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Two academic leaders and nine fellows honoured at ceremony

Faculty members celebrated for their leadership and commitment to the university
June 6, 2014
By Tom Peacock

At a spirited and well-attended cermemony, Benoit-Antoine Bacon, provost and vice-president of Academic Affairs, presented Concordia’s 2014 Academic Leadership and Emerging Academic Leadership Awards. He also recognized the expertise and contributions of his Provost Fellows during the May 28 event at the Refectory Building.  

June Chaikelson, a professor in the Department of Psychology and one of the university’s longest-serving faculty members, took to the stage to receive the Academic Leadership Award. Glenn Cowan, associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, was presented with the Emerging Academic Leadership Award in absentia.

June Chaikelson: ‘She has played a major part in shaping our institution’

Created in 2012, the Academic Leadership Award recognizes individuals who have shown exceptional leadership abilities through the realization of significant administrative accomplishments at Concordia.

“If I were to list all of June’s accomplishments, we would be here for several hours,” Bacon told the audience, which included new and existing members of the Provost’s Circle of Distinction. “She has played a major part in shaping our institution into what it is today.”

The provost, a Concordia alumnus who took his honours thesis class in psychology with Chaikelson, credits her with encouraging him to pursue graduate studies. “I would not be here today if not for June,” he said.

Chaikelson first came to Sir George Williams University, one of Concordia’s founding institutions, in 1965 as a lecturer in the Department of Psychology. In 1975, she was named chair of the department. Two years later she was appointed Dean of Division II of the Faculty of Arts and Science, making her one of the first, if not the first, female Dean of a large multidisciplinary Faculty in Canada.

Chaikelson has since served on countless academic administrative committees and held positions including chair of the Joint Employment Equity Committee, president of the Concordia University Faculty Association and, since 2010, chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

Hal Proppe, professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and fellow member of the Senate Finance Committee, has known Chaikelson for 40 years. In the letter of nomination he wrote for Chaikelson, he underlined her commitment to Concordia.

“June has played a major role in virtually every aspect of the life of this university,” he said. “There is no other person I can think of who is more deserving of this award.”

In a letter nominating Chaikelson for the honour, Virginia Penhune, chair of the Department of Psychology, noted all her colleague has done to shape the department.

“June helped to hire a strong group of research-focused faculty whose labs are funded by all of the major provincial and national agencies, and who attract top-level graduate and undergraduate students,” she said.

When invited to say a few words to close the event, Chaikelson recalled arriving at Sir George and promising to herself that she would do everything in her power to make the school a top choice among students. 

“Fast-forward to the present day, and we’re a first-choice destination for the vast majority of our students,” she said. “Do I have any regrets about the choice I made in 1965? Absolutely not.”

Glenn Cowan: ‘He works well to bring ideas together’

The Emerging Academic Leadership Award recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated exceptional leadership abilities without having yet served in a major administrative role.

Cowan — the university’s 2014 winner — joined Concordia in 2007, and has since been active on numerous committees at the department and faculty levels, as well as in the School of Graduate Studies. 

“He has assumed these leadership roles while retaining a very productive and active research agenda,” said Jorgen Hansen, vice-provost of Faculty Relations.

Cowan has also demonstrated exceptional leadership in curriculum development, most notably in his work to establish an Electronic/Very Large Scale Integration option in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

As department chair William Lynch noted in Cowan’s letter of nomination, “He was successful in that endeavour, and the results have borne out his efforts.”

While Cowan is currently on sabbatical, he will assume the role of undergraduate program director in the department when he returns in June.

In nominating him for the Emerging Academic Leadership Award, Christopher Trueman, interim dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, emphasized Cowan’s ability to create consensus.

“He is adept at working with people who hold differing opinions, and works well to bring ideas together.”

The evening would not have been complete without recognizing the remarkable contributions of faculty members who have worked as Provost Fellows during the academic year.

They are: Ashutosh Bagchi, facilities and space, Saul Carliner, digital learning, Ali Dolatabati, graduate studies - interdisciplinary teaching, Linda Dyer, faculty development – mid career, Deborah Dysart-Gale, innovation, Marcie Frank, writing, Ted Little, first-year experience, Rosemary Reilly, faculty development – women and Peter Stoett, sustainability.

Bacon said, “The idea behind this program is to tap the specific expertise of our faculty members to lead specific portfolios and also to give a taste of institutional leadership to our talented and dedicated faculty.”

“The Provost’s Fellow Program was started last year with the appointment of Rosemary Reilly as a fellow for CTLS and Saul Carliner who spearheaded the e-learning portfolio. This year we expanded the program to nine fellows, each of which deserve our thanks and recognition for their academic vision and leadership.”

Bacon thanked all award recipients, fellows and faculty in attendance for a great academic year.

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