Exceptional staff, teachers receive Principal’s Awards

During this week's Fall Convocation ceremonies at Place des Arts, the University also took the time to honour some exceptional teachers and staff members with the Principal’s Awards for Administrative and Support Staff and the Principal’s Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

Some 1,500 student degrees as well as two honorary doctorates were awarded at the Fall Convocation ceremonies at Place des Arts earlier this week, where the University also took the time to honour some exceptional teachers and staff members.

The Principal’s Awards for Administrative and Support Staff acknowledge the exceptional efforts of McGill employees. Four individual awards of $5,000 were presented, one for each staff category: Management (Managers and Professionals), Clerical, Technical and Library Assistants, Trades and Services. A Team Projects award was also handed out.

The Principal’s Prize for Excellence in Teaching, established in 2000 to recognize excellence in teaching and its importance to the academic experience of students at McGill, was awarded to one recipient in each of four categories: Faculty Lecturer, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and Full Professor.

The University also paid tribute to University Marshal, Prof. David Harpp, who was presented with the McGill University Lifetime Achievement Award for Leadership in Learning (see Profile).

Profiles of staff members courtesy of McGill Human Resources. For more information on the Principal’s Awards for Administrative and Support Staff, including the nomination process, please visit: www.mcgill.ca/hr/employee/awards-and-recognition/principals-awards. To learn more about the Principal’s Prize for Excellence in Teaching, go to: www.mcgill.ca/tls/awards/principalprize/.

Principal’s Prize for Excellence in Teaching

Faculty Lecturer Category

David M. Lank, Desautels Faculty of Management

A graduate of Princeton University (AB ’60), David M. Lank co-founded Helix Investments, one of Canada’s pioneering venture capital firms, in 1968. Now the Director Emeritus of the Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies, he joined the Desautels Faculty of Management, where he teaches MBA level courses in entrepreneurial start-ups, early-phase management and entrepreneurial leadership, in 1999.

An accomplished artist, actor and author with more than 40 books to his credit, Prof. Lank has written about everything from food to the history of natural history. A lifelong conservationist, he has sat on the boards of organizations such as Wildlife Habitat Canada and the Zoological Societies of Canada and Montreal. The Chairman of the McCord Museum from 1984 to 1994, Prof. Lank was also responsible for the design and installation of the statue of James McGill that was unveiled on lower campus in 1996.

Prof. Lank was awarded the Order of Canada in 1996. He received the Distinguished Teaching Award in the Graduate Program at McGill in 2006.

“The more than 1,100 students who have enriched my classes are among my greatest treasures,” Lank told the Reporter. “The doom and gloom-sayers would only have to interact with them to know that the future is in the hands of extraordinary young people. This award is nominally for ‘teaching;’ but it should also be for ‘learning.’ How can I thank McGill enough for having had the opportunity of learning so much from my inspirational students?”

Assistant Professor Category

Robert Leckey, Faculty of Law

An assistant professor in the Faculty of Law since 2006, Robert Leckey teaches and researches constitutional law and family law.

A McGill alumnus (BCL/ LLB ’02), Leckey clerked for Justice Michel Bastarache of the Supreme Court of Canada from 2002 to 2003. From 2003 to 2006, he undertook doctoral studies in law at the University of Toronto as a Trudeau scholar.

Leckey has also received the Prix de la Fondation du Barreau du Québec (2007), the McGill Law Students’ Association’s John W. Durnford Teaching Excellence Award (2009), and the Canada Prize of the International Academy of Comparative Law (2010). He chairs the McGill Equity Subcommittee on Queer People and is research director for the Commission of Inquiry into the Process of Appointing Judges of Quebec (the Bastarache Commission).

“Someone who taught me said that law school is all about the implicit game rules; but that approach privileges those from the same background as most professors, disadvantaging those who are different,” Leckey told the Reporter. “My focus is transparency, practice and feedback.”

“This honour makes me reflect on how much I have learned about teaching from my students and colleagues in the last five years.”

Associate Professor Category

Rosalie Jukier, Faculty of Law

Rosalie Jukier is a graduate of McGill (BCL/ LLB ’83) and Oxford University (BCL ’85), and has taught in the Faculty of Law since 1985. Her teaching and research lie in the area of comparative private law, with a focus on contractual obligations, remedies and legal pedagogy.

Professor Jukier has a long history of service at McGill. Currently Associate Dean, Graduate Studies (Law), she was the University’s Dean of Students from 1995-2001, leaving, as her legacy, the Brown Student Services Building. She has also served the Faculty of Law as Associate Dean, both of Admissions and Strategic Planning. In addition to this year’s Principal’s Prize for Excellence in Teaching, Professor Jukier received the John W. Durnford Teaching Excellence Award in 2004.

From 2005 to 2007, Professor Jukier added judges to her roster of students when she served as Senior Advisor to the National Judicial Institute in Ottawa, an organization dedicated to the development and delivery of legal education for judges.

“When I decided to go to law school, I never thought I would end up teaching law but now, as I look back on my career, I cannot imagine having done anything else,” Jukier told The Reporter. “It has been so rewarding to have been teaching, and learning from, such talented and interesting students all these years. Receiving this award is humbling, exciting and gratifying – truly an honour.”

Full Professor Category

Michael Petrides, Faculty of Science/Faculty of Medicine

Dr. Michael Petrides is James McGill Professor in the Departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery and in the Department of Psychology and is the Director of the Neuropsychology/Cognitive Neuroscience Unit at the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI). His research interests are focused on the role of the frontal cortex and related neural structures in working memory and higher order control of cognitive processing.

Dr. Petrides obtained degrees in Psychology (BSc) and in Neuroanatomy and Neurophysiology (MSc) at the University of London and completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge. He was a post-doctoral research fellow at the MNI and a research fellow at Harvard University School of Medicine before returning to McGill as an assistant professor.

Dr. Petrides was awarded a James S. McDonnell 21st Century Scientist Award in 2001 and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007.

“I am so honoured to be one of this year’s recipients of this prize and so grateful to have had the privilege of teaching at this great university,” Petrides told the Reporter. “Teaching is my great passion. My sister always reminds me that my favourite game when I was a kid was to pretend I was a university professor teaching. I love the contact with young bright minds. Interacting with them during teaching makes me come alive, and I am so excited when I see them fired up to pursue teaching and research careers.”

Principal’s Awards for Administrative and Support Staff

This year’s winner in the Trades and Services category is Pietro Guarnieri, who has worked as a Serviceperson in the Arts Building for nearly 35 years. Guarnieri considers McGill his second home and he treats colleagues as an extended family. His dedication to making sure that offices, classrooms and hallways are always clean, functional and attractive is key to productive research and learning. For many, the Arts Building is the public face of McGill, and Guarnieri is dedicated to its well-being. In a sense, he has contributed to defining its personality. “Pietro is a man of few words, but he certainly gets the job done,” said Maria Gabriel, Senior Administrator and Student Affairs Officer, Art History and Communication Studies. “He is an outstanding individual whose ethics, hard work and team spirit speak volumes despite his gentle-mannered approach.”

Frank Scopelleti is still passionate about is work as a carpenter and troubleshooter in the Department of Biology, even after 16 years. Given the diversity of research in the department, Scopelleti is the go-to person for innovative solutions to research obstacles. “It’s a great feeling to be honoured this way,” said Scopelleti. “I’m sure that receiving this award will mean a lot to my mom.” Scopelleti’s creative approach often results in a stronger research design, while saving teachers and students time and money. He makes a deliberate effort of applying green methods by incorporating reusable and recyclable materials into his designs. For research that requires small, specialized greenhouse equipment, built to exacting specifications, the Department is fortunate to be able to rely on Scopelleti’s expertise.

This year’s winner in the Clerical category is Manon Berthiaume. With 25 years of experience at the Research Centre of Private and Comparative Law, Berthiaume is considered “the centre of the Centre.” She deals with a wide range of stakeholders politely, efficiently and graciously and is considered a model of diplomacy and grace under pressure. Major research funding obtained year after year would not have been possible without Berthiaume’s continued involvement. Berthiaume’s other major contribution is her institutional memory – she knows virtually everything about every research project involving the Centre since 1985. Berthiaume also believes in going above and beyond the call of duty. Recently, she has been involved in the digitalization of the Centre’s Dictionaries of Quebec Civil Law published in the last 25 years, this in addition to her regular duties. “I am surprised to receive this award,” said Berthiaume. “I am surrounded by great colleagues and everything we do is a team effort. It’s always a pleasure to come to work, even after all this time.”

Gregg Blachford is the recipient in the Management category, having shifted the McGill Career Planning Service (CaPS) unit’s focus from job placement to career education. “I’m honored to receive this award; I am especially proud of the MYFUTURE job search tool, which is proving to be highly effective among students,” he said. Blachford is the first Canadian member to join the U.S. Career Center Directors’ Group. His focus is to benchmark with best practices in career planning throughout North America. Blachford is a skilled communicator, mentor and counselor, all tremendous assets in community involvement. For 12 years, he has been an advisor to McGill Nightline, a confidential telephone line run by student volunteers, thanks to his natural ability to get people to speak out. Blachford has also been an inspirational leader on the Queer Equity subcommittee, making McGill a more tolerant, diverse and vibrant community. Finally, Blachford is being recognized for his advocacy for quality student advising. He is now in his fifth term as an elected member of the administrative staff in McGill’s Senate.

This year’s winner in the Team Projects category is the ICS Service Desk. This unit is represented by Kim Huynh, Manager of the ICS Service Desk, who accepted the award on behalf of her team of 25. “We are touched, excited, proud and honoured,” said Huynh. “We dedicate this award to all our colleagues in IT Services, because without their help and support, we would not have achieved this success.” The team earned the award for its 96- per-cent client satisfaction rating, recorded last year. All requests are quickly resolved with 97-per-cent of all calls responded to within 30 seconds. But speed never trumps quality. The team makes sure that the problem is solved, even if it is complex and requires considerable time and effort. Team members are innovative in their use of technology, which improves effectiveness. It also allows them to educate and guide the client through the required steps. The team’s commitment to service excellence is commendable and benefits the entire McGill network, no small feat.