Performance and celebration mark 2005 Bryden Alumni Awards

An evening of performance, celebration and heartfelt speeches marked the 2005 Bryden Alumni Awards dinner, held last Thursday, Nov. 10, at the Design Exchange. York played host to 200 proud alumni and friends as the University honoured five graduates who set themselves apart from their peers through their leadership and achievements (see the Nov. 10 issue of YFile).

In what was clearly a new beginning for the Brydens, the event opened with a dance performance by former Cirque du Soleil artists Laurence Racine and Dominic Dagenais. Guests of choreographer and award recipient Debra Lynne Brown, the artists captivated the crowd with their eye-popping blend of music, dance and contortions.

Right: Performers Laurence Racine and Dominic Dagenais

Afterward, the event’s master of ceremonies, CBC broadcaster Barbara Budd (BA ’74) welcomed the audience to the event with music and video accompaniment, before introducing Naguib Gouda (MBA ’84), executive director of alumni and advancement services at York.

The Bryden Alumni Awards recognize York alumni in five revamped categories, and the format of this year’s event was also new. Each award recipient was profiled in a dynamic video segment before the award was presented to them. (Click here to watch the videos.)  “This year’s awards were revitalized to reflect the University’s fresh outlook as we approach our 50th anniversary in 2009,” explained Gouda after the event.

Left: Naguib Gouda during his welcome speech at the Design Exchange

The awards were presented throughout the evening, and Budd’s memorable voice, lively performance, and passion for York University kept the crowd laughing between presentations. Taking aim at the fact that three out of the five recipients graduated in 1973, Budd said, “Sadly, I graduated after all the good people left.”

The Pinnacle Achievement award was presented to Sandie Rinaldo (BA Hons. ’73), who gave a moving speech that described how York University transformed her life. Using the analogy from the film Sliding Doors, in which the outcome of a woman’s life depends on whether or not she catches a subway train home, Rinaldo outlined how choosing York affected her life. “Like those sliding doors, the decision to attend York University was a life-changing event,” said Rinaldo.

The Outstanding Contribution award was given to Helen K. Sinclair (BA ’73) for her support of York and Glendon College. She spoke about the vibrant atmosphere of political debate at York and the unforgettable October Crisis of 1970. She also matched Rinaldo, who had introduced her 94-year-old father, by introducing her own father – also 94.

Left: Barbara Budd

The One-to-Watch award was presented to Farouk Jiwa (MES ’03) for his groundbreaking sustainable business in Africa. “Nowhere but at York could we find the liberal Faculty of Environmental Studies working at the same table with the far more conservative Schulich School of Business,” said Jiwa of his course supervision.

The Local Hero paid tribute to Steve Dranitsaris (BA ’73), who reminisced about his life over four decades at York. The Redefine the Possible award was presented to Debra Lynne Brown (BFA Spec. Hons. ’78), who gave a powerful demonstration of the language of dance.

Right: Debra Lynne Brown (left), Steve Dranitsaris, Sandie Rinaldo, Helen K. Sinclair and Farouk Jiwa

During the reception held earlier in the evening, James Allan, director, alumni, and Guy Burry (BA ’82), Chair of the York University Alumni Association Board of Directors, presented two student scholarships which are sponsored by the York University Alumni Association.

Kim Tran from the Faculty of Science & Engineering received the Alumni Silver Jubilee Scholarship, while Andrew Dale, a first year student in the Schulich School of Business, received the Harry W. Arthurs Entrance Scholarship.

Left: Guy Burry (right) with Andrew Dale

“The kinds of alumni achievements we are celebrating tonight almost always have their roots in student excellence,” said Allan. “I would not be surprised if the recipients of these scholarships go on to win Bryden Awards someday.”

Who was Bruce Bryden?

R. Bruce Bryden (1943-1992) graduated from York University in 1964 with a BA in sociology and economics. Bryden’s commitment, respect and contributions helped shape York University. He became founding president of the York University Alumni Association (1965-1966) and was the alumni member of University Senate (1966-1968). In 1971, he joined the University’s Board of Governors, and in 1974 became a Fellow of McLaughlin College. Bryden served as the first alumni Chair (of only two) of the York University Board of Governors from 1982 to 1992.

This article was submitted to YFile by Marcus Parmegiani, alumni communications officer.