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- Neville, William
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William Franklin Wymark Neville was born on September 15, 1940, in Winnipeg Manitoba. Neville attended the University of Manitoba as a student, during which he served as president of the Student’s Union, until 1963, when he received a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree. He went on to read philosophy, politics, and economics at Oxford University as a Commonwealth and Rhodes Scholar. He graduated from Oxford with a B.A. in 1966 and a M.A. in 1971.
After Oxford, Neville became a professor in the departments of politics and history at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. Where he was also a founding member of the Canadian Studies Program.
Neville went on to serve as a research and administrative assistant to the Manitoba Deputy Minister of Labour for several short periods between 1963 and 1965; and in 1969 and 1970 Neville worked with former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker on the Diefenbaker papers in the National Archives.
Neville returned to Manitoba to act as Chief of Staff to provincial Conservative leader, Sidney Spivak (then leader of the Opposition in the Manitoba Legislature), but after a bitter leadership battle, which saw Sterling Lyon emerge as party leader in 1975, and although Neville had the distinction of being the youngest delegate to the leadership convention (which chose John G. Diefenbaker as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party in 1956), Neville decided to pursue an academic career rather than a political one.
However, while Chairman of the Winnipeg Public Library Commission, a battle with City Council over a plan to establish an independent citizen board stirred him to enter civic politics. With the support of the now-disbanded Independent Citizen's Election Committee (ICEC) behind him, Neville won the Tuxedo Heights ward in a 1979 by-election gaining more than four times as many votes as his two independent opponents combined.
Between the years of 1979 and 1989, as a city councillor, Neville chaired two important ad hoc committees on freedom of information and helped to introduce a greater measure of openness to a secretive city government. He rose to become one of the more influential members of council as a member of the powerful Executive Policy Committee from 1980 to 1982 and again from 1983 to 1986, when he voluntarily withdrew. In late 1988 he removed himself further from the decision-making centre by leaving the city's informal ruling caucus, the Independent Caucus, after a disagreement over the urban limit line against development. He was re-elected by acclamation in 1980 and 1983 and in a contested election in 1986 Neville represented the ward until his withdrawal from politics in 1989.
Neville also taught at the University of Manitoba as an Associate Professor in Political Studies from 1976 until his retirement in 2005. He has also been Assistant to the Vice-President (1976-1982), University Coordinator of Canadian Studies (1978-1982), Assistant to the President (1982-1996), Head of the Department of Political Studies, and Acting Head of Native Studies. Following his retirement in 2005, Neville was named a Senior Scholar in political studies.
During his time as city councillor, Neville also chaired the city’s Historic Buildings Committee (1980-1989), later serving as chair of the Manitoba Heritage Council (1989-2001), and as the Manitoba member of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (1996-2004).
In 2001, Neville received the Dr. and Mrs. Ralph Campbell Award for University Outreach for "Enlarging and enriching relations between the University and the community". In 2002, he was awarded the Lieutenant-Governor's Medal for Excellence in Public Administration “in recognition for over 40 years of distinctive leadership in public administration" (selected by the Manitoba Branch of the Institute of Public Administration in Canada). He twice received Heritage Winnipeg's distinguished Service Award, and in 2006, he received the Gabrielle Leger Award, presented by the Heritage Canada Foundation "for services to the nation in the field of heritage conservation".
Currently, Neville is the author of a number of essays, chapters in various books, has written extensively for the Winnipeg Free Press and other periodicals, and is an occasional broadcast commentator on political issues for CBC Radio and Television.