Brindle writing Brock’s history

Ian Brindle

Ian Brindle

Ian Brindle has served many roles at Brock.

He’s been a renowned chemist, and his work is well known in his field. He’s been a senior administrator, spending the past two years as Vice-President Research, a position he officially stepped down from on Aug. 1.

Now he’s serving in a different capacity – as the University’s unofficial historian.

Brindle will spend the next year gathering material for a book documenting the University’s first 50 years. He’s looking for stories from the Brock community and the general public about how the University has affected them.

He wants to hear from alumni, current and retired faculty and community members with unique connections to Brock.

“I want stories that illuminate what Brock did for people and where people from Brock have taken that and made careers for themselves,” he said.

Brindle plans to compile a narrative history of Brock using colourful anecdotes to show some of the characters that have walked its halls. It’s a fitting tribute for a university that has become ingrained in his family, he said.

Brindle graduated from here in 1972 with a masters in Chemistry. He met his wife Jill here, and she is now Learning Services manager in the Student Development Centre. Jill Brindle even had her family coat of arms modified to include a badger.

“I thought it would be a nice project to round out my days at Brock since I’ve been here most of the time,” he said. “Brock’s been very good to me.”

The working title is Undefeated Since 1964, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that Brock hasn’t had a football team since it briefly had one its inaugural year. Brindle’s research dates back to 1962, when the naming committee of Niagara’s new university debated several names for the institution, including Simcoe University, the University of St. Catharines and the University of the Niagara Peninsula. The name Brock University only won by a vote of five to four.

Rather than the dry facts and figures, Brindle wants to capture the human element. A sample story: in the early 1970s, Brock introduced a program that accepted students who had finished Grade 12, when university-bound Ontario students were otherwise expected to complete Grade 13. Students came from across Ontario to stay in residence prior to the start of the academic year. A bunch of teenage girls in the program sneaked out in bikinis late at night and splashed around in the fountains that flanked the entrance of the Schmon Tower.

“The security guard, who was doing his rounds in the wee hours, just said, ‘You’d better head back to residence now,’” Brindle said.

Brindle will assist Gary Libben, the new Vice-President Research, for the remainder of 2011 as he acclimatizes to his new position. Brindle estimates the book project will take him until the end of 2012. He looks forward to the opportunity to do more non-scientific writing.

Coming from working class Manchester, England, Brindle’s career at Brock shows how he transcended the boundaries of class that existed when he was growing up.

He recalls a colleague with a physical disability who spoke at an American Chemistry Society workshop in the early 1980s. The woman described her outlook – “Just give me a chance to fail. Don’t fail me at the starting line.”

“That’s the gift that Brock University and the people here gave me,” he said.

To submit interesting stories and material for the book, email

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One comment on “Brindle writing Brock’s history”

  1. Albert Penner says:

    Dear Mr. Brindle.
    I remember you fondly. I graduated in 1979 with a B. Sc. in chemistry. I’ve been teaching foundational programs at NorQuest College in Edmonton for the past 25 years.
    I remember you as a very organized, knowledgeable yet approachable person. I was very intimated by all the wise people at Brock. My favorite experience was in an undergraduate lab course. One hot-shot young student who knew everything was efficiently working through his lab, when all of a sudden there was a loud explosion and Shawn was neatly invisible inside a white cloud. Instead of panicking, the whole lab, including you, burst into laughter. It couldn’t have happened to a better guy.
    Thanks for everything, Mr. Brindle.
    Twenty-five years later, I still appreciate your caring attitude to all us dumb undergrads.
    Albert Penner
    B. Sc. B. Ed.

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