Rick Irving's Guestbook Submissions
Dear Colleagues and friends. (technically, this is to everybody else except you, but it is about you!) (my notes from your retirement event)
If I am to write a story about Rick, I need to start way back. I have been waiting almost 40 years for this occasion. Yes, I have known Rick at Schulich for 33 years and before that, his shadow was hounding me during our common time at NYU in the early 80s, where Rick was one of the first straight shooters in the Information Systems department at Stern.
In a nutshell, here is the story of Rick, a true colleague, a genuine golden heart, a real Maritimer, who called it as he saw it.
Rick has consistently taken a broad perspective of the School, of Academia, of Management education and has brought to every discussion both vast experience and great clarity, but also tremendous integrity. For all of us who know Rick, we know he has never shyed away from any issue facing our school, he has never allowed the discussion to veer away from the real issue and has called out anything that smacks of politics, agendas or would not make us a better place. He has brought pragmatism and clarity but also the desire to explore, to be curious, to broaden our mind and perspective when addressing any issue. Rick’s curiosity and willingness to try new things shows up in every aspect. (Just to keep boredom at bay during the Covid lockdown, Rick has developed new cooking and baking skills but also started to learn to draw, take up photography and continue to harass colleagues with new ideas and innovative thinking.
Rick has been a mentor to many young Turks, during his 35 years at Schulich. He always saw the importance of junior faculty to the school, while recognizing how important it is protecting junior faculty from the school.
Many of us remember our early days and Rick’s gentle but persistent invites for the famed lunches at Osgoode’s faculty lounge. There, unlike what more senior faculty feared it was happening, nothing was ever plotted except the next dinner party. But many of our academic worries, our concerns, and questions were openly discussed by all those assistant profs, and the values and the promises of the school were molded as we navigated a new world.
Rick wasn’t much older than the rest of us, but he was always a fatherly figure to all of us. And over the years, he has taken the same care, and has extended the same degree of sanctuary toward every junior faculty and sought to protect, advise and put a human face in everything they would come across so they could maneuver through the jungle that is often York.
Rick never clamoured for it, but quietly continued on this, so important role, throughout his years at the school, no matter what his formal title might have been. There are many colleagues that have benefited from his time and guidance. There are literally dozens of colleagues that call Rick, their mentor.
Other stories with Rick would certainly rest on the adversities of India and the unimaginable challenges of teaching over there in the dead of winter. Only Linda can attest to the hardships, as she and Rick frequently overlapped in the January schedule. (revealing pictures attached)
Rick, is also a straight shooter, as few around. In spite of Rick's attempts to act Greek and consistently mispronounce the simple word spanakopitta, he just does not have it. Greeks know the art of give and take. You scratch my back and I scratch yours. But not Rick. No matter how close we are as friends and colleagues, Rick will tell me to my face when he would stand against one of my motions at Faculty council or anything I wanted to raise in a committee for which he would disagree. I will try to remind him of our beers together, our dinners and our chocolate ice creams, but to no avail. Rick will tell me where he will stand on the issue and why he would disagree with me. The only thing I would get from him is a forewarning, but never any slack. And he would never let me bullshit my way out of anything. Do you know how annoying it is to have someone call all your BS for what it is, before you even finish your sentence? Rick has honesty, and a pragmatic perspective on things that is both enormously refreshing and constructive. This is why I would go back to him and get his take on things, no matter how many times he would call my BS.
But Rick is not only words and cheap wisdom. Rick would never hesitate to raise his hand and offer to help, work on something together, give me a hand with anything that would make the school better, our programs better, our students more successful. And would always bring both the academic perspective and real pragmatism to the job.
He would always be available, always impatient, and never gentle, always a voice of Maritimer reason, which means, a straight shooter with few if’s and but’s. Always willing to help in everything academic, everything York. A tireless colleague to his service at Schulich, with a great sense of humour and enormous integrity, decency, honesty.