William A.R. Kerr (1936–1941)
J.M. Macheachran discussed his relationship with President Kerr, dwelling especially on his being a man of particularly fine feeling, kindly disposition, and well-rounded personality. Kerr was a fair-minded President, a true friend and counsellor to his staff and students.
Original: History Trails
William Alexander Robb Kerr was born in Toronto in 1875. He received a BA and an MA from the University of Toronto before going to Harvard University to earn an AM (Artium Magister, an alternate name for a Master of Arts) in 1902. Kerr spent a year at the Sorbonne in Paris before returning to Harvard to complete his PhD in 1904.
Before entering Harvard, Kerr was a master of Modern Languages at Upper Canada College in Toronto. In 1904, he resumed teaching, this time as a professor of Romance Languages and Literature at Adelphi College in Brooklyn, New York. When Kerr came to Alberta, he became a professor of Modern Languages. As Head of the Department, he emphasized the importance of the study of French language and literature, including French-Canadian literature. In 1914, Dr. Kerr became the first Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science at the University of Alberta.
From 1917 to 1919, Kerr was Acting President of the University of Alberta, and, in 1936, he became the third President. Among his acts as President was the creation of a "Faculty Relations Committee" which mediated between the Faculty and the Board of Governors. Kerr was also a member of the University of Alberta Senate from 1913 to 1941. In 1941, Kerr retired from academic life.
Dr Kerr was an active supporter of bilingualism and was president of the French-Canadian Committee of Edmonton. From 1924 to 1928, he was vice-chairman of the Carnegie Canadian Committee on Modern Languages. Kerr was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and president of the Society in 1936. In 1935, he was named a Chevalier of the Légion D'Honneur of France. Dr Kerr passed away on January 19, 1945.