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'I was able to do very different things'

Ulrike de Brentani and Agostino Borsellino reflect on their many years at Concordia
December 2, 2015
By Meagan Boisse

From left: Ulrike de Brentani and Agostino Borsellino. From left: Ulrike de Brentani and Agostino Borsellino.

On December 10, 2015, Concordia is recognizing 250 employees who have reached milestones in their careers at the university.

In the week leading up to the Long Service and Retiree Luncheon, we are profiling some of this year’s honourees to both celebrate their important achievements and acknowledge their service, loyalty and dedication to the community here at the university.

Ulrike de Brentani: dedicated teacher and administrator

Professor of Marketing, John Molson School of Business
45 years at Concordia

A trailblazer and respected academic in the world of business, Ulrike de Brentani’s career at the university spans four-and-a-half decades.

“For many years I was the only female in the business school,” recalls de Brentani, who first began teaching in 1970. 

Ulrike de Brentani Ulrike de Brentani

At the time, the commerce faculty at Loyola College was a small community with only a handful of people. “Now we have a 15-storey building just for the business school,” she says.

A marketing professor at the John Molson School of Business (JMSB), de Brentani has taught at the undergraduate, master and PhD levels. She was appointed associate dean of research at JMSB in the 1990s, and was responsible for directing the PhD and Master of Science programs and developing the research policy for the faculty.

After her own successes with research and grants in the field of new product innovation and marketing, de Brentani became an important resource on campus for other professors. She regularly ran workshops on how to create effective proposals.

“I still encourage my colleagues today, especially junior professors who are applying for the first time, to give me their grant applications and let me look them over,” says de Brentani. She stresses that it is essential for tenure-track professors to succeed in research so that they are in a position to take on a variety of functions at different stages in their career.

From 2005 to 2009, she again took on the role of Director of MSc and PhD and was instrumental in the re-development of the Master of Science program. She also initiated and co-ordinated the Annual Graduate Research Exposition, where MSc and PhD students present their research to the academic and business community. This has become an important annual event at JMSB.

“I suppose if I had to say what I liked most about my career at Concordia it would be that at different stages of my life depending on my interests and also on my capabilities I was able to do very different things, whether it be teaching, research or administration,” says de Brentani.

“In a lot of other scenarios you don't really get the opportunity to drop something and pick up something else, and that's one thing that was really great at Concordia.”

Beyond her many academic accomplishments, de Brentani has also served as a source of strength for her female colleagues at the university.

De Brentani headed monthly women’s caucus meetings to connect female colleagues across campus. She also became involved in the fight for pay equity in the ’90s. She was, and still is, a support resource for any co-worker in need.

“I feel very good that I was able to help some of my colleagues, even outside of the faculty. They need to know there's someone there to support them when they need it.”

Through her many years of service, de Brentani has established a legacy of capability, intellectuality and resolve.

Agostino Borsellino: committed custodian

Custodial Services, Facilities Management
25 years at Concordia

Agostino Borsellino remembers quite clearly the year he began his career at Concordia. It was 1990. He had recently married and he had a baby on the way.

Agostino Borsellino Agostino Borsellino

“1990 was a big year for me,” he says with a chuckle. “I remember that when I had my baby boy, the staff at the Recreation and Athletics Complex sent flowers to the mother of my children, to our house. Twenty-two years later, my sons started playing for the Concordia Stingers football team.”

Borsellino currently works in Custodial Services within Facilities Management. He’s responsible for an array of jobs including snow removal, installing winter carpets, cleaning, hospitality services and maintenance.

“It’s not boring. You're never alone. There are always students or staff close by, which I like, he says. “I talk to everybody and share things. I wouldn't be able to just be at an office by myself. I like to work with the public.”

During his time at Concordia, Borsellino has worked for the custodial and grounds units. For many years he was charged with caring for the Ed Meagher Arena and the Loyola Campus grounds.  

Over his years at the university, Borsellino has marveled at its growth.

“I used to go to the centre floor of the Henry F. Hall Building for my break and watch the construction workers build up the library,” he recalls. “I remember cutting the grass that lay where the Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex is today.”

Borsellino notes that a more recent job perk has been getting to see his son, who is now a JMSB student, around campus.

“It's a busy job. I'm not embarrassed to say what I do because we're very useful to the university. I don't have any bad experiences here at Concordia; there have only been good experiences.”

The Long Service and Retirees Luncheon takes place on December 10, 2015. Watch for more stories about the event next week.


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