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REF NO.: 59

SUBJECT: Memorial University celebrates outstanding teachers and researchers

DATE: Oct. 24

Memorial University recognized the efforts of its best teachers, researchers and staff members at a special ceremony held today at the St. John's Arts and Culture Centre. Seven Memorial faculty members were honored at the reception - five for outstanding research, and two for distinguished teaching. As well, the exceptional contribution of members of the administrative and support staff of Memorial University and its agencies was recognized with the President's Award for Exemplary Service.

The President's Awards Ceremony is part of Celebrate Memorial, an annual festival that celebrates the university's significant ties to the community, which is happening this year from Oct. 14-25.

Dr. Jeremy Hall, Department of Earth Sciences, and Dr. Marilyn Porter, Department of Sociology, were each named University Research Professors - the highest rank the university bestows upon its faculty members for research. The designation carries with it a $4,000 research grant each year for five years, and a reduced teaching schedule.

Dr. Proton Rahman, Faculty of Medicine, and Dr. Nancy Dahn and Timothy Steeves, School of Music (who are sharing an award), received the President's Award for Outstanding Research. Each award includes a $5,000 research grant.

Dr. Leonard Lye, Faculty of Engineering, and Pauline Downer, Faculty of Business Administration, were both honoured with the President's Award for Distinguished Teaching. Each award includes a $5,000 grant contributed by the Memorial University Alumni Association.

As well, Dr. Alex Faseruk, Faculty of Business Administration, was recognized at the event for receiving the prestigious 3M Teaching Fellowship. This national award recognizes excellence in teaching over an extended period of time, and also acknowledges leadership in improving university teaching.

Honoured with the President's Award for Exemplary Service were Janet Benger, ESL Program; Carol Boland, Human Resources; Allyson Hajek, Continuing Education; Rose Hatfield, Marine Institute and James Nolan White, Computer Science. 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.


The President's Awards for Distinguished Teaching recognize the teaching excellence in the university community. Each recipient of the teaching award receives a $5,000 grant contributed by the Memorial University Alumni Association.

Pauline Downer, Business Administration
Since joining Memorial's faculty of Business Administration in 1990, Pauline Downer has long been a favorite professor with students. Over the years, various commerce classes have selected her as Accounting Professor of the Year and Professor of the Year. This year, she has been selected as the recipient for the President's Award for Distinguished Teaching. Ms. Downer earned a B.Comm. (Co-op) (Hons.) and an MBA from Memorial and also earned her chartered accountant designation. She teaches in the areas of accounting, tax regulation, and small business and entrepreneurship. "As a professor, I can't make students learn but I can help them," she said. "The most rewarding part of teaching is knowing you helped a student learn and reach their potential. That doesn't necessarily mean they've absorbed all the course material but that they've learned throughout the semester that they can tackle any challenge."

"While Regulatory and Tax Issues for Small Business doesn't sound like an exciting course, Pauline made it interesting and relevant," said former student Gordon Barnes. "When a professor is able to make the connection between the classroom and the real world, it makes learning a lot easier and more fun. Using her experience as a chartered accountant, she made the material relevant."

Dr. Leonard Lye, Engineering
Dr. Leonard Lye teaches civil engineering and has been with Memorial University since 1988. His research interests are in statistical and stochastic hydrology, environmental statistics, design of experiments, and hydraulics and hydrology. He is also a consultant to various companies and has also taught professional development courses in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Canada. In addition to this award, Dr. Lye is the winner of the Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland and Labrador Teaching Award (2001). Dr. Lye is also President of Com-Adv Devices Inc., a company he formed with former student Chris Butt. They are the inventors of the Footworker line of products for improving footwork and fitness for squash and badminton players. In addition, he is also the inventor of the DOE-Golfer, an innovative and fun toy for teaching design of experiment principles.

Besides academic and entrepreneurial interests, Dr. Lye is the founder of local chapters of two national charities. The first is the Tetra Society of North America, an innovative charity dedicated to helping people with disability by building and designing assistive devices that are not available in the market place. He is also the chapter coordinator and has personally designed and built several innovative devices. The second charity is the Taoist Tai Chi Society, which he founded together with his wife, dedicated to the health improvement aspect of Tai Chi Chuan.

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. Nancy Dahn and Timothy Steeves, Music
Duo Concertante, a chamber music ensemble comprised of Dr. Nancy Dahn and Timothy Steeves, has attained world-class status in the field of performance and excels in all measures or performance scholarship. Independently, they are a violinist and pianist respectively, however since 1997, the majority of their scholarly activities have been practice under their collective identity. Dr. Dahn began her scholarly career at the New England Conservatory, and continued at the Juilliard School and the Cleveland Institute of Music. She began her career at Memorial University in 1995 where she is currently an associate professor in the School of Music. Professor Steeves was educated at the Hochschule für Musik Rheinland in Cologne, Germany; the University of Western Ontario; Hochschule für Musik und Theatre in Hannover; and the Musikhochschule, Freiburg im Breisgau in Germany. He arrived at Memorial in 1996 where he is currently associate professor of piano.

Dr. Proton Rahman, Medicine
Dr. Proton Rahman attended the University of Toronto and the Memorial University Faculty of Medicine before joining the Faculty of Medicine as an assistant professor of medicine since 1999. Since his faculty appointment, he has established an interdisciplinary research program at St. Clare's Mercy Hospital and has been the lead investigator in projects involved in the Discipline of Medicine, Discipline of Obstetrics, Discipline of Pediatrics, Discipline of Psychiatry, Discipline of Orthopedics, Discipline of Genetics, Basic Medical Science, Immunology, Nursing and Allied Health. As an academic rheumatologist, he has attracted at least 12 peer reviewed grants or salary awards as a principal investigator. He has published 40 manuscripts in highly visible and respected journals. His efforts in research have been recognized with the 2002 Canadian Rheumatology Association Young Investigator Award and the Arthritis Society of Canada Scholar Award. There are two areas in particular where he has made significant contributions. His discoveries in the genetics of psoriasis arthritis have subsequently been incorporated in gene mapping strategies by all investigators in psoriatic arthritis. He has also documented the impact of lupus as an independent risk factor for accelerated atherosclerosis.

University Research Professor is 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 truly international stature. The designation carries with it a $4,000 research grant each year for five years and a reduced teaching schedule.

Dr. Jeremy Hall, Earth Sciences
After completing his BA in Physics at Oxford, and a stint with the Royal Dutch/Shell Group, Dr. Hall began his research career at the University of Glasgow, where his studies of the deep structural framework of Britain evolved to include the study of the physical properties of rocks to better understand seismology. Dr. Hall moved to the Earth Sciences department of Memorial University as the NSERC/Petro Canada Industrial Chair in Crustal Seismology in 1987. In this capacity he built the capability for acquiring and processing seismic data that is unparalleled in Canadian universities. After his tenure as Petro Canada chair, Dr. Hall served for four years as director of the Centre for Earth Resources Research where he was instrumental in launch of the TERRAMON Project, a diverse working group that monitored environmental changes in Newfoundland. He also became deeply involved in LITHOPROBE, a national program designed to study the architecture and evolution of the Canadian continental lithosphere through focused geological and geophysical research. He is a former president of the Canadian Geoscience Council.

In addition to his professional activities, Dr. Hall has been very involved in public education, serving on the board of directors of the Johnson GEO Centre and helping to develop the geological tour along the Manuels River trail.

Dr. Marilyn Porter, Sociology
Dr. Marilyn Porter received an honours degree in modern history and political science from Trinity College, Dublin, before continuing her education at Oxford and Bristol Universities. She was one of the earliest scholars in the United Kingdom to gain a PhD using a feminist theoretical framework, and has contributed significantly to the development of feminist theory and methodology, notably within the disciplines of sociology and women's studies. In the 1970s, Dr. Porter was involved in groundbreaking work in investigating the class consciousness of homemakers and the connections between gender and class consciousness. When Dr. Porter came to Memorial in 1980, she immediately began working in the under-researched field of women in Newfoundland. During the 1980s, her research provided a solid basis for the flourishing of social science studies on Newfoundland women, with a particular focus on women's experience in rural Newfoundland. Since the early 1990s, Dr. Porter has focused a substantial part of her research on the field of international development as it affects women. Largely in response to invitations from leading feminist scholars in Indonesia and Pakistan familiar with her work, she developed linkage projects in these countries.

A significant aspect of Dr. Porter's scholarly activity is centred on her editorial work, in particular, her leadership since 1995 of the journal Atlantis. Dr. Porter has been principal investigator, co-investigator or project director of 15 funded projects. She has authored two books and co-edited four others. She is also past president of both the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women and the Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association.

The President's Award for Exemplary Service honours the exceptional contribution of members of the administrative and support staff of Memorial University and its agencies. The award is given in recognition of continuous exemplary service to the university by those who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in their role within the university community. The award acknowledges nominees who perform actions of significant merit that benefit the university community and are over and above the nominee's normal employment responsibilities.

The citations that follow were read out at the President's Award Ceremony:

Janet Benger, director, ESL Program, English Language and Literature
Janet Benger has been employed by Memorial since 1991 and assumed the duties and responsibilities for English as a Second Language in 1994. Since that time, she has developed a reputation as an extraordinarily hard-working and dedicated professional who is deeply committed to her job.

Ms. Benger's achievements at Memorial include:

  • the development of the English Language Summer School from a small program restricted to Quebec students to one that is fully international;
  • the development of a precursor to Memorial's present graduate program in teaching;
  • the creation of the 12-week Intensive English Program;
  • co-creation of our Teaching English as a Second Language Diploma program, of which she is also the co-ordinator; and
  • the creation and co-ordination of several programs tailored to suit the language needs of numerous graduate students.

Carol Boland, personnel technician, Human Resources
Carol began her career with Memorial in 1967 and joined the Department of Human Resources in 1985. In her current position, she is the face and voice of the university for many prospective and new employees. Carol answers employment inquiries from internal and external clients, handling each one with the care and consideration that has become her trademark. As one of the first contacts for new employees, Carol sets the stage for forming positive perceptions of Memorial as an employer.

Carol has regular contact with deans, directors, administrative assistants, supervisors, managers, and secretarial, clerical and technical staff. No matter where you travel in this university, everyone knows her name and recognizes her gentle and kind voice. Many people have either experienced first-hand or heard a story about how Carol helped someone in their employment.

Allyson Hajek, design specialist, IDO, Continuing Education
Allyson Hajek has been employed with Memorial University since 1983 and currently holds the position of design specialist in the Instructional Development Office. Her work is complex and challenging. In any one day, she interacts with senior administration, department heads, as well as a variety of faculty, graduate students and staff. Her focus in such interactions is always on quality, teamwork and effectiveness. Allyson exemplifies teamwork and models the ideal team player. She contributes greatly to committees and project work by her understanding and sense of collegiality. Her thoroughness, energy and attention to detail are assets to projects from beginning to end. As one committee member noted, "It is unusual to find a team player with such extraordinary ability."

In short, Allyson's exceptional qualities as instructional designer, project manager and workshop facilitator are deeply appreciated by the university community.

Rose Hatfield, recreation co-ordinator, Marine Institute
Rose began working with the Marine Institute in 1988 and has always demonstrated a commitment to the health and wellness of students and her fellow employees. During her first year of appointment, Rose's focus on students was very evident in her implementation of a pilot project that resulted in the highest rate of retention of first-term students ever.

Rose has demonstrated true leadership in organizing the MI Health and Wellness Survivor Challenge for employees, developing a program involving points, fitness and teamwork that was fun, challenging and rewarding. The challenge not only increased employees' levels of fitness, but also had a fantastic impact on morale.

Rose is very good at motivating students and employees toward a healthier lifestyle and always offers a word of encouragement, just when she senses you may need it. Rose is known for truly superior customer service, dedication and perseverance.

James Nolan White, systems administrator, Computer Science
James Nolan White has been an employee of Memorial University since 1981. Nolan is a systems administrator in the Department of Computer Science. He has served in this capacity for 20 years, during which time the duties and responsibilities of the position have grown dramatically - from the management of a single computer system to the management of a network of several hundred systems, with many different and incompatible hardware and operating systems. He is to be commended for his welcoming manner and the "mini orientation" he gives new students and staff. He is involved with the Faculty of Science Open House, helping organize the event, as well as directly interacting with visitors and students.

One nominator describes Nolan as very knowledgeable in his field and effective in his work, with a nice personality and a willingness to provide consistent support to everyone who needs it. Outside of work hours, Nolan volunteers his time with the St. John's Orienteering Association, the Windsurfing Club, and, from time-to-time, has helped organize Scouts Canada jamboree events.

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