Retired police officer, 79, will be oldest graduate at UofT convocation
Clive Davies, 79, calls university 'a totally different ballgame' after decades-long absence
If you're looking for some inspiration to tackle that project you keep putting off, look no further than retired Toronto police officer Clive Davies. At age 79, he will be the oldest among the 13,000 students graduating from the University of Toronto on Friday.
Davies began his degree in the 1970s but his schooling got sidelined by the shift work that's a hallmark of a police officer's career.
"It was just impossible," he told CBC's Metro Morning on Thursday about the prospect of staying in school.
"It was disappointing at the time, but it was the only possible decision."
Eventually, friends persuaded him to return to school to complete his history degree.
"Going back I found it was a totally different ballgame. Technology has taken over education," Davies said, noting that when he was first a student, he wrote his essays on a Remington typewriter.
Now, students take notes and complete homework on laptops or tablets, and professors communicate with students via email.
"Profs themselves are very tech-y these days, it's essential for them, but it's also very efficient," Davies said.
"And communication is so much more complete than just one man standing in front of a class and everybody taking handwritten notes."
'I'm a totally different person'
As Davies began his police career but was still a student, he found it difficult to relate to academics and peers who drifted to the left of the political spectrum.
"Being a police officer, I was pretty much to the right of the political spectrum," Davies said.
But things were a bit different the second time around
"I'm a totally different person not only from when I started but from when I went back in recent years," Davies said. "I found going back I related better to my fellow students even though they were 50 years younger in many cases."
He has been left with not only some new friends — he keeps in touch with a couple of his classmates — but also "an immense sense of pride."
"I'm graduating with honours from one of the greatest universities of the world, something Toronto should be very proud of, and it gives me tremendous satisfaction," he said.
University graduation typically marks the end of one chapter of a young person's life and the beginning of a new chapter. Asked what comes next for a retiree of 79, Davies replied:
"That's a good question. I'm looking for southern Ontario university in desperate need of an elderly masters candidate."