Frank R. Wilson
Vice-President (Research and International Co-operation) Emeritus
Convocation: October 19, 1997
An outstanding administrator and teacher, Frank R. Wilson has devoted nearly 30 years to serving his alma mater, his profession and the community.
He received emeritus status for the vice-president (research and international co-operation) position he held from its inception in June 1992 until August 1997. During those years, his initiatives contributed significantly to UNB's reputation as an exceptional institution, strong in research and a major force in the New Brunswick economy and community.While vice-president, Dr. Wilson developed and refined research services and outreach to industry and government.
He initiated and implemented the program to establish research centres and chairs at UNB, which now number 25. His ability to organize and make the best use of contacts assisted the creation of the network of family violence research centres across the country and the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research at the University of New Brunswick.
By creating within his office two international liaison offices, one in Fredericton and one in Saint John, and by establishing FOCAL Atlantic in 1994, Dr. Wilson redefined the international mandate of the university. These structures have enabled the university to have a stronger impact not only regionally but also overseas. Dr. Wilson was also a major player behind the scenes in the university's most successful fund-raising campaign, the Venture Campaign.
The mutually beneficial association between the man and the university began in the late '50s. After teaching in public school, surveying with Maritime Marshlands Administration, and working with the installation of early warning radar systems in the far north, Dr. Wilson enrolled in the civil engineering program as a mature student. He started teaching in the department of civil engineering in 1967. Except for study in the United Kingdom as a Beaverbrook scholar and a short time at the University of Maine, he spent virtually his whole career at UNB in teaching, research and management.
Over the course of three deanships - a record-breaking number at UNB - he developed and refined a legacy of building and excellence. While dean of engineering for eight years, he was the driving force in getting M. Patrick Gillin Hall built to house the growing faculty, and he oversaw the establishment of 11 funded research chairs in engineering. While serving as dean of students for three years, he developed the health centre and counselling services, which have benefited students for more than 20 years. During his three years as dean of graduate studies and research, he promoted widespread recognition and appreciation of research in the university community.
The engineering profession has also received many contributions from the energetic academic. Dr. Wilson served as president of the Association of Professional Engineers of New Brunswick, on the Safety Committee of the Transportation Association of Canada and several committees of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, chair of the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers Human Resources Board, and as associate editor of the Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering.
No matter what his administrative position, Dr. Wilson managed to maintain touch with the twin functions of teaching and research. A specialist in accident investigation and top-notch researcher, he co-founded the Transportation Group and attracted almost $3 million in research funding, most of which was directed to the support of graduate students. Dr. Wilson continued to teach throughout his career, often on Saturday mornings to the chagrin of his students. He also established a remarkable publication record of close to 100 refereed items and a book.
Despite his hectic schedule, Dr. Wilson never lost his interest in people and the community. He is well known for helping family, friends, colleagues, and anyone who needs assistance. Countless students in particular have come to him for a listening ear and advice. In the community, he is known for his efforts to strengthen the relationship between town and gown.
Officially retired, Dr. Wilson continues to pursue his research interests as an honorary research professor in the faculty of engineering.