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Community is the theme at Awards Night

Annual "Academy Awards of Ryerson" celebrates staff and faculty excellence
By: Will Sloan
April 03, 2018
The Congress 2017 operations committee accepted the President's Blue and Gold Award at Ryerson Awards Night. Photo by Clifton Li.

Photo: The Congress 2017 operations committee accepted the President's Blue and Gold Award at Ryerson Awards Night. Photo by Clifton Li.

Midway through Ryerson Awards Night on March 29, an unlikely theme emerged. When Steven Liss (vice-president, research and innovation) introduced the Social Innovation and Action Research Award, he recalled his time at the Department of Chemistry and Biology from 1988 to 2007, and his return to campus as a VP in 2017. Liss said, “I was thinking about the soundtrack to my life and what piece of music would march me up here, and I was thinking ‘The Long and Winding Road.’”

Later, introducing the Julia Hanigsberg Make Your Mark Staff Awards, Deborah Brown (vice-president, administration and operations) noted, “I’m a proud—very proud—Ryerson journalism grad,” and added, “I know that faculty has a lasting impact on their students, and I want you to know that I’m one of them.” To that end, she chose “Hello, Goodbye” as her Beatles song, “because you just can’t get rid of me that quickly.”

If both those choices suggest that Ryerson is a community—one whose impact is felt across a Ryersonian’s life, and one where they can return—Denise O’Neil Green (vice-president, equity and community inclusion) suggested that the doors must be always open. “My song is ‘Yellow Submarine,’” she said. “We all live in the Yellow Submarine, right? Not only invited to the party, but we’re also invited to dance.”

Nicknamed “the Academy Awards of Ryerson,” Ryerson Awards Night is an annual celebration recognizing the achievements of faculty and staff, nominated by colleagues. The awards honoured excellence in teaching, research, administration, service, and leadership, and were held at the Eaton Chelsea Hotel.

The 7th annual event began with a welcome from university President Mohamed Lachemi, who told the audience, “There’s so much to be proud of at Ryerson University. Tonight, we see individuals and teams who are doing amazing work. We also recognize what is special about our community at Ryerson. We see glimpses of remarkable people and their work. So I encourage you to make the most of our time together.”

Provost Michael Benarroch spoke to the importance of taking time to celebrate the individual contributions of Ryerson’s community. “As you hear the contributions of all the members of our community, you see the very different ways that individuals contribute to the institution, and how important all of those contributions are. And when we bring all of those contributions together, it’s what makes Ryerson such an amazing place.

What makes our institution great is really the people—the people who come here every day and dedicate themselves to our students, to each other, and to our community.”

The top award, the President’s Blue and Gold Award of Excellence, recognizes individuals and teams who demonstrate Ryerson values in projects that significantly advance the university’s mission. This year, the award went to Paul Stenton of the University Planning Office, who retired a few weeks ago after a long career, and the 32-member Congress Operations Committee, who collectively shepherded the very successful Congress 2017.

The Alan Shepard Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Award honoured the Career Centre team, the Positive Space team, and three individual recipients (Imogen Coe, Sricamalan Pathmanathan and Anver Saloojee). “This year the nominees stretched our imaginations,” said Denise O’Neil Green. “[The awards] clearly recognize how equity, diversity, and inclusion is being done in different spaces, in different ways, at different levels within our organization—and even over the course of one’s Ryerson career.”

The most emotional moment of the event came when Ryerson RTA professor Dana Lee was posthumously awarded the Chancellor’s Award of Distinction. Lee, who passed away from cancer this month at 61, was beloved for his innovative teaching methods (including a popular YouTube channel) and warm personality. His widow, Lucy, accepted the award to a standing ovation.

In his closing remarks, Chancellor Lawrence Bloomberg returned to the idea of Ryerson as a community, saying, “We appreciate how all the parts of the university fit together, and how the dedication and talent of individuals and teams combine to create an environment where brilliance, initiative, and community spirit advance well-being and progress—not only on our campus, but for all of our city and our nation.”

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Find out more about the recognition program at Ryerson Recognition and Awards.

The full list of recipients is available on the Awards website.

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Stories about this year’s winners:
The team behind Congress among employees to be honoured at Awards Night

Dana Lee: “Everybody’s favourite teacher”