Walker Receives Honorary Doctorate from Briercrest

Posted: April 6, 2011

By Julie Cole

Photo by Rob Schellenberg.

Keith Walker's integrity and devotion to people and education have earned him an honorary docorate from Briercrest College and Seminary.

Walker will be bestowed an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree at the graduation ceremonies April 21.

Walker has been an educator in a variety of contexts for the last 35 years. The last two decades have been at the University of Saskatchewan where he is a professor in the Department of Education Administration and the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy.

"Keith Walker is a mentoring educator who invests deeply in people and community," Briercrest President Dwayne Uglem said."He has invested his life in the preparation of educators-modeling a deep interest in the child, the student, and the leader at each step of his own life as an educator."

Ellery Pullman, Briercrest professor of psychology and education leadership has worked with Walker in a variety of settings. He describes Walker as a"man of devotion" who consistently"exemplifies the essence of integrity and authentic living."

Walker says he's"awestruck" by the honour.

"I kind of don't get it, basically, but I'm honoured by it," Walker said humbly."I love the work of Briercrest. It's an absolute honour to be in any way associated with the legacy and also the vision of Briercrest for the future. I have lots of people (at Briercrest) who I care for and am a cheerleader for."

The educator's journey to his current post at the University of Saskatchewan has unfolded one opportunity at a time.

"I wanted to be a physical educator," Walker said."I was heavily involved in YMCA through my elementary and high school days and then went off to university to pursue that and did."

Besides obtaining a physical education degree from the University of Alberta, he also completed an education degree from the U of S and two post graduate degrees.

Throughout his career, Walker taught and coached in public schools, founded a preschool, directed an adult laity school of ministry, and done extensive research in leadership and educational administration.

"I never applied for a job until the university job," Walker confessed. "I hadn't even defended my doctorate at that time, but I guess for whatever reason in the providence of God they decided to hire me. I've been there ever since."

Walker attributes much of his success to the mentors and"vital friendships" he has had along the way. One of these mentors is Walter Boldt, his former pastor in Saskatoon, Sask.

"One of the first times I was at Briercrest-years ago, maybe-was when (Boldt) got his honorary doctorate there," Walker recalled."Walter took me on as a mentor and a staff person at Circle Drive Alliance Church many years ago. He continues to be a marvelous mentor."

Walker saves special praise for his wife and children.

"My wife is probably my No. 1 long-standing mentor for the last-we're coming up to 30 years," he stated, adding that his kids have been his mentors"in ways that are unbelievable."

Although Walker spends much of his time in university/academic settings, he insists that he has always been a"declarative Christian" in his work as well as his teaching and mentoring of others.

"I've chosen areas in humanities and social sciences . . . that very easily and overtly relate to my faith in ways that are entirely legitimate," he insisted."And I've never had a problem with that."

Walker was open about his values during his interview for his current post at the U of S.

"I was asked, ‘What can you bring to the Department of Education Administration?'" he recounted."I said then-and I would say the same thing now-I'm interested in leadership ethics. I'm interested in the private, spiritual lives of leaders, and I'm interested in pastoral care for leaders and by leaders. And they still hired me. That really constitutes my research agenda and my writing agenda."

This same agenda is echoed in the legacy Walker says he wishes to leave behind.

"I would like to hear, ‘Well done good and faithful servant,'" he said. "It would be most gratifying if there were people all over the world who would call me friend and (think of me as)someone who had added even just a bit to their lives. That would be a great thing. Most fundamentally, if each of our four children and their children and grandchildren would bless my memory-that would be great."