A dual celebration of excellence by CCGES

The Canadian Centre for German & European Studies (CCGES) hosted a double celebration at 280 York Lanes on Nov. 26. The event welcomed the centre’s new director, Klaus Rupprecht, and provided a venue for the presentation of the Fifth Annual BMW Canada Award for Excellence to Matthew Bera, a graduate student at the centre.

Above: From left, CCGES director Klaus Rupprecht, York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri, Matthew Bera, BMW Group president & CEO Lindsay Duffield and Stan Shapson, York VP Research & Innovation

York President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri offered an official York welcome to Rupprecht. Shoukri praised Rupprecht’s unique combination of “academic expertise with a long and distinguished career as a diplomat”. Shoukri also congratulated Bera, describing him as “an impressive scholar and precisely the kind of student and person whom the centre and York attract, and whom we want to foster.”

Rupprecht, who holds a PhD in law and speaks six languages, comes to York after a diplomatic career that spans more than 30 years. His most recent position was consul general of the Federal Republic of Germany in Toronto. He was also a fellow at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and the director general of the German Institute Taipei in Taiwan.

Supporting research in German and European studies, CCGES also promotes graduate training and community outreach. In his remarks, Rupprecht said he will work to “raise the visibility of the centre within and beyond the York community as a place of excellence and outstanding academic talent, develop closer ties to diplomatic, private and cultural communities and focus the research agenda of the centre and raising funds to support that research."

Right: Matthew Bera

“This isn’t simply a celebration of my start here at York. It’s an occasion to celebrate the contribution that BMW has made to the centre in the form of the BMW Canada Award for Excellence,” said Rupprecht. The BMW Canada Award for Excellence honours outstanding achievements and accomplishments of students in German and European studies.

Lindsay Duffield, president & CEO, BMW Group Canada, and a member of the board of directors of the York University Foundation, presented the award to Bera. He equated the auto company’s “drive for excellence with the drive for excellence in scholarship the award symbolizes”. Duffield described Bera as a committed and gifted scholar. 

A graduate student at York University, Bera’s research examines the culture, conflicts and lobby efforts of professional business managers of formal German industrial associations between the two world wars. Bera thanked Duffield for the award and for the keepsake, a miniature model of a 6-Series BMW which he described as “the prettiest award I’ve seen in academia”. Bera noted the benefits both of the award and of the assistance provided by the CCGES: enabling him to travel to Germany to do his research, helping to mediate between governments and funding agencies and putting him in contact with other academics from a wide variety of disciplines who have been “enormously important to my work – economists, sociologists, fine arts people and business management specialists”. 

Above: From left, Paul Marcus, president & CEO, York University Foundation; Mamdouh Shoukri; Lindsay Duffield; Lorna R. Marsden, York president emerita

Bera also thanked BMW Canada for a secondary benefit. Working in the liberal arts exposes one to others who likewise spend their time “writing, thinking and talking”. He said his research has “brought him into contact with people, particularly in Germany, who make and do things. The opportunity to meet individuals from firms, manufacturing plants and industrial associations has been especially important to me.”

Visit the CCGES Web site for more information on the centre.

Submitted to YFile by David Wallace, communications officer, York University Foundation.