By Ben Hoffman
The Canadian government has awarded a noteworthy University of Calgary professor for his efforts and contributions to national defense.
Dr. David Bercuson, head of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies based out of the U of C, will be one of the first university professors to have ever received the Vimy Award, which is given out by the Conference of Defense Associations. The CDA is an organization devoted to finding solutions to national defense problems. The prestigious award is given to only one person a year who displays excellence in cooperation with the CDA and the national military.
“I’ve been writing military history and teaching it since the mid 1980s,” Dr. Bercuson said of the reasons he thinks he received the award. “I have participated in a number of government consultations and committees.”
Dr. Bercuson got his PhD in history in 1971, and has served in a number of roles since then, from academic to military. He was appointed Dean of Graduate Studies at the U of C in 1989, and special advisor to the Minister of National Defence in 1997.
According to the CDA, “Dr. Bercuson is a distinguished Canadian who has exhibited the highest standards of leadership throughout his career of service to Canada.”
Dr. Bercuson didn’t expect to receive the award, whose recipients are usually retired generals or figures of particularly high political standing. Former recipients include Joe Clark and Retired Generals Romeo Dallaire and Lewis MacKenzie.
“I was very surprised,” said Dr. Bercuson. “The people who have received this [award] in the past have been military leaders of some note. These are all esteemed people, and I don’t think of myself as esteemed.”
The CMSS, part of a national network of military-supported Security and Defence Forum Centres, is host to many graduate students striving to achieve both Masters and PhDs in strategy and defense-based majors. According to CMSS, “The centre is dedicated to conducting research and to the dissemination of information on these and other related fields in both Canadian and non-Canadian contexts. Our target audience includes our academic colleagues, students, schools, the military, government, business, and the general public.”
Dr. Bercuson is enthusiastic at the proposition that the award could draw prestige and future generations of graduate students to the centre.
“It would be nice, because we are always trying to attract good grads to the department,” he said. “We have many students here from outside of Calgary, Alberta, and even International students.”
Dr. Bercuson will receive the award on Fri., Nov. 21, in the Grand Hall of the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
For more information on the Vimy Award, visit www.cda-cdai.ca, and for CMSS, visit www.stratnet. ucalgary.ca.