Barry Moody: 50 years at Acadia, man and boy

Professor Emeritus Barry Moody in a library

By Laura Churchill Duke (’98)

“Acadia has given me so much,” says Barry Moody (’67). “I like to try to give back, but know I will not be able to give as much as it has given me.”

Humble words from a Professor Emeritus in the Department of History and Classics, who retired in 2013 after 50 years on campus, man and boy.

Moody enrolled as a student at Acadia in 1963 after graduating from Kings County Academy in Kentville. Annual tuition then was $400 and Moody says he still has the original receipt! Having grown up as a Baptist, he notes that Acadia was a natural choice for him.

“At that time, Acadia was predominantly a Baptist university and most Baptists tended to go there,” he says. Acadia also had a great reputation for a quality education and that was a key factor in his decision to attend.

Three years after he graduated with a BA (Honours) in History, Moody returned to Acadia as a full-time faculty member. For the previous two years, he had been teaching summer school as a graduate student at Acadia, but 1970 marked his official start at the University.

“I was lucky I came along at the right time for the job market,” he says. Universities then were expanding rapidly and there were many opportunities for young academics.

Over the next 43 years, Moody forged an exemplary career as a member of the History Department (now called History and Classics), serving 10 years as Chair. His last few years at Acadia were spent as acting Dean of Arts.

“I didn’t expect to enjoy being Chair of the Department or Dean as much as I did,” Moody says. “I was sorry to retire because I enjoyed it so much.”

While at Acadia, Moody contributed significantly to the collection and dissemination of information about the history of the institution. Perhaps he is best known for his book, Give Us An A, a project for the University’s 150thanniversary in 1988.

Professor, mentor and friend

University archivist Pat Townsend has known Moody for over 40 years, as a professor, mentor and friend. They have worked together on numerous committees, conferences and research projects, and their interaction has left a lasting impression.

Townsend met Moody in one of his classes and she was struck with his ability to see the potential in his students and a willingness to encourage them to succeed in their endeavours.

“He’s such a humble person, very self-effacing, with a delightful sense of humour,” she adds. “His knowledge of the history of the University is phenomenal. He helped to develop my interest in the University and the Baptist community, and he has a strong belief in the institution.”
Tom Herman, retired Professor Emeritus and former VP Academic at Acadia, says there are few individuals who could claim a greater breadth and depth of understanding, or more abiding love of Acadia, than Barry Moody. Few could claim to have had such a positive impact on three generations of Acadia students.

“It is no accident that he is so widely respected by alumni and colleagues from all quarters of campus,” Herman says.

Since retiring, Moody says he misses the daily routine of going to the office and interacting with students. “They are just as stimulating for us as faculty as we hope we are to them.”

Over five decades on campus, Moody has witnessed many changes, mostly as a result of Acadia’s increase in size.  “When I started,” he says, “there were about 1,000 students. Now there are three times that number.”

As the University grew, so too did the number of faculty and administrative support staff necessary to keep things going. Through it all, Moody says Acadia is still a fantastic place for students to blossom and grow socially and intellectually.

Because Acadia is a small university, there are great opportunities for faculty and students to form relationships. Faculty can identify students’ strengths and weaknesses first-hand and engage them on a higher level.  “This,” he notes, “is the real Acadia advantage.”

Retirement projects

Never one to be idle, Moody is involved in several retirement projects, mostly in the Annapolis Royal area, where he lives. He serves on the board of several museum and historical societies, and is restoring a Georgian period house in Annapolis Royal.

Moody and his wife Sharon (McNamara) Moody (’75) purchased a derelict property across from the Historic Gardens and are returning it to its former glory. You can check out the progress on Moody’s Facebook page, Annapolis Royal House Restoration Project, and watch for details of open house tours.

In his spare time, Moody hopes to write about Acadia’s history, as well as continue working on the history of the Beaubassin region, which is another of his many interests.

Failing that, he says he has over 50 boxes of paper to sort through at the office he keeps at Acadia. “Being an historian, I’ve never thrown anything out!” he says with a chuckle.

Otherwise, he loves spending time with his family, including his wife Sharon (McNamara) Moody (’75) and their two sons, Matthew (’99) and James (’99), and their children.

“Acadia has been a huge part of my life,” Moody says fondly, “and determined my direction in ways I never dreamed of.”


This article was published originally in the fall 2015 edition of the Bulletin and has been edited for this format.

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