Lady Violet Aitken
Convocation: October 8, 1992
The university conferred the honorary status chancellor emerita upon Lady Violet Aitken as an indication of its respect for her and as an expression of its appreciation for the distinguished manner in which she and the Aitken family served the University of New Brunswick.
Lady Aitken succeeded her husband, Sir Max Aitken, as chancellor of UNB in 1982 when he became seriously ill and felt he could no longer fulfill the duties of the office. Her acceptance of the appointment maintained the Aitken family's long and special association with UNB. Sir Max had succeeded his father, Lord Beaverbrook, who served as chancellor from 1947 to 1964.
In 1991, when Lady Aitken decided not to accept reappointment for a third five-year term, she said it was time for her "to move on to new challenges and time to open the door at UNB to contributions by someone else." Lady Aitken did accept at that time a six-month extension, expressing pleasure at being able to continue as chancellor through the centennial celebrations of the law faculty, which are a milestone for both the faculty and the university as a whole.
The faculty of law has frequently been a special focus in the Aitken family. The first Lord Beaverbrook was once enrolled as a student in the Law School and he remained a staunch supporter of it throughout his life. Among his many benefactions were two of the homes of the Law School, Beaverbrook House in Saint John (1953-59) and Somerville House in Fredericton (1959-69).
The university conferred an honorary doctor of laws degree upon Lady Aitken in 1990. As university orator Stephen Patterson said in Lady Aitken's honorary degree citation: "She has been loyal not only to the university but to the province as a whole. Through her role as director of the Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation, she has generously supported the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, The Playhouse, and the Aitken Bicentennial Centre in Saint John."
Lady Aitken's many charitable interests have been combined throughout her life with a keen sense of adventure. Her hobbies include powerboat racing and flying hot-air balloons. A graduate of Longstowe Hall and the School of Citizenship in England, she was a private secretary to several British MPs and at the London Sun Express before marrying Sir Max in 1951.