Skip to content

Dennis Tupman receives Honorary Doctor of Laws

Dennis Tupman sings Row, Row, Row Your Boat while accepting Honorary Doctor of Laws
Honorary Doctor of Laws recipient Dennis Tupman and his daughter

University of Victoria (UVic) honoured local arts advocate Dennis Tupman during its convocation ceremonies on Nov. 9.

He received an Honorary Doctor of Laws for the lifelong part he has played as an educator in the field of music and as a role model for teachers, administrators and communities for the defence of the value of arts in the community.

Tupman taught music, English and math in Kitimat from 1957 to 1971 before accepting the role of district principal for the performing arts on the Vancouver school board.

He has served as president of the B.C. Music Educators Association, the Canadian Music Educators Association, and the B.C. Choral Federation and has adjudicated numerous music festivals throughout the province.

He has also been the recipient of the Governor General's Award for Lifetime Arts Leadership and is an Honorary Life Member in the Canadian Music Educator's Association, and an Honorary Life Member of the BC Choral Federation.

In a recent statement, UVic regarded Tupman as Canada's greatest ambassador and advocate for music education.

Gordon Hoglund, 100 Mile & District Arts Council president, says he was pleased to hear the news and confirms Tupman has been very active locally with Eclectica Community Choir, a church choir, a theatre group and with a community band.

"We know it is difficult to quantify the impact the arts have on a community. In a world where wealth tends to be measured in money, we often overlook the fact that arts and cultural activities transform us emotionally and spiritually and greatly enhance the quality of our lives.

"As his awards attest, his impacts have been felt well beyond our local community."

Tupman says he would rather not have the focus put on him, but instead on the issues that have driven him for much of his professional and retired life.

"What I have really been doing is advocating for children's education. Curriculum has become what you can measure easily, which is reading, writing and math.

"The arts are nowhere. The focus has to be in kids getting a good education, which includes arts and other subjects not being supported well by the testing program."

Emotional intelligence and literacy is a big thing in education and it's ignored in testing and it harms children and schools, he says, adding that's not education.

I've made it my life's goal to do something about it and it's been a heck of a good trip."

Staying true to his ideals, Tupman says he found a way to incorporate a musical message into his acceptance speech at the UVic convocation ceremony. He started out by singing the childhood classic often used in elementary school, "Good Morning to You," and rolled right into "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," as a statement of purpose.

"Everyone sang and they got the message."