Mastery for Service Award

Every five years, Macdonald honours an individual who has provided "outstanding contributions to the Macdonald community as demonstrated by a commitment and dedication to the Campus which has added immeasurably to the quality of the institution, its programs and student life". The award is open to all, faculty or staff, active or retired, alumni and friends.

2020 Recipient: Mr. Peter Knox, Facilities Management

Peter Knox honoured at Founder's Day with the Macdonald Mastery for Service Award
Image by Tom DiSandolo.

Dean Anja Geitmann, Peter Knox, Paul Meldrum

CITATION - written and presented by Paul Meldrum, Manager Macdonald Campus Farm

I have the very pleasant task of introducing the winner of the Mastery for Service Award. The name of this award is pretty much self-explanatory, but let me give you the official definition of “Mastery for Service”:

“First, it is the complete Mastery of the Self for Service – the Mastery of the Mental processes; the Mastery of the Powers of the body, the Mastery of Emotions and the Mastery of Passions. Second it is the Mastery of the world for Service, that being service in any sphere in which one finds life."

Pretty lofty ideals. To put it in today’s terms, it simply means you make yourself a better person, and then you dedicate your life to making the world a better place, starting with your own community. In this case, we are talking about our Macdonald community.

So important and prestigious is this award that it is only given out every five years. It is pretty much the highest honour at Macdonald Campus. So I am thrilled to tell you that the latest recipient of the Mastery for Service Award is Peter Knox.

Now, those of us who work at Macdonald Campus are quite familiar with Peter, but I would hazard a guess that most of you who are students don’t have a clue who this guy is. So I will give you a brief snapshot. Peter’s first connection with Mac was as a student back in those ancient times called the late 1960s and early 70s – that’s pre-cell phone, pre-internet, pre-Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat, X-Box – well you get the picture, and if you took a picture back then, it would have been with a film camera. I would be lying if I said Peter was an exemplary student in terms of academics – let’s just say he embraced all that it means to be a student. Peter did make the Dean’s list, but this list did not come with any rewards! Someone, in their wisdom, made Peter a residence Warden in Brittain Hall – that’s like putting the fox in charge of the hen house – but if you think about it, it wasn’t that crazy after all. If you put someone in charge who knows all of the tricks, then no one can pull a fast one on him.

But I also think the position of responsibility gave Peter a purpose, straightened him out if you will, and he did graduate in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife and Conservation. And after graduation,…. well, he never left! Peter immediately took a job as a lab supervisor at McGill’s Dairy Herd Analysis Service, now known as Lactanet.

Three years later he became Supervisor of Campus Services, which included Security (imagine that!), the Post Office, and grounds. I believe it is at this point that the love affair with Macdonald really started to heat up. Making this place function efficiently and making it look beautiful became Peter’s raison d’être. When the roads and parking lots were cleared of snow long before the students and staff arrived, it was because of Peter and his crew. The beautiful lawns, the flower beds, shrubs and trees, the walkways, the benches, crosswalks, lighting and other safety measures – that has all been accomplished through the vision of Peter Knox.

Peter was there to ensure things went smoothly at special events, year after year, from this very Founder’s Day Celebration to Convocation.

It didn’t matter if you were a professor, grad student, farm worker or administrator, if you needed something that Peter could supply, he would help you out – things like a backhoe to dig a hole, research equipment to install, an enclosure put up, a roadway repaired, flowers, or decorations for an event, memorabilia for Homecoming – it was one stop shopping – just call Peter. He was literally on call 24-7, weekends and holidays notwithstanding. He was instrumental in bringing composting and recycling to Mac, he helped the students’ societies with their events, volunteered to help with alumni events and worked like a man possessed with the class of '63 alumni to have the roadways on the northern entrance to our campus lined with trees. Every where you look on this campus, you can find Peter’s stamp. He treated Macdonald like it was his own – he cared about this place, and the people who work and study here – still does.

His participation went beyond what you see on the grounds - he was also heavily involved behind the scenes in just about every aspect of running Macdonald. He either chaired or was a member of the Safety committee, the Environment committee; the Facilities, Founder’s Day, Remembrance Day, Homecoming, and Gold Key Awards committees, and the 75th and 100th Anniversary committees – I think he was on more committees than the Dean! In fact, due to his 50 years at Mac, you could almost refer to Peter as the “de facto Dean”.

His efforts and dedication have not gone unnoticed: he has received the McGill Alumni Distinguished Service Award, the David Johnston Award for fundraising at McGill, the Macdonald Campus Award of Excellence for Administrative and Support Staff, and the Mac Spirit Award. And now, just one year after his retirement, Peter’s unparalleled contribution to Macdonald is being crowned with the biggest jewel of them all, the Mastery for Service Award.

Please join me in recognizing and thanking the 2020 recipient of the Mastery for Service Award, Mr. Peter Knox.


2015            Mr. Serge Lussier

2010            Professor David Lewis

2005            Mr. Marcel Couture

2000            Ms. Janet Finlayson

1995            Emeritus Professor Robert Broughton

1990            Mr. Rudi Dallenbach

1985            Emeritus Professor Helen Neilson

1980            Emeritus Professor William Rowles

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