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Appointment “a new challenge” for football alumnus Galloway

Bruce Galloway poses in front of Axeman carving in main lobby of the Athletics Complex with friend and teammate Jim Durrell
Bruce Galloway poses in front of Axeman carving in main lobby of the Athletics Complex with friend and teammate Jim Durrell

WOLFVILLE, N.S. - By John DeCoste '77 - As one of Acadia's most important volunteer leaders and benefactors, Bruce Galloway is part of a very select group who have made a unique contribution to the university's reputation for excellence.

Galloway is now part of another select Acadia group. His appointment as Chancellor represents "an opportunity to continue to give back" to the school he first graduated from 50 years ago.

Galloway, a Pointe Claire, Quebec native, was installed as Acadia's seventh Chancellor at a May 14 ceremony during the university's Spring Convocation.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said earlier in the day. Among other things, "it will bring me back here a lot more often." He is fortunate to have family and friends in both Wolfville and Halifax.

A respected business leader, Galloway succeeds Libby Burnham '60, who stepped aside following a seven-year term as Chancellor. He becomes the first graduate of Acadia's Fred C. Manning School of Business to serve as Chancellor, as well as the first former Acadia student-athlete to fulfil the role.

He played varsity football at Acadia from 1964-1968, playing on both the offensive and defensive lines his first two years before concentrating solely on defense his final two seasons. When Acadia celebrated 50 years of Canadian football in 2006, Galloway was named to the 1960s All-Decade team.

A life journey that saw him retire from a successful career with the Royal Bank of Canada in 1999 as Vice-Chairman of that institution began almost by accident. Growing up, he had never visited Atlantic Canada, and had never heard of Acadia. In the summer of 1964, then-Acadia football coach Neil 'Scorchy' MacVicar visited his high school while on a recruiting trip through Quebec.

"Had he never shown up," Galloway says, "I might never had ended up at Acadia, and my life would likely have been completely different." He terms attending Acadia "a life-changing experience."

He jokes that friend and future roommate Ron Richards was responsible for him attending Acadia. "We were playing touch football, and he mentioned that Acadia had a really good ratio of females to males." Galloway would meet his first wife, who passed away in 2002, while at Acadia.

By the end of August, he recalls, "it was too late to get into Quebec schools. I took a chance, applied to Acadia, and within a day I was accepted out of Grade 11. I turned 17 the end of August, and four days later, I was on my way here."

Acadia was a different place in 1964, both in terms of size and student accommodation. As he had arrived relatively late, "there was no room on campus, so I spent my first two weeks in a couple's attic. Then Ron's roommate had to leave school, and I moved in with him in Horton House."

One day, he and some friends were at the gym, "in the weight room, and coach MacVicar walked in and asked us if we played football. They had an exhibition game against Saint Mary's, and he was looking for players."

Galloway had played some football in high school, but overall, lacked size for the positions he was ultimately asked to play. He jokes, "I was 45 before I got up to real playing weight."

Acadia football, he recalls, "hadn't won a game in two years. My first year, we tied one game and lost the rest. They let MacVicar go and brought in Bill Busching from New Hampshire to coach."

In Galloway's second year, Acadia finished with a 5-2 record. "It was the beginning of football coming to life at Acadia. We had winning teams every year until we graduated in 1968. That year, most of our team ended up graduating," but by then, Acadia's football tradition was becoming well-established.

"The final game we played, we beat Saint Mary's on their field. It was a great way to finish."

The facilities at Acadia weren't great - "we would run out the front door of the gym and onto the field" - and it wasn't a whole lot better on the road. "We had 30-32 guys on the team, and a lot of us went both ways. It's so different now. I can't imagine any university player playing 60 minutes of football today."

For games at Saint Mary's or Dalhousie, "we would change into our uniforms here, then pile into a school bus and drive down the #1 highway to Halifax." After the game it would be the same in reverse.

Asked the biggest differences between football today and when he played, Galloway cited "the size of the players, athletic ability, year-round training and conditioning, and the sophistication of coaching."

In the 1960s, "we had one coach and maybe one assistant. Now they have offensive and defensive coordinators."

In the 1960s, "if you were six feet and 200 pounds, you were big. I was probably about 180 pounds at the end." Moreover, "we played teams like Shearwater and Stadacona. I was a boy barely 17 when I started at Acadia. They were men, some of them in their late 20s."

Galloway had not yet celebrated his 21th birthday when he graduated with a four-year degree. "You grew up faster back then. All the major companies would come to the schools on recruiting trips. Most of us had jobs before we graduated, jobs we could keep."

Galloway acknowledges he 'grew up' at Acadia. "You were exposed to so many different people, and learned how to interact with people. As part of the football team, you learned how to be a team player, and you had to learn quickly. It wasn't so much what we learned as it was the process of learning.

"We still had to go out and face the real world, but the experience we had gained made it easier to do."

Galloway started at the Royal Bank working in the summers while he was a student. He remained there until he retired, rising through the ranks to become Vice-Chairman.

His 're-involvement' with Acadia began in the early 1990s. "I got a call from Harvey Gilmour, a former teammate, who asked me to serve on the Board of Governors and help out with the Acadia Advantage."

He was in a senior position with the RBC at the time, "and had developed a lot of important contacts. Harvey and I criss-crossed the country raising money for the Acadia Advantage program."

He remained on the Board of Governors for 18 years, and when he retired from RBC in 1999, he was able to return to Acadia as Executive in Residence for the School of Business. He played a lead role in fundraising for the renovation of both the School of Business and the athletics complex.

He received an honorary Doctor of Civil Laws degree from Acadia in 2003, and was recognized with Acadia's Distinguished Alumni Award in 2015. All that background resulted in a recommendation from several different people that he let his name be put forward as a candidate for Chancellor.

Galloway's classmate, former roommate and Acadia football teammate Jim Durrell '68 was one of those who recommended Galloway for the position.

"Bruce's appointment is the culmination of a lifetime of giving to Acadia," Durrell says. "Acadia has given a lot to Bruce, and he's been able to give a lot back. He has an intimate knowledge of the school, and of a large cross-section of graduates. He is well suited to lead Acadia through this position."

Galloway says he skis, plays golf and tennis, "but no contact sports. I injured my knee here when I was 19. I ended up going to a vet to have him look at my knee. They taped it up, and a week later, I was playing football again. I've paid for that for the rest of my life." That, he says, is "another big change in university sport today – how far orthopedic diagnosis and surgery has come."

He has always remained physically active "and interested in team sports. I've always followed the teams here, and I'll be doing more of that from now on."

His role in helping fundraise for improvements to the athletic complex has helped him reconnect with the Acadia football program. The new football dressing room was named in his honour.

From 1968 to 1992, he says, "my involvement with Acadia was minimal. It was Harvey Gilmour who got me involved again. When I look back, I thank him for that. It's not something I'd have ever done, or thought of doing, on my own."

The Chancellor appointment "comes at a good time for me," he says. Though he stays busy and active, "in my 71st year, I'm starting to gear down." At the same time, he is "looking forward to a new challenge" that will allow him to both spend time at Acadia and maintain his home in Oakville, ON.