Honorary degree citation - Tom Brzustowski
By: M. Nabil Esmail, June 2003
Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you the distinguished scholar and academic administrator, Thomas Brzustowski, who has made invaluable contributions to public policy and to the support and excellence of engineering and scientific research in Canada.
Born in Poland, he arrived in Canada as an adolescent in 1948. He earned an undergraduate degree in engineering physics from the University of Toronto in 1958. He then joined the company Orenda Engines, working on engines for the Avro Arrow. He went on to graduate school at Princeton University, earning a master's degree in 1960, followed by a PhD in aeronautical engineering in 1963.
From 1962 to 1987, Dr. Brzustowski taught and carried out pioneering research in thermodynamics and combustion as professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Waterloo. During his 25-year career there, he published an extensive number of research papers and textbooks and gained international recognition in his field.
Dr. Brzustowski combined his teaching and research with university administration, demonstrating exceptional skill and forte in both. He served in several senior positions, including chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Associate Dean of Engineering for Graduate Studies. For almost 13 years, he served as Vice-President - Academic of University of Waterloo. This position gradually incorporated chief operating responsibilities, a role that was formally recognized with his appointment as Provost in 1987. With keen insight, Dr. Brzustowski played a leading role in the development of that institution's reputation for excellence in engineering, mathematics and science.
Later that year, Dr. Brzustowski was appointed Ontario's Deputy Minister of Colleges and Universities. His accomplished leadership led to his subsequent appointment as Deputy Minister in charge of the Premier's Council on Economic Renewal, in 1991. Within two years, these responsibilities expanded to INCLUDE the Premier's Council on Health, Well-Being and Social Justice. Under his adept management, these important portfolios were merged in June 1994.
In October 1995, Dr. Brzustowski became President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. He is credited with championing the drive for renewed and enhanced funding for university research grants and bringing to NSERC a refreshing new vitality, energy and vision. These are particularly impressive feats given the significant budget cuts and retrenchment he faced when he assumed the helm. Indeed, his tenure at the organization has seen a remarkable increase of industry support for research and innovation in
universities, and a flourishing number of NSERC programs supporting the education and training of highly qualified researchers. Under Dr. Brzustowski's direction, the Networks of Centres of Excellence has become a permanent program. A new and ambitious program for canada research chairs has been established across the country.
Dr. Brzustowski's research achievements were honoured by the canadian society for mechanical engineering throughout his academic career. He is a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and the Engineering Institute of Canada, as well as the Royal Society of Canada. In the year 2002, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.
His career of exemplary work and his steadfast commitment to higher education are shaping a generation of scientists and engineers for the 21" century, and leading to exciting new directions, discoveries and innovations that will place Canada as a world-class centre for research, so critical in today's knowledge based economy.
Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of Senate and the Board of Governors, it is my privilege and an honour to present to you Thomas Brzustowski, so that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.