Celebrating 50 Years – Honouring MI’s Former Leaders
Friday, December 19, 2014

Over the past year, the Marine Institute (MI) has been celebrating 50 years of growth and accomplishment and acknowledging those who have contributed to the Institute’s many successes.

It is the journey of MI’s people, past and present, which has helped form the fundamentals of the Institute’s history and in early December, two former leaders were honoured for their contributions.

Portraits of Dr. David Vardy and Mr. Leslie (Les) O’Reilly, completed by retired MI employee Carl Stevenson were unveiled during separate ceremonies and will now proudly hang in MI’s Dr. C. R. Barrett Library for years to come.

They are a symbol of MI’s strong foundation – our challenges, our success, and most importantly our people.
Dr. David Vardy was the first president and CEO of the then Newfoundland and Labrador Institute of Fisheries and Marine Technology during the period of 1984-1989 and his list of accomplishments is lengthy.

Amongst Dr. Vardy’s achievements, includes the preparation of a long term development plan for the transformation of the former College of Fisheries, Navigation, Marine Engineering and Electronics into the Marine Institute.

He was also instrumental in securing financial support to build world class facilities including the full-mission, full-motion ship bridge simulator and the expansion of the offshore safety facilities at Foxtrap. As well, Dr. Vardy worked with government to establish the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation and was responsible for the launch of the Canadian Centre for International Fisheries Training and Development and the creation of a community-based approach to fisheries education and training which is still used by the Marine Institute to meet the needs of fisheries workers throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. During his presidency, the Institute moved from its original campus on Parade Street to the campus on Ridge Road.‌

“While Dr. Vardy had an impact on MI, there is no doubt that MI also had an impact on Dr. Vardy and he has often said that the time he spent at the Marine Institute were the most fulfilling years in his public service career,” said Glenn Blackwood, vice-president, Memorial University (Marine Institute).‌‌‌

Les O’Reilly was a commanding presence within the institution and an MI ambassador to the world for 24 years. He joined the College of Fisheries in 1980 as vice-president and in 1983 was appointed interim president where he led the planning and implementation of the development of our current-day campus. Upon the renaming of the Marine Institute in 1985, he took on the role of Vice President, Academic and Offshore Technology. In 1989, Mr. O’Reilly became interim president of the Marine Institute and guided the Institute’s affiliation with Memorial University in 1992 following which he continued to lead the organization as executive director.Les O’Reilly

During this time with the Institute, Mr. O’Reilly was involved with many projects including the enhancement of the Diploma of Technology programs and the launch of a common first year. He was also worked with industry to establish the Canadian Centre for Marine Communications.

Following the transfer of the engineering technology programs and associated personnel to the community college system, Mr. O’Reilly began work to increase MI’s focus on the fisheries and marine sectors, build applied research and training and introduce the first degree programs. He also instigated MI’s Vision 2020 which is the strategic agenda that continues to guide the long term development plan of the institution.

“Les’ dedication to the Marine Institute, devotion to the success of our students and commitment to our culture and reputation is second to none,” said Mr. Blackwood.

It is the important ground work laid by leaders like Dr. Vardy and Mr. O’Reilly that have provided the solid foundation which MI continues to build upon today. The Institute is grateful to both leaders for their contributions.