University Archives & Special Collections, MG 85. (Patrick Hayes)

John Spinks

Pictured here is a young professor John Spinks in his Thorvaldson Building laboratory sometime in the early 1930s.

He went on to become the university’s fourth president, serving from 1959 until 1974, second only to Walter Murray’s 30-year tenure.

Spinks was born Jan. 1, 1908, at Methwold, Norfolk, England, and graduated from the University of London with a B.Sc in 1928 and earned a PhD in 1930. That same year he was hired as an instructor in chemistry at the University of Saskatchewan.

In 1933-34 he took a leave from the university to work with Gerhard Herzberg in Darmstadt, Germany; from 1943-1944 he was an Operational Research Officer for the RCAF, and from 1944-1945, served as a member of the NRC Atomic Research Project in Montreal.

He was appointed head of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Saskatchewan in 1948, and in 1949 was named Dean of Graduate Studies.

In 1955 he was one of five Canadian delegates to the first Geneva Conference on the peaceful uses of atomic energy.

He received a second doctorate from the University of London in 1957 and was made a member of the National Research Council of Canada in 1958. 

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