How will we remember 2013? Probably through one or more of these faces.
Today, Western News presents its 4th annual Newsmakers issue, a celebration of the campus spirit we have to offer at Western. Each Newsmaker contributed positively to conversations – both important and entertaining – on this campus. They are who we will think about when we think about 2013.
Understand, we honour a mere handful of the hundreds who shaped the last year at Western. Some of these names you’ll know by heart. Others, you may need a little help to remember.
So, join us on the following pages spotlight, in brief words and striking images, the accomplishments of some of our favourites from the last year.
For the first time in the competition’s history, Western counted itself among Canada’s Top 100 Employers. The 14th annual Canada’s Top 100 Employers project is a national competition to determine which employers lead their industries in offering exceptional workplaces for their employees. The list was announced in October.
“Our faculty and staff deserve the credit for this honour,” said Amit Chakma, Western president. “One of the most attractive things about working at Western is the opportunity to work with the best, and be a part of teams that provide a high quality global education and conduct research that has impact around the world.”
The list featured some familiar organizations, but also many new winners – including Western – with more than a quarter of the list changing each year. With 4,700 full-time and 8,700 part-time employees, including employees such as Western Engineering’s Quazi Rahman, Karen Norman and Ron Morland, Western joined 3M Canada as the only honoured employer based in London; 45 of the 100 employers call Ontario home.
You couldn’t go anywhere in February without seeing or hearing about the Harlem Shake. These 30-second videos, featuring part of the 2012 song Harlem Shake by American electronic musician Baauer, became an opportunity to folks of all ages to let loose and show their crazy side. And Western was not immune to the fad. An impromptu performance in the atrium of the University Community Centre garnered more than 3.5 million views on YouTube, and inspired an entire residence and, yes, even a professor, to do the same.
Triple crown winner
Winner of the Governor General’s Bronze and Silver medals as a high schooler and an undergraduate, Frances Mackay completed the trifecta in November with a Gold medal honour for her brilliant career in the Applied Mathematics PhD program. At Western, Mackay went from earning her master’s degree in Astronomy with Scientific Computing for studying the disks surrounding stars to taking on the very difficult challenge of undertaking doctoral research in the area of complex fluids, in particular liquid crystals. Her work resulted in new standard techniques that have since been adopted into one of the most widely used molecular dynamics software packages.
Town and gown
While solid relations with the City of London are key to the university’s success, Western’s Chris Thompson helps give voice to the campus. An e-learning specialist at Western’s Continuing Studies, Thompson represents Ward 13 on London’s Town and Gown Committee, which serves as a forum for the exchange of information on issues and initiatives involving Western, Fanshawe College and the city. Thompson’s role as a staff member and student will certainly play a part in his role on the committee, which run through February 2015.
Just for kicks
As the Mustangs kicker for the last five seasons, it’s safe to say Lirim Hajrullahu will go down in history as one of the best to don the purple and silver. He leaves as the all-time Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) scorer (422 points) and Ontario University Athletics (OUA) career leader in field goals (77). He set Western records for most converts in a single game (11) and most points in a single season (130) as well as tied the OUA single-season record for field goals (22). He was named an OUA First Team All-Star as both a kicker and punter, and a Second Team All-Canadian as a kicker.
Bring them back alive and well
In February, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry professor Dr. Raymond Kao was named the Group Captain G. Edward Hall Chair in Military Critical Care Research at Lawson Health Research Institute. The chair, a Canadian first, is named after Western’s former Dean of Medicine and longest-serving president. Kao, a Navy captain in the Canadian Forces, is widely recognized for his research on erythropoietin, a hormone produced by the kidneys that stimulates the production of red blood cells and, in turn, hemoglobin. His findings have been used to stabilize wounded soldiers in the battlefield. Kao has been deployed to Afghanistan multiple times, most recently in 2011.
Nobel Prize winner
Former Western student and honorary degree recipient Alice Munro, LLD’76, won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature, becoming the first Canadian woman to receive the award since its launch in 1901. Munro, 82, only the 13th woman given the award, is considered one of the world’s greatest writers of short stories. Because Munro’s writing captures the imagination of the public, daring readers to see themselves in the intimacies of someone else’s life, and invites them to think beyond their limitations, beyond the borders of their town, their province, their country, Western announced it has committed $1.5 million to match donations to fund the Alice Munro Chair in Creativity.
A fitting tribute arrived at a fitting time for a legendary Mustang as Western honoured Jack Fairs, naming its squash courts after the coach, who led the men’s team to dozens of Ontario University Athletics championships – including 30 in a row. In August, a ceremony unveiling the Jack Fairs Squash Courts coincided with the eve of Fairs’ 90th birthday, marking also the start of a yearlong celebration of the centennial of Western athletics. Fairs joined Western’s faculty and coaching staff in 1947 and quickly established a reputation as a skilled and admirable instructor, coach and mentor.
Year of innovation
It has been quite a year for Michael Strong, dean of Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. His discovery of a genetic mutation in Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in January was followed by the announcement he will head a $15 million research project for the Ontario Brain Institute. He spearheaded the See the Line Initiative in August, bringing national attention to the subject of sports concussions, and solidified Western as a leader in treatment and research. Strong is also part of a team responsible for pushing the Medical Innovation and Commercialization Network, valued at $20 million, which could see big changes at Western’s Discovery Park.
A little classroom magic
Western muggles flocked to The Many Faces of Harry Potter, a new semester-long English course that looked at all seven books of the series, alongside thematically related short works of fiction, like George Orwell’s 1984. “In the last four years or so, there’s been more in-class engagement with the (Harry Potter) books. The clamour for this course gets stronger each year; the level of interest is extraordinary,” said Gabrielle Ceraldi, who has been teaching Children’s Literature for more than a decade, from year-to-year including Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone or Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. “These are the students who grew up reading the series. It was a formative influence on their lives.”
Can you dig it?
Facilities Management staff and construction crews were busy across campus this year with major new building and renovation projects. Among the major projects completed this year were: the new Richard Ivey Building for the Ivey Business School on Western Road; Ontario Hall on Sarnia Road; Clare Hall at Brescia University College; and the Western Centre for Public Health and Family Medicine on Richmond Street. Renovations to the Physics and Astronomy Building, the second oldest building on campus, were also completed this year after a three-year makeover. There were many other minor projects on the go with crews working all over to beautify and update Western’s campus.
Western alumna Saumya Krishna, BHSc’13, is not just one in a million; she’s one in 22. Earlier this month, Krishna was named one of 11 Canadian members of the 2014 class of Rhodes Scholars. She is only the 22nd member of the Western community ever so honoured.
With 83 new members from around the world named this year, Rhodes is the world’s pre-eminent graduate student award, offering two years of all-expenses-paid postgraduate study at Oxford University. Its 110-year tradition includes three Nobel Prize winners, as well as former Canadian Prime Minister John Turner and former U.S. president Bill Clinton.
“I am very humbled by this. I was surrounded by exceptionally talented finalists, who were also down-to-earth and genuine people,” she said. “I’ve realized the Rhodes Scholarship is beyond anything that can be ‘won’ or ‘deserved.’ It is a gift. I feel very fortunate to have been selected for it. I know a lot of responsibility comes with an opportunity, a privilege such as this.
“I am still thinking about how to live up to it.”
Cheers all around
The Western Mustangs cheerleading team added to its unprecedented run of Canadian championships Saturday, winning the 28th national championship in program history at the 2013 University and Open National Cheerleading Championships. This was the sixth consecutive title for the Mustangs, extending a streak that began in 2008. Since the inception of the Canadian championship in 1985, Western has won all but one of the national titles, taking the crown each year from 1985-2006, 2008-13.
‘O’ what a week
Western’s Orientation Week changed in 2013, becoming a more inclusive event that welcomed not just first-year students, as in the past, but all members of the campus community. Shifts in O-Week programming were the result of consultations between the Orientation Planning Committee, which includes representatives from Housing and Ancillary Services, affiliate colleges, Student Success Centre (SSC), International and Exchange Student Centre and several student leaders. Here, Rick Ezekiel, seated, the SSC’s experiential learning team coordinator, joins Rich Caccamo and Adam Smith of the University Students’ Council and Cassie Anton, SSC student engagement programs coordinator, who all played a role in revamping O-Week.