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Convocation 2013: a family affair

Marden Paul, Jeremy Bubbers, his father, Geoffrey Bubbers (at rear), William Paul, and Lissa Paul

While it’s not unusual for multiple generations of family members to attend a graduand’s convocation, it’s not too often that they all end up on the dais.

Such was the case at the University College Convocation at the University of Toronto June 17, when three generations of the Paul family participated in the august ceremonies.

When UC student Jeremy Bubbers stepped up to receive his Bachelor of Arts degree, grandfather William Paul, mother Lissa Paul, and uncle Marden Paul each had a front-row seat thanks to their roles in the academic procession. All the Pauls are U of T alumni: William Paul attended University College and graduated with his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1941 and his PhD  U of T in 1948. Lissa Paul attended Victoria College at U of T and graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1975 before going on to earn a PhD at York University in 1984. Marden Paul attended U of T's New College and graduated with his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1984.

William is a Professor Emeritus in Clinical Biochemistry at U of T who was part of a group credited with initiating nuclear medicine; Lissa is a Professor in the Faculty of Education at Brock University and a renowned expert in children’s literature; and Marden is the Director of Planning, Governance, Assessment and Communications in the Office of the Chief Information Officer at U of T.

Along with William’s other daughter, Sarah Israela Paul, who received her bachelor's degree from the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering at U of T in 1990 and her master's in 1992, and newly minted alumnus Jeremy, they represent three generations of U of T graduates.

“There was never any question, our kids were going to U of T,” says William, who kept a laboratory in the historic Banting Institute for 33 years and whose late wife, Ena, held a law degree from U of T.

“A household of knowledge and learning and books inspired all of us to appreciate education,” says Marden of his parents’ influence.

The family, based in Toronto’s The Annex, has always been close to the University—literally and philosophically. “Everything about our lives has been connected to U of T,” says Lissa.

“It was great hearing stories about the University in the 1930s and 40s from my grandfather, and knowing that so much of my family has wandered the same halls that I have,” says Jeremy. “Having most of my family on stage for convocation was incredible. It was a slightly surreal feeling, knowing more people on stage than in the audience.”

The philosophy and history graduate’s next steps include travelling to Vietnam in September and a potential career as a chef, an interest he discovered during a five-month volunteer stint in Kenya.

Yvonne Palkowski is a writer with University College at the University of Toronto.