Glenn Blackwood: Sixteen years leading MI
Thursday, September 9, 2021

Glenn Blackwood walked out the doors of the Fisheries and Marine Institute building as vice-president of Memorial University (MI) for the last time Sept. 1 – wrapping up 16 years of leadership and his final term at the helm of MI.

“This has been a great job and I’ve enjoyed it immensely. I can’t say enough thank-yous to everybody here. This is a special place and I’m going to miss the people,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s the people who make this place work – not the world-class technology that we’ve been blessed with.”Glenn Backwood MI 2005

Throughout the pandemic, he said everyone pulled together to generate revenue and contribute to the institute’s bottom line.

“I am really proud of the way everybody here responded. We did $14 million last year in revenue at a time when I didn’t think that was possible, and that kept us whole.”

Future in the ocean

A self-described bayman from Hare Bay, Bonavista Bay, Mr. Blackwood comes from a family of mariners.

His father travelled shipping routes from Labrador to the Caribbean, many of his uncles worked in marine transportation, and his brother is an MI graduate and marine engineer.

Both his sons are also MI graduates, and one continues the family tradition as chief mate with an international shipping company.

“I believe the future of this province is in the ocean and we’re really well positioned to lead that. We can take the expertise we have in maritime education and training, ocean technology, and fisheries management and development – and we can take that to the world.”

Early career

A graduate of Memorial’s B.Sc. (Hons) in marine biology and master’s in resource management, Mr. Blackwood started with Fisheries and Oceans in 1979 before moving to the provincial fisheries department.

There, he was a technical advisor in the harvesting division, marine biologist and resource planning supervisor. By 1991 he was director of resource analysis and went on to become assistant deputy minister of fisheries.Glenn Blackwood MI 2011

In 1997 he joined the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation as managing director.

Three years later, he became director of MI’s Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Resources (CSAR). He expanded the centre’s go-to-sea capacity, geographical reach and flume tank testing services to include marine technology.

MI leadership

Mr. Blackwood’s collaboration with industry and an ability to attract public- and private-sector funding at CSAR served him well in his next job.

He was appointed MI executive director in 2005, and appointed vice-president of Memorial University (Marine Institute) in 2011 for the first of two terms.

During that time the institute created the School of Ocean Technology, the Centre for Applied Ocean Technology, The Journal of Ocean Technology, the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research, seven master’s programs and two PhD programs.HMB construction 2021

As well, the Hibernia anchor handling simulator was built, the institute landed several research chairs including its first Canada Research Chair in 2018 and the Holyrood marine base was developed.

“The Holyrood marine base is nearing completion – I’m quite proud of that. I believe this specialized access to the ocean will transform the way our students, researchers, clients and industry partners will interact with the ocean.

“Everyone at the Marine Institute is responsible for its growth and success during my time here.”

Global leadership

Mr. Blackwood also represented MI on national and international stages.

He has twice been elected chair of the International Association of Maritime Universities, representing 65 maritime universities worldwide. He’s the first Canadian to do so.

An executive board member of the World Maritime University since 2014, he is also a fellow and governor of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.Glenn Blackwood MI 2021

He will continue in these roles until his appointments end.

He is in the process of wrapping up board appointments to Canada’s Ocean Supercluster and the Ocean Frontier Institute.

New leadership

Dr. Rob Shea, MI associate vice-president (academic and student affairs), will serve as vice-president, Memorial University (Marine Institute) pro tempore effective Sept. 2, 2021, until a search committee completes its work and a new VP is appointed.

Dr. Angie Clarke, MI director of academic and student affairs, will serve as associate vice-president (academic and student affairs) pro tempore effective Sept. 2 until August 31, 2022, or when Dr. Shea returns to his permanent position.