York’s 2006 Bryden Alumni Awards dinner was full of surprises

York hosted 200 alumni, faculty, staff and friends at the annual Bryden Alumni Awards dinner on Nov. 9 to celebrate five graduates for their leadership and achievements: Chandra Siddan (BEd ’03), Aidan Flatley (BA ’78), John Lennox (BA ’67), Chantal Hébert (BA ’76), and Andrew Craig (BFA ’93).

 Above: 2006 Bryden winners, from left: Aidan Flatley, Chantal Hébert, John
 Lennox , Chandra Siddan and Andrew Craig

Held at the Design Exchange in downtown Toronto, the gala featured CBC broadcaster Barbara Budd (BA ’74), who returned as master of ceremonies, and an opening performance by singer and songwriter Molly Johnson.

“The 2006 Bryden Awards dinner was an evening of surprises,” said Naguib Gouda, executive director of alumni & advancement services and York’s host of the evening. “Molly Johnson invited Andrew Craig on stage to accompany her on a couple of jazz numbers, and gave us the chance to experience his talent first hand. Astronaut Steve MacLean (BSc ’77, PhD ’83) made his first appearance at a York event since his voyage into space earlier this year.

“And in our big surprise of the evening, we caught Barbara Budd off guard by awarding her a long overdue York diploma – something she never received because she has had a book out from the library since 1974. Barbara has done so much volunteering for York we felt it was time to do something about it, and bought a new book for the library,” said Gouda.

Above: York President & Vice-Chancellor presents a long-overdue diploma to
broadcaster Barbara Budd (BA ’74)

The award presentations that followed featured insightful speeches by the 2006 Bryden Alumni Award recipients. Each award recipient was also profiled in a dynamic video segment before the award was presented to them (to view the videos, visit the Alumni Web site).

Chandra Siddan – community organizer, filmmaker, and founder and coordinator of the Regent Park Film Festival – was presented with the Redefine the Possible award. She spoke of the political community that she found at York, and thanked the University for being the first and only educational institution to recognize her accomplishments.

Left: Naguib Gouda (left), award winner Chantal Hébert and Guy Burry (BA ’82), Chair of the York University Alumni Association

Aidan Flatley – a consummate leader, hands-on volunteer and generous benefactor – received the Outstanding Contribution award. In his speech, he joked that if he had the chance to return to York, he would take singing and music so that he could perform like Molly Johnson and Andrew Craig.

John Lennox – an outstanding scholar and academic administrator who won the Local Hero award – spoke of the lasting impression that York made on him as a student in the early 1960s. He also told the audience about a connection to York’s Keele campus that is rooted in his family’s history of farming in Downsview since the mid-1800s.

Chantal Hébert – a renowned, bilingual national affairs writer and political commentator who received the Pinnacle Achievement award – spoke of how York prepared her for a career as a journalist, and quipped that she has had the best years of her life after university – not during – because her Glendon experience gave her access to life in the public realm.

Andrew Craig – a highly accomplished musician, vocalist and media personality who won the One-to-Watch award – made a beautiful tribute to the women in his life, giving special thanks to his mother, who attended, for fostering his education and musical talent. He went on to honour his York professors, whom he called music masters and spoke of his enduring respect and admiration for their work.

Left: Andrew Craig

The evening closed with speeches by Lorna R. Marsden, York president & vice-chancellor, and Marshall Cohen, Chair, York University Board of Governors. Marsden lauded the award winners, and spoke about the excitement of receiving an e-mail from space sent by Steve MacLean. Cohen closed the evening with a speech about the growth of York pride, and jokingly admonished MacLean for not wearing a York sweatshirt during his space walk.

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, manager, alumni communications.