Dean Emeritus (1975 – 1984)

A native of BC, Warren D Kitts was raised in North Vancouver, BC as well as in Moricetown, BC, in the Buckley Valley area. After service in the Royal Canadian Air Force during WWII, he completed a BSA in 1947 at UBC and an MSA in Animal Science in 1949. Following a period with the Defense Research Board and BC Research Council, he entered graduate school at Iowa State University, where he received a PhD in Chemistry (majoring in Biophysical Chemistry) in 1953.

Dr Kitts joined the UBC Department of Animal Husbandry later that year. In 1965 he was named Professor, in 1967 Chairman of the Department of Animal Science and in 1968 he was named Chairman of the Department of Poultry Science as well. After holding both positions Dr Kitts became Dean of the Faculty in 1976, leading 58 faculty members in seven departments. His appointment followed a year-long search for a Dean after Dean Michael Shaw became UBC Vice President of University Development in 1975.

During Dean Kitts’ tenure new programs such as Landscape Architecture and Cooperative Education were introduced; the Faculty grew; and there was a renewed emphasis on continuing education and extension. It was his strong contention that, in addition to excellence in teaching and research, communication between the university and agribusiness, government and producer sections of the agriculture industry as well as the non-agricultural public needed to be strong if the Faculty was to remain viable and relevant. He believed that the Faculty must diversify from teaching and research only at the University to teaching and consultation throughout the agricultural industry and province. As a result, the Faculty took steps in this direction by offering courses in various disciplines to the non-agricultural public and by organizing seminars for industry personnel. Dean Kitts took part in these activities and became a familiar figure at seminars and farm management courses throughout the province. In outlining his perceived role of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Dean Kitts described it as follows: “To interpret the findings in the physical, biological, environmental and social sciences in terms of their agricultural application. In fulfilling this role, the Faculty undertakes teaching, research and continuing education responsibilities. These three activities are complementary and indeed indivisible.” In recognition of his activities in extension Dean Kitts was elected to a life membership of the Pacific National Exhibition and membership of the Board of Directors.

As well as carrying a heavy administrative load, Dean Kitts taught a number of courses, had an active research program, served on a number of prestigious committees (including Senate), accepted a number of international assignments, and had a busy schedule of speaking engagements. A well-known expert in animal nutrition and physiology, he had a particular interest in applied animal production studies, animal endocrinology and enzymology, and animal waste studies. Several of his projects were concerned with the problem of phytoestrogens in alfalfa. He served as President of the Canadian Society of Animal Science and in 1974 was elected a Fellow of the Agricultural Institute of Canada in recognition of his contributions to Canadian agriculture. Other recognition of his services to agriculture and animal science included membership of Phi Lamba Upsilon (Honorary Chemical Society); BC Institute of Agrologists; New York Academy of Sciences; Council for Agriculture Science & Technology; Canadian Seed Growers Association and Sigma Tau (Honorary Agriculture Society). In addition he was elected to Honorary Life Membership of the UBC Faculty Association; he received various citations from the Board of Governors and the Senate and he participated in World Food Day activities organized by the Canadian and BC governments.

Dr Kitts retired as Dean in 1984 after an association of some 40 years with UBC and was named Dean and Professor Emeritus. Dean Emeritus Blythe Eagles presented the following tribute at his retirement luncheon on July 7, 1984, encapsulating the high regard in which Warren Kitts was held by his academic colleagues.

“This afternoon, Violet and I have a very personal pleasure being with you as this gathering of friends pays tribute to and honours Warren and Eileen. It has been an exciting experience meeting old and new friends.

Our thoughts involuntarily go back to the days, now upwards of forty years ago, when Warren was a freshman in Agriculture and Eileen was secretary to Dean Clement. Dr Klinck, the first Dean of Agriculture, was president of the university and Dr McKechnie was its Chancellor. I have a story that I can’t resist telling on an occasion such as this. Dean Clement as Deans sometimes do had a very ticklish problem for which a decision had to be taken. He came out of his office and asked Eileen’s advice. Her reply was “Dean Clement, you didn’t hire me to think”.

As its fifth dean, Warren has had the unique experience of personal friendship with each of his predecessors. Not many of you may appreciate the very close relationship that existed between Dr Klinck and Warren. In many ways, but particularly in the Emersonian sense, Warren is a mirror and reflected image of Dr Klinck.

It is now 80 years since Dr Klinck completed his graduate studies in Genetics and Plant breeding at Iowa State College of Agriculture from which, some 16 years later in 1920, on the occasion of its semi-centennial, he was one of a select group of distinguished graduates to receive its highest award, Doctor of Science Honoris Causa. Some 33 years later, Warren completed his studies for a PhD degree at Iowa State and returned to his Alma Mater as an Assistant Professor in Animal Science. I recall many occasions on which I had the privilege and pleasure of listening in when Dr Klinck and Warren met at Agriculture gatherings and engaged in animated discussion on Agricultural education. They enjoyed their common heritage and understood fully the significance of the motto of Iowa State Science with practice and tuum est our motto it is yours it’s up to you was never far from their minds. Their discussions were down-to-earth and always dealt with fundamentals. They weren’t living in the past but the past was very much alive in them.

As his undergraduate record shows, Warren was an outstanding student in the basic sciences and the diversity of his agriculture background is revealed by the breadth of his selection of courses in Agriculture in which he also did first quality work. In addition to his required courses in Animal Science, Warren pursued studies in poultry science, agronomy, and in agricultural economics under Dean Clement.

Throughout his long career as Professor and Dean, Warren has attempted to maintain a balanced relationship between teaching, research and extension, and to keep the curriculum in tune with advances in knowledge. He has been instrumental in securing appropriations for buildings and equipment, and has encouraged and inspired a new concept of interest in the welfare of students and a pride in the accomplishments of those who graduated under him.

As you leave, we know that what you have done for the Faculty and the University will live in the hearts of your students. You have lengthened Dean Klinck’s shadow. Violet joins me in wishing you and Eileen the very best and that your years of retirement will be happy, healthy, creative and fruitful.”

Dr. Kitts passed away in September 2012. Mrs Eileen Kitts resides in Delta, BC. Their son, Dr David Kitts (Professor of Food Science), continues the Kitts name in the Faculty.

R Blair 2012 from UBC archives