Dr. Gary Kachanoski, Memorial University’s president and vice-chancellor, has announced the university’s outstanding educators, researchers and staff members for 2010.
The recipients were formally recognized at an event held Dec. 7 at the Fluvarium in St. John’s. At that event, Dr. Kachanoski presented the recipients of the president’s awards for teaching, research, exemplary service and exceptional community service. Five employees were honoured for exemplary service, two faculty members for distinguished teaching, four for research and two were recognized for exceptional community service.
"The success of any organization rests on the passion and commitment of its employees,” said Dr. Kachanoski. “Memorial is no exception, and I am pleased to recognize some of the outstanding faculty and staff we have at this university. Their contributions often extend beyond the Memorial campus, and have direct and positive effects on the surrounding community. Through exemplary service, teaching, research, and community service, these individuals are helping Memorial fulfill its mission.”
Dr. Mary L. Courage, Psychology, and Dr. Wolfgang Banzhaf, Computer Science, were named University Research Professors. University Research Professors have acquired a designation above the rank of professor. The title is the most prestigious award the university gives for research, and goes to faculty who have demonstrated a consistently high level of scholarship and whose research is of a truly international stature. The designation carries with it a $4,000 research grant (each year for five years) and a reduced teaching schedule.
Dr. Maria Mathews, Faculty of Medicine, and Dr. Marco Merkli, Mathematics and Statistics, received the President’s Award for Outstanding Research. The President’s Award for Outstanding Research recognizes researchers who have made outstanding contributions to their scholarly disciplines. Each award includes a $5,000 research grant.
Dr. Kati Szego, Music, and Dr. Leslie Phillips, Pharmacy, were presented President’s Awards for Distinguished Teaching which recognize the teaching excellence in the university community. Each winner of the teaching award receives a $5,000 grant contributed by the Memorial University Alumni Association, Office of the President, and Instructional Development Office/Distance Education and Learning Technologies.
Dr. Mahmoud M.R. Haddara, Engineering, and Martha MacDonald, Labrador Institute, were awarded the President’s Award for Exceptional Community Service, presented each year in recognition of employees (faculty or staff) who have demonstrated outstanding community service. The inaugural award was presented in 2007.
Five Memorial employees received the President’s Awards for Exemplary Service: Lynn Best, Department of Human Resources; Rick Predham, Computing and Communications; Marilyn Forward, Community Education and College Relations, Grenfell Campus; Jane Ryan, QE II Library; and Ann Marie Vaughan, Distance Education and Learning Technologies.
The President’s Award for Exemplary Service is presented each year to recognize employees who have demonstrated outstanding service and/or who have made significant contributions to the university community beyond that normally expected for their positions. All non-academic staff of Memorial University and its Separately Incorporated Entities are eligible to be nominated. The President’s Award for Exceptional Community Service and the President’s Award for Exemplary Service each carry a $1,000 award, respectively.
Memorial began its annual presentation of the University Research Professor designations and the Awards for Outstanding Research in 1984, and the Distinguished Teaching Awards in 1988, as ways of singling out particularly distinguished contributions within its academic community. Exemplary Service Awards were introduced in 1995 and the Exceptional Community Service Award was first awarded in 2008.
Biographies of the recipients follow below
University Research Professor
Dr. Mary L. Courage
The associate dean of science (research and graduate), Dr. Courage has been a Memorial faculty member for more than 30 years. During that time, much of her work has focussed on developmental processes in the early years of infancy and childhood -- including the changes with age in visual functioning, attention and information processing, memory and social cognition. Dr. Courage was co-director of the Centre of Excellence for Children and Adolescents with Special Needs from 2000-10. This multi-site centre was established by Health Canada to generate new research, and to ensure that existing knowledge relevant to the needs of children and adolescents living in remote and northern regions of Canada is available to both parents and professionals.
Dr. Wolfgang Banzhaf
Dr. Banzhaf is renowned for his contributions to genetic programming, which is a subfield of artificial intelligence. As a researcher he has worked all over the world – most notably as both a visiting and senior researcher for the Mitsubishi Electric Corporation. He is the holder of several patents and served as head of Department of Computer Science from 2003-09.
President’s Award for Outstanding Research
Dr. Maria Mathews
Maria Mathews holds a PhD in health policy, management and evaluation from the University of Toronto. Her research interests lie primarily in physician supply and access to care. Needless to say, these two areas are vital to the future of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, and the world. In 2006, utilizing data from class lists, and alumni and postgraduate databases, Dr. Mathews and two colleagues completed a research study concerning the national and provincial retention of Memorial University’s medical school graduates. The study determined where our Memorial doctors had gone, and recommended steps which could be taken to retain the their services after graduation.
Dr. Marco Merkli
Dr. Merkli’s works revolve around the behaviour of quantum systems. With more than two-dozen publications under his belt, Dr. Merkli is emerging as a bright star on the academic horizon of Memorial. His groundbreaking research has been turning heads the world over – most recently at the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). Dr. Merkli has a master’s in theoretical physics from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, and a PhD from the University of Toronto.
President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching
Dr. Kati Szego
Since starting her Memorial career in 1995, Dr. Szego created four courses in world music, three courses specific to the culture of Newfoundland and Labrador and became a central figure in the development of the MA and PhD programs in ethnomusicology. Dr. Szego received her B.Mus. from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., an MA from the University of Hawaii and a PhD from the University of Washington.
Dr. Leslie Phillips
Dr. Phillips, a professor at Memorial since 1994, uses what she knows of her students to help connect to each of them on a personal level. She also takes risks in her teaching, using a variety of teaching practices and assessment methods. She is a seven-time recipient of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Excellence in Pharmaceutical Teaching. Dr. Phillips has a diploma in pharmacy from the College of Trades and Technology in St. John’s, a bachelor of science in pharmacy from Memorial and a doctor of pharmacy degree from the University of British Columbia.
President’s Award for Exceptional Community Service
Dr. Mahmoud M.R. Haddara
For 22 years Dr. Haddara served as a professor of ocean and naval architectural engineering at Memorial University. However, it is his contributions to this province’s religious and cultural community that truly show us the man behind the science. Dr. Haddara has serve as Imam of the Muslim Mosque in St. John’s since its opening in 1990. For more than two decades he has been a strong, compassionate and eloquent voice in the province’s Muslim community, banding together with members of the Christian, Hindu and Jewish communities to combat issues like hunger, social justice and tolerance.
Since Ms. MacDonald moved to Happy Valley-Goose Bay in 1988 she has been a major advocate in the promotion of literacy, arts and culture in Labrador. An avid supporter, participant and former president of the Labrador Creative Arts Festival, she has had a major impact on the Labrador arts community. Eight years ago, as a member of the Eastern Labrador Arts Alliance, she helped lead the charge for a new theatre in Goose Bay. In September 2009 the O’Brien Arts Centre opened its doors to the public. Ms. MacDonald sits as co-chair on the board of directors and still volunteers as an usher for performances in this state of the art facility.
President’s Award for Exemplary Service
Memorial’s manager of Recruitment and Succession Planning, Ms. Best helped develop a strategic succession plan for the university, focusing on reducing risk, creating a solid leadership model, providing continuity and improving morale. Ms. Best is also heavily involved in professional development, offering a number of seminars and learning opportunities in subject areas such as effective interview techniques and appropriate supervisory management skills.
Mr. Predham began working in Memorial University’s Mail Services in August 1974. In the intervening time he has managed to make significant improvements in the way we communicate at Memorial. He was instrumental in introducing SPRING International mailing services to the university. This innovation, which replaced Canada Post for international mail, resulted in major cost savings for Memorial.
Ms. Forward, Grenfell Campus’s one and only program co-ordinator, is known throughout the community for her professionalism and creative approach and she is often tasked to help develop contract training aimed at supporting business growth in the area.
As the Commons IT supervisor Ms. Ryan has had a tremendous impact on the Queen Elizabeth II library. Her caring nature and drive to make sure everyone has the help they need have made everyone involved in the Commons stand up and take notice. Ms. Ryan’s random acts of kindness trickle down from her, to her employees and on to the students, faculty and staff that use the facility on a daily basis.
Ann Marie Vaughan
Ms. Vaughan is responsible for positioning Memorial’s distance capability nationally and internationally, developing an e-learning framework and leading development opportunities in teaching and learning throughout the university. Through her vision of what a classroom can be, Memorial’s distance enrolments have grown to more than 17,000 course registrations this past academic year (14.2 per cent of Memorial’s total enrolments).