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Celebrating the Life of Dr. Robert (Rob) Shea

by CACEE , posted on May 28, 2024

It is with the heaviest of hearts and minds that we join his family, friends, and the career development and student affairs community in their grief over the loss of Dr. Robert (Rob) Shea.

Over 30 years ago, Rob attended his first national conference of ACCIS - The Graduate Workforce Professionals, the precursor to the nationally and internationally recognized Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers (CACEE) of today. At that conference, Rob stepped forward to be the first chair of the Atlantic Region of ACCIS and so began his legacy of unwavering support and championing of CACEE.

He contributed to the stewardship and transition from ACCIS to CACEE, served as chair of the Atlantic Regional Advisory Board and a Director on the CACEE National Board of Directors for many years, and in 2001 was the co-chair of the CACEE National Conference where he proudly welcomed hundreds of colleagues form across Canada to St. John's, Newfoundland. He has also been a part of multiple committees, working groups, and a keynote and frequent speaker at CACEE conferences and events.

His passion for CACEE and the sector was infectious and he introduced many a colleague to what it meant to be a part of our professional community. Not surprisingly, Rob's tireless commitment saw him recognized with the association's highest honours including the Cupples Cup (1999) which is awarded at the National Conference to a delegate who exemplifies Vim, Vigour, and Vitality, and the Moe Ktytor Award of Merit (2014).

And, in 2009, he established the Rob Shea Research Award which recognizes outstanding research in the areas of career education, the transition to post-secondary study to career, and early talent acquisition. The recipients of which are some of Canada's most recognized leaders in the field and through whom his love of and commitment to evidence-based practice will live on.

Rob's contributions to career education and student affairs, extended well beyond CACEE. He was President of several national and international organizations (including the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS) and was the founding board chair of CERIC). He also served as the founding editor of the Canadian Journal of Career Development in association with Memorial University where he held multiple leadership positions and was as an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education.

While Rob's professional accolades are abundant, perhaps amongst his most enduring legacies will be his capacity to bring people together, hold space for meaningful connections, and inspire. 

Whether in a 2-minute collision conversation or a 2-hour presentation, Rob had an innate ability to listen, make people feel welcome, engage in thoughtful dialogue, infuse a healthy dose of humour, collaborate, and mentor. He truly prioritized people, was always present, and engaged in each interaction with care - leaving everyone he came in contact with feeling valued and a little better for it.

The whole of the CACEE community is holding Rob's family and friends in our thoughts as they navigate this loss together. While we grieve, we also celebrate his life and express our gratitude for his impact. You are invited to sign this virtual card expressing condolences and remembrances which will be shared with his family.

A donation is being made to the Parkinson Society of Newfoundland and Labrador in Rob's memory and accordance with his wishes. The Executive of the CACEE National Board of Directors has also been in touch with those closest to Rob to coordinate additional ways to honour his legacy, including ensuring the continuance of the Rob Shea Research Award. Additional details will follow in the days ahead.