BADER, Alfred

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Chancellor:

We have all heard the term “Renaissance Man,” used to describe a person of many talents, of many pursuits, of many interests...a person driven by a fascination with all of the world’s wonders.

Of course, Renaissance people are a rare breed, especially in modern society, with its penchant for specialization. Today, however, we have the privilege of honouring a true “Renaissance Man.” And given his extensive knowledge of fine art, his standing as a brilliant man of science, and his reputation for giving—and giving generously—the title is especially apt!

L’histoire personnelle d’Alfred Bader est un modèle de ténacité. Né en 1924 à Vienne, en Autriche, il est à peine âgé de 14 ans lorsque sa famille l’envoie à Londres, en 1938, pour le soustraire aux persécutions nazies. La Seconde Guerre mondiale commencera peu après. Parce qu’il est Autrichien, il est fiché comme étranger ennemi et déporté au Canada… directement dans un camp d’internement.

Mais il en faut davantage pour freiner l’envol d’un tel « esprit universel ». À sa sortie du camp, en 1941, le jeune Alfred tourne résolument son regard vers l’avenir et entreprend des études en génie chimique à l’Université Queen’s. Heureuse coïncidence, la guerre prend fin – finalement – en 1945, l’année où il décroche son diplôme et entre à Harvard. Il quittera cette université cinq ans plus tard, doctorat en main.

But no Renaissance man would leave things at that: Alfred Bader, doctor of chemistry, would leave his next mark as a captain of industry; he founded the Aldrich Chemical Company. Today, it goes by the name of Sigma-Aldrich Corporation. It has 6800 employees and operates in 25 countries around the world.

As if a foray into the world of entrepreneurship in the early 1950s wasn’t enough, Dr. Bader would open another exciting new chapter of his life at almost the same time: he bought his first Old Master painting. The operative word here is “first,” because his appreciation for fine art became a life’s mission and led him to establish Alfred Bader Fine Arts in 1962. His venture—a labour of love really—has earned an international reputation and has sold works to world-renowned museums like The Getty in Los Angeles, the National Gallery of Scotland, and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Since then, Dr. Bader—the self-styled “Chemist Collector”—has curated special exhibits, has won wide acclaim as an engaging art lecturer and has been named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

La richesse de la collection d’œuvres d’art d’Alfred Bader n’a d’égal que l’extrême générosité de ce chimiste au cœur d’artiste.

Alfred et son épouse Isabel – une compagne qui partage sa passion pour l’art et sa passion de donner – ont créé des fonds de dotation importants pour soutenir l’avancement des sciences et des arts aux États-Unis, au Canada et au Royaume-Uni.

L’un des grands bénéficiaires de la philanthropie des Bader est son alma mater, l’Université Queen’s. Le couple Bader a fait don de chefs-d’œuvre au Centre d’art Agnes Etherington de cette université, et on leur doit aussi la création de la Chaire Bader en chimie organique, de la Chaire Bader en art baroque et de la bourse de recherche Alfred-Bader. Pour couronner le tout, et dans la plus pure tradition des mécènes d’antan, ils ont même cédé à l’université un château du XVe siècle, en Angleterre, pour y établir un centre d’études internationales.

Nazi-era survivor, chemist magnate, art connoisseur, lecturer, philanthropist—no wonder Alfred Bader has been recognized with a bevy of awards and honours, including one that seems especially befitting: the prestigious Charles Lathrop Parsons Award for outstanding public service, presented by the American Chemical Society.

Today, we add another tribute.

Chancellor, it is for these reasons that, in the name of the Senate of the University of Ottawa, I present to you, for the degree of Doctor of the University, Alfred Bader, whose life shows what can be achieved when one uses mind, heart and soul in equal measure.

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