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UTSC fuels innovative programming for students

UTSC receives two Excellence Through Innovation Awards

The University of Toronto Scarborough has received the U of T Excellence Through Innovation Award for two innovative programs designed to enrich the student experience.

This year, recipients of the award from UTSC include the Health & Wellness Centre for a unique undergraduate mental health program called Flourish, and the Academic Advising & Career Centre received praise for their program called the Career Learning Network.

“Flourish and the Career Learning Network raise the bar in creating opportunities for students to equip themselves with tools for a great experience at UTSC and life outside of the University,” says Desmond Pouyat, dean of student affairs at UTSC. “It’s not always about doing more, but really doing things better for our student body.”

As a campus showcasing many firsts—including the first undergraduate mental health program in Canada—it’s no surprise the Health & Wellness Centre is being recognized for Flourish, a project unique to UTSC and the first of its kind in Ontario to target first-year students, help them cope with the transition to post-secondary education and to thrive, mentally and academically. Through an online mental health assessment tool, Flourish helps students identify stressors and teaches them to use their strengths to foster resilience and positive relationships. This fall, staff in the Flourish program collaborated with other UTSC departments to train third and fourth year students as ambassadors who will mentor and support incoming students, helping them achieve their academic and emotional potential. Initiated by psychologist Dr. Tayyab Rashid, Flourish is based on the psycho-educational model of the Penn Resiliency Program and Positive Psychology Curriculum of Swarthmore College, models that have been independently validated through 22 studies across cultures and socioeconomic levels. Next steps for the project?—the Flourish team is developing integrated partnerships with the Toronto District School Board to assist students transitioning to post-secondary education, and with the Rouge Valley Health System-Centenary to provide greater external support to students with health-related concerns.

The Academic Advising & Career Centre also received an award for the Career Learning Network (CLN). Launched in December 2013, CLN is a tri-campus initiative that provides access to more than 45,000 job postings annually, along with career-related events and services for more than 67,000 students across the University. CLN also supports students exploring career options and graduate education, and provides access to academic and learning skills support. Integrated into the Student Web Service, CLN is highly visible to students and recent graduates, with a goal of presenting U of T student career seekers to employers, as well as creating opportunities for students to partner with faculty, staff and other professionals.

The tri-campus Excellence Through Innovation Award celebrates significant efforts of individuals and teams that advance the university's strategic objectives and provide an opportunity to share best practices. More than 100 nominations are received annually.

Award recipients will attend a reception on January 12, 2015 at the U of T President’s official residence. Click here for more on the awards and to view the 2014 recipients.

© University of Toronto Scarborough