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February 7, 2002 A fond farewell to Lynne Prendergast



Lynne Prendergast

Outgoing Registrar Lynne Prendergast

Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj

by Barbara Black

Lynne Prendergast was given a warm sendoff on Jan. 22, as close to 200 friends, colleagues and well-wishers gathered in the Faculty Club to celebrate her more than 37 years at the university.

Lynne began her career at Sir George Williams University in 1964 as a secretary in the admissions office, and became Registrar in 1996. She is one of those rare birds who has lived every role at Concordia, having been a student, a teacher and risen through the ranks to become a senior member of staff.

All of her three degrees were earned at Concordia as a part-time student, studying while she was working. She got her her BSc in 1975, her BA in Honours English in 1981, and her MBA in 1989. She excelled as a student, too, winning the Royal Bank Award for outstanding academic performance.

She taught several terms in what is now the John Molson School of Business, in the Department of Decision Sciences and Management Information Systems, once again while she was working full-time in a demanding job.

At her farewell party, one of the speakers was Suzanne Belson, longtime ombudsperson for Concordia, who is now working part-time for the Canadian Forces. She talked of Lynne’s deep concern for the students passing through the system, and how she occasionally bent the rules to help them. Speaking as one strong-minded woman to another, she invited Lynne to eventually join her in the activist group the Raging Grannies.

Fine Arts Professor Catherine MacKenzie paid tribute to Lynne’s “scrappy” personality, and her ability to handle a crisis. The latest instance was at a recent convocation ceremony, when a fire broke out in the wings. Lynne calmly announced a momentary pause as the rest of the platform party looked fearfully up at the offstage conflagration. It was quickly extinguished, and few in the cavernous auditorium ever knew what had happened.

Former chair of the English Department Gerry Auchinachie delivered — after a rambling and witty introduction — a sea-shanty called The Ballad of Captain Prendergast, or, The Slaying of the Red-Tape Squid. He found a useful rhyme with her surname in the pirate yell “Avast!”

Retired history professor and former interim rector Charles Bertrand spoke about her fierce dedication to her often difficult job, recalling The Look, Lynne’s well-known stare over the top of her glasses when she was displeased. He was on the receiving end of The Look a few times, he said, but Lynne publicly thanked him for having appointed her the first female registrar at the university.

Lynne plans a number of trips this year with her husband, former Concordia employee Gilles Côté. All her many friends at Concordia wish her bon voyage.