Marie, a graduate of UVic, and Patrick.

Lou-Poy will be formally installed as chancellor June 3 during spring convocation ceremonies. The chancellor is the titular head of the university, chair of convocation, confers all degrees and is a member of the UVic senate and board of governors.

 

(Rob Kruyt photo)