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Distinguished service awards honour the best of UTSC

PATRICK PHILLIPS AWARD: Staff members Mariam Aslam (left) and Scott Durisac (right) are congratulated by Principal Franco Vaccarino (centre) after winning the Patrick Phillips Award for outstanding service and commitment to UTSC. For more photos from the Celebration of Distinguished Service, click on the link in the story. (Photos by Ken Jones.)

by Mary Ann Gratton

Sunshine and blue skies brought many smiling faces in the UTSC community outside on a perfect spring day to attend the Celebration of Distinguished Service. The luncheon and ceremony, held under a crisp white tent on the grounds of the scenic Miller Lash House, recognized the recipients of numerous awards. For more photos of the event, click here.

Many members of the campus community said they enjoyed the chance to mark the achievements and milestones of staff and faculty while basking in the balmy weather.

Special awards demonstrating commitment to the campus community were presented, along with awards for teaching, research, support of accessibility, long years of service, and retirees.

Professor Franco Vaccarino, principal of U of T Scarborough, hosted the ceremony. “This event is one of the highlights of the year for me because it’s an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments and milestones of all the people who play an important role in moving our campus forward,” he said.

Twenty-five year service employees honoured were: Simon John Fraser (physical and environmental sciences); Thomas Mohr (academic printing and custom publishing services); Vassos Hadzilacos and Paul Selick (computer and mathematical sciences, or CMS); John Scherk (CMS and dean’s office); Aysan Sev’er (social sciences); and Julian Tanner (social sciences).

Retirees being honoured were: Michael Bunce (social sciences); Modris Eksteins (humanities); Marie Gerrard (registrar’s office); John Kennedy (psychology); Eric Mendelsohn (CMS); Michal Schonberg (humanities); Elizabeth Seres (library); Aysan Sev’er (social sciences); Maggy Stepanian (business and administration office); Dudley Williams (biological sciences); and Kersti Wain-Bantin (CMS).

AccessAbility awards honoured members of the UTSC community who have demonstrated commitment and dedication to issues of accessibility on campus, including two individual awards and one group award. The first individual award went to Tanya Gupta, a third-year student in integrative biology and mental health studies. A volunteer on the note-taking outreach team, she was described as “taking a keen interest in advocating for the rights of individuals with disabilities…and making everything as inclusive as possible.” The second individual AccessAbility award went to Michael Petrini, a third-year philosophy and political science student, who served as a mentor in the Learning Disability Transition Program for first-year students and a panelist on the transition from high school to university team. He was described as someone with “an outstanding drive to address attitudinal barriers, raise awareness about disability issues, foster accessible learning environments and create physically accessible spaces.”

The AccessAbility group award went to the department of AccessAbility Services, including Tina Doyle, Colleen Reid, Michelle Castaneda, Cheryl Lepard, Jennifer Anthony, Khadijia Uddin, Christina Stanley and Joanne Terakita. At the event, Tom Nowers, dean of student affairs, said that “under the inspired leadership of Tina Doyle, this team has grown into a compassionate leading-edge service and a point of campus pride for dedication and tireless efforts to ensure that all students have every opportunity to succeed.” He noted that at a recent conference of the provincial Inter-University Disability Issues Association (IDIA), one delegate told him that UTSC’s team members were considered leaders in the accessibility field across the province, and their processes were a model for other organizations.

Principal’s Awards were presented to various individuals within the campus community in recognition of excellence in teaching, research and staff service. The Patrick Phillips Award for outstanding service and commitment by a staff member resulted in a tie this year. Mariam Aslam, an academic advisor in the Academic Advising and Career Centre, was one of the two recipients, and was described as thriving on “being challenged and understanding the importance of her role in helping students…someone who displays competence, commitment and concern for others on a routine basis” who demonstrates a strong work ethic, humility, enthusiasm and professionalism. Both students and staff described her “dedication and compassion for students, her contributions to programming and advocacy for women’s issues and disability services.” The second recipient was Scott Dutrisac, tehnical director for the Leigha Lee Browne Theatre, who was lauded as “an expert in his field with a high level of knowledge and professionalism” who has played a key role in the development and success of the theatre. He was described as “a problem-solver at heart,” who has made many contributions to art and cultural events. He has “shared his expertise with students and someone who has become an integral part of our campus community through his dedication to the arts and his desire to create a sense of uniqueness at UTSC.”

The D.R. Campbell Merit Award for a person who enhances the quality of life on the campus went to student Imran Khan, a former chair of the board of the Scarborough Campus Students Union (SCSU) who was described as “an exceptional leader, organizer and participant who demonstrates character, skill and compassion for others.” Involved in many extracurricular activities and initiatives as well as fundraising efforts, he is described as “setting a higher standard for organization and teamwork and serving as a link between directors and executives” who has served as a campus leader as well as contributing whenever it was needed.

The Principal’s Award for Faculty Teaching went to psychology professor Marc Fournier, who was described by nominators as “more than a professor – he is an educator in the truest sense of the word because he fosters a sense of discovery and joy for learning in his students…he is organized, conscientious and passionate about helping students to learn and understand, with an enthusiasm for his material that is contagious. Teaching for him is clearly a labour of love.” His class was described as “a caffeine pill – one dose and you are pumped for the whole day! His passion, energy and dynamism are unparalleled.”

The Principal’s Award for Faculty Research went to chemistry professor Andre Simpson of the department of physical and environmental sciences. He was described as “an investigator of the remarkable chemical diversity of the world around us,” who is the recipient of multiple research awards and a remarkable scientist. According to Professor Malcolm Campbell, vice-principal, research, Simpson has garnered a great deal of research funding, influenced many students, and contributed in a major way to the campus facilities now in place for conducting research. Simpson was described as a leader in research as well as a mentor and role model for students and researchers alike.

Two awards were presented this year for the Graduate Student Teaching Assistant Award. Dwayne Pare of psychology, described as a “top-flight TA” with the ability to teach complex topics such as statistics, as well as his enthusiasm for engaging undergraduate student questions. His most outstanding accomplishment has been the development of peerScholar, an award-winning software package and pedagogical approach that engages undergraduates by evaluation of their peers’ writing assignments -- a viable alternative to multiple choice exams for courses with thousands of students. Amy Tsung of biological sciences, a TA in genetics, was lauded as someone who is “skillful in presenting complex concepts as clear and comprehensible ideas...with a tendency to go the extra mile to emphasize and clarify concepts, a proficient and well-organized teacher and role model.” She was described as “patient and inspiring” and someone who shares her graduate research work with undergraduates and advises students about career paths in biology.

Finally, two awards were also presented this year for the Undergraduate Student Teaching Assistant Award. Management students Jimmy Mihajlov and Vitali Mossounov, who served as TAs in accounting, were praised for their “knowledge, availability and eagerness to help students bridge the gap between concepts learned in class and concrete practical problems encountered by accountants.” They were described as “exceptional TAs -- very enthusiastic, organized, knowledgeable and enthusiastic,” with a special rapport for, and commitment to, enhancing student learning.


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