Headlines (Campus Updates)
Laurier saddened by sudden passing of former president, Dr. John Weir
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Dr. John Weir was a big believer in family ties. A native Islander, he enjoyed returning to his roots by spending time at his summer home in Prince Edward Island with his wife, Ann, and the couple’s four sons. Back at home in Waterloo, he could often be found at the other place that was close to his heart — the campus of Wilfrid Laurier University.
More than 10 years after leaving his post as president of Laurier, Weir was still very much a part of the Laurier family. He maintained an office on campus and a Laurier e-mail address. Along with his wife and children (all four sons are Laurier grads), he created an annual scholarship for graduate economics students. He continued to live in the same home he shared with his wife during his tenure, just down the street from the university.
“He was very much a fixture at Laurier,” says Dr. Bob Rosehart, who knew Weir for 23 years. “He didn’t impose himself, but was always thinking of the best interests of the institution. He was very personable and supportive.”
Weir died August 24 in PEI of an aneurysm. He was 76-years-old.
A native of Charlottetown, Weir earned an MBA from the University of Western Ontario and a PhD in economics from the University of Notre Dame. He was a professor at the University of Manitoba before joining Laurier’s School of Business & Economics in 1965. He became chair of the Department of Economics in 1968, and then vice-president: academic a decade later before taking on the role of president in 1982. He served in this position until 1992.
“He was passionate about the student experience,” says Rosehart, who was president of Lakehead University when he first became friends with Weir. “At meetings we would sit around the table being champions for smaller universities, going up against the bigger, more established schools.”
Under Weir’s guidance, Laurier’s academic standing was enhanced with tougher admission requirements. Co-operative education was introduced for arts and social science disciplines, and the construction of Boukaert Hall residence and the John Aird Music Centre took place. He also implemented the university’s Excellence in the Eighties capital campaign, Laurier’s first major fundraising effort in 20 years, raising $6.2 million.
“John built a foundation that allowed us to grow and thrive in the last 15 years,” says Dr. Terry Levesque, chair of the Economics Department. “He had great loyalty to the school and it showed in the way he led. He thought always in terms of what’s good for the students, staff and faculty when making decisions.”
Weir was also a big Golden Hawk football fan and was known to leave meetings early to get to a game. Students and faculty alike would see him driving to campus in his red Mazda Miata with the license plate WLU 4U2, which has since been adopted by other senior administrators.
“He was a modest individual,” says Levesque. “But I think he took some pride in what we have become and his role in achieving that.”
Weir leaves behind his wife, Ann, and four sons, John, David, Michael and Gregory.
Visitation for Dr. John Weir will take place on Wednesday, August 29 at the Erb & Good Funeral Home in Waterloo from 7-9 p.m., and Thursday, August 30 from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. The funeral service will be on Friday, August 31 at 10 a.m. at St. Louis Roman Catholic Church in Waterloo.
A reception will be held in the Science Building courtyard on the Laurier campus directly following the service.