By Dario Balca

This month, John ApSimon will retire after more than 50 years at Carleton and the university recognized him today for his myriad contributions as a popular educator, top administrator and innovative fundraiser.

“I was humbled and delighted,” said the affable ApSimon. “I don’t think about awards, so it came as a surprise. I’m very proud of this university so, it really is a signal honour to be recognized that way.”

The Founders Award is Carleton’s highest non-academic honour. It is given to people who have made significant contributions to the university’s progress.

In ApSimon’s 52 years at the school, there seems to have been no shortage of those.

He began working at Carleton as a chemistry professor in 1962 after receiving his BA and PhD from the University of Liverpool.

During his time at Carleton, ApSimon has held numerous positions on the academic and administrative sides of the university. These include chair of the Department of Chemistry, dean of Graduate Studies, vice-president ((Research), and vice-president (Academic). ApSimon has been the school’s director of Corporate Relations since 2011.

“One of the highlights of my career was the students I worked with,” he said. “I basically got out of teaching in the ‘90s, but I find a real passion for that.”

Another highlight, says ApSimon, was in the 1990s, when former president Richard Van Loon asked him to oversee academics. At a time when Carleton was experiencing financial troubles and a decline in enrolment, ApSimon headed the Steps to Renewal program, which played an important role in improving those trends.

More recently, the 79-year-old has been heavily involved in fundraising and making Carleton the hub for Big Data, an emerging field of integrated data study, management and application.

Despite his love for teaching, ApSimon said working in the administration where he could spread ideas and affect change across the entire university is what motivated him the most.

“I’ve always liked administration from an innovation point of view. What I’ve really been interested in is what you might call change management that is enabled by projects—that seems to be my shtick.”

Change, said ApSimon, has only been possible because of Carleton’s progressive attitude.

“It’s a nimble university,” he said. “If you want to pursue some initiative that’s going to improve the place or give it a new direction, I think it’s always been relatively easy to do that.”

For ApSimon, retirement from his full-time job at Carleton doesn’t mean he’ll stop working altogether. He said he’ll stay open to whatever short-term projects come along.

“I won’t retire completely because I’ll go out of my skull,” he said.

“I think the best part is having been part of the success of Carleton University, without looking back at individual things. Carleton is a lovely institution, a great institution, and I’m proud to have been part of its development.”

Tuesday, June 10, 2014 in
Share: Twitter, Facebook