It’s a lifetime award for a lifetime of dedication.
The director of Memorial University’s Division of Lifelong Learning will receive an honorary membership to the Canadian Association for University Continuing Education (CAUCE) today, May 30, at the group’s annual general meeting and conference in Toronto.
Doreen Whalen is being honoured for her outstanding contribution to the fields of adult learning and continuing education during her extensive career.
As head of Memorial’s Division of Lifelong Learning, she helps oversee a wide range of general interest and professional development classes, programs and services offered to the public. The unit offers classes focused on everything from conversational Spanish and photography, to music and dance and culinary lessons.
Dr. Jane Lewis, chair of CAUCE’s nomination committee said in a letter to Ms. Whalen that she has been “a model practitioner, creating innovative new programs and nurturing and guiding numerous community and professional organizations. Moreover, during your many years at MUN, you were able to provide a constant and important voice for continuing education through many organizational changes and restructuring.”
For her part, Whalen said she was shocked by the award.
“I’m not sure I feel worthy to have been accepted into the company of those who so deservedly received the honour in past," she said. "To have been nominated by my colleagues at Memorial, let alone granted the honor .... I'm humbled. I'm speechless."
Ms. Whalen started her career in continuing education in 1970, as the Division of Part-time Credit Studies’ executive assistant. Over the next 21 years, she rose to become acting dean of the School of General and Continuing Studies. Following the dissolution of the school in 1986, she became the director of the Division of Continuing Studies Continuing Education, moving from there in 2001 to her current position as director of the Division of Lifelong Learning.
In addition to her administrative duties, Ms. Whalen has been a long-time teacher of business administration courses; first in the college system, later for the Faculty of Business where she’s been teaching Business Communications since 1991.
The CAUCE’s award comes on the cusp of her retirement: Ms. Whalen is eligible to retire in November, marking more than 36 years of service with Memorial.
“Lifelong learning is an attitude, not a circumstance,” she said. “There is no point in time when you say ‘I've learned all I need or care to learn.’ To remain active, engaged and vital, you’ve always got to be offering yourself new challenges and stimulating your brain.”
“I remember a customer of ours once said, ‘When you stop learning, you stop living.’ He’s right. I’d add to that by saying, ‘A day you learn nothing, is a day wasted’.”
Ms. Whalen’s award is the second time in as many years that a Memorial continuing educator has been honoured. Dean Graham Skanes, who is now retired, was the recipient of the same award at CAUCE’s 2005 annual general meeting and conference in St. John’s.