BMW presents excellence award to York student

The second annual presentation of the BMW Award for Excellence took place recently at York University’s Canadian Centre for German and European Studies (CCGES). The award is the first of its kind from BMW to York, and provides one exceptional student in the CCGES diploma program with a scholarship each year. This year’s recipient, Gülhanim Çaliskan, is a PhD candidate in sociology and a graduate diploma student of the CCGES. BMW Group Canada president and CEO Hendrik von Kuenheim presented Çaliskan with the award.

In introducing Çaliskan, CCGES co-director and event host Mark Webber described her as “an enthusiastic and committed participant in Centre activities who exemplifies the forward-looking approach our students take toward the study of Germany in its European context.”

Left: From left, Gülhanim Çaliskan with BMW Group Canada president and CEO Hendrik von Kuenheim

Çaliskan conducted her graduate work, which focuses on identity, gender, space and politics as conceptualized within human and feminist geography, in four cities – Ankara, Budapest, Toronto and Berlin. She received the prestigious German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Scholarship to study in Berlin.

“You are receiving this award because of your past success,” von Kuenheim told Çaliskan, “but you also have a responsibility to the future to continue with your research, to contribute to the Centre, and to work further on Canadian-German relations.”

In his recommendation of Çaliskan for this award, Engin Isin, Canada Research Chair in Citizenship Studies, praised her work ethic and achievements.

“Gül is the hardest working, most committed and resourceful student I have had the pleasure of supervising in my academic career,” Isin wrote. “Her scholarly commitment and academic integrity are absolutely awe-inspiring and I believe she will be amongst the best students we have graduated at York.”

Recognizing York’s leadership in the study of Canadian-German relations, BMW Group Canada forged a “partnership of excellence” with York in April 2003 through the creation of the BMW Award for Excellence at the CCGES. The award recognizes values in students that the CCGES and BMW proudly proclaim: innovation and excellence.


Right: From left, Paul Marcus; Hendrik von Kuenheim; Lorna R. Marsden; Gülhanim Çaliskan; Walter Schauer, vice-president, BMW Group Canada; and Mark Webber


Lorna R. Marsden, president and vice-chancellor of York University and host of the event, thanked BMW Group Canada and von Kuenheim for showing community leadership in creating an award that encourages the study of Canadian-German cultural ties in a global community. “The BMW Award of Excellence not only recognizes achievement by an exceptional student in Candian-German studies, it also highlights the ties between our two countries. We are proud to have BMW Canada as a partner in excellence and thank them for their recognition of York’s leadership in innovative cross-cultural research.”

Paul Marcus, president and CEO of the York University Foundation, presented von Kuenheim, who is a passionate scuba diver, with a book of photographs on underwater wildlife.

“Mr. von Keunheim and BMW push the limits of what is possible,” Marcus said. “We thank Mr. von Kuenheim and BMW Group Canada for celebrating excellence and innovation at York.”

In the first seven years of its existence, CCGES has established itself as the expert authority on German and European issues, and as Canada’s only national centre in this field. As a cooperative venture between York University, Université de Montréal and the German Academic Exchange Service, the centre is successfully preparing the next generation of Canadian experts on German and European issues.

Çaliskan, who intends to continue her work in Germany after giving birth to her first child, says the support she received from the centre was priceless, allowing her to take important steps in her career – although she doesn’t exactly see herself as “excellent”.

“Excellence borders on perfection and I don’t see myself as perfect,” she said. “I do feel as though I have a strong responsibility to give back to the centre and to those who have helped me, including BMW Group Canada. This support encourages me to achieve excellence and to go on with confidence and humility.”

This story was submitted to YFile by Carrie Brodi, communications officer with the York University Foundation.