Dr. Murray Scharf is retiring from the U of S, and I will miss having him around. He’s a friend and trusted colleague, and we’ve navigated some waters together over the past several years. He’s one of the brightest and most dedicated educators I’ve ever known, and I’m guessing several of you know him and hold him in high regard. Here is the tribute that was written in the program at his fourth retirement gig last night — there was a packed house at the Sheraton Cavalier.
“Love” – “Trust” – and – “Pixie Dust”
Murray Scharf was born in Neudorf, Saskatchewan. His family moved to Saskatoon in 1941 where he attended Buena Vista School and Nutana Collegiate for his elementary and high school education. He earned his Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Education, and Master of Education degrees from the University of Saskatchewan and his Doctorate in Educational Administration from the University of Alberta. Murray taught in the Edmonton Public school system prior to joining the Department of Educational Administration faculty at the University of Saskatchewan in 1967.
Dr. Scharf served as Head of the Department of Educational Administration for three years (1982-1985) and Dean of the College of Education for ten years (1986-1996). Since 1996, he has been a professor of Educational Administration, College of Education.
During his academic career, Dr. Scharf has delivered numerous lectures throughout Saskatchewan and elsewhere on issues related to governance, aboriginal education, rural education, restructuring, teacher education and school leadership. He is well known for his lively, challenging and creative ideas on contemporary issues critical to Saskatchewan communities.
Murray has always seen himself as a teacher first. His interests in governance, finance and rural education found expression in his teaching and his graduate student advisement. He continues to be sought by students for his considerable insight into educational issues.
In these and other capacities, Dr. Scharf has provided exemplary leadership. In 1985, he initiated the creation of the Saskatchewan Educational Leadership Unit (SELU), a provincial interagency vehicle to support curriculum reform in the province. Murray continues to be a strong supporter of SELU and currently holds the position of Director. In 1996, through his leadership, the first National Congress on Rural Education Canada was held in Saskatoon. The Congress continues to be a premier event for those interested in Rural Education and draws up to 600 delegates from across the country.
During his career, he has conducted numerous research studies that have impacted upon policy and practice in Saskatchewan school systems. In 1974, he completed a study on Declining Rural Population and Implications for Rural Education. This became the authoritative statement on the condition of rural schools. A second and more influential contribution came in 1991, with the release of the School Finance and Governance Review (Scharf/Langlois Report) that was commissioned by the Government of Saskatchewan. Though, controversial at the time, many of recommendations in the report that were questioned have come to fruition with our current provincial school division restructuring.
Murray has received many honours and appointments over the years. He has received the University of Saskatchewan Award For Distinction in Extension and Public Service, the 125 Medal from the government for work in rural education, the SCEA’s Administrator of the Decade Award and an honorary life membership in the International Congress on Education for Teaching, an UNESCO affiliated organization.
Although Murray has had a remarkable career and has received numerous awards for service, he would be first to say that Marj and his family take precedence over any of his academic accomplishments. He married Marj Galloway in 1961. They lived in Saskatoon during most of their married life and have made many connections with the community. Murray and Marj have five children who possess many of the same qualities that made both of them so successful in life. The children are Linda (Kelowna), Eleanor (Belgium), Forrest (Brooks), Robert (Saskatoon) and Maureen (Calgary).
Murray has been an integral part in the life of the Saskatoon community. Murray has served as President of the Saskatoon Rotary Club, President of the United Services Institute of Saskatoon, President of the Saskatoon Coop Association and Chair of the North Saskatchewan Division of the Canadian Corps. of Commissionaires.
He has many and varied interests that take him in several different directions. He has a deep interest in farming and hopes to spend more time on the farm in the Melfort area during his retirement. With his talents, his contribution to Saskatchewan agriculture could be as extensive as that in education.