York University unveiled a permanent display of award winners’ names Monday in Vari Hall Rotunda as a way of recognizing some of the achievements of faculty, staff, students and alumni.
Comprised of glass panes in 10 tall panels at the north end of the rotunda, all the names of those who have received University-wide awards over the last five-plus decades are inscribed.
Above: Guests mingle at the unveiling of a permanent awards display at York
Patrick Monahan, vice-president academic & provost, who spearheaded the initiative, said “It’s not an ordinary display; it’s actually a work of art,” and it gives the University a way to “tangibly recognize our most successful and our most accomplished members of the community.”
But that’s not all it does. “I think that this will be recognition of accomplishments not only of the people who are recognized here, but of the entire University. It will give us a sense of the tradition and pride that we have,” said Monahan. “It reminds us that what we do today builds on the work of our predecessors.”
As York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri said, “It is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate excellence at York University. We are a young and vibrant institution with our best years ahead of us, and all of these people have helped to build it to what it is today.”
The display, which was two years in the making, is in a visible space, inside what is considered the front door of the University, where most people come and go on a daily basis. “I really think recognition, and particularly physical recognition, is very important,” Monahan added.
Right: Mamdouh Shoukri (second from left) pulls the cord to unveil the recently designed awards display, as Patrick Monahan (left), Sheila Forshaw, David Tsubouchi, George Fallis and Irvin Studin look on
Several award winners spoke at the ceremony to unveil the display. One of them was York alumnus and Board of Governors member David Tsubouchi (BA ’72, JD ’75), a recipient of the Bryden Leadership Award in 2003. Tsubouchi spoke about York as an important institution. “I was 17 when I first stepped on this campus…Like a lot of the students who come to York University, I was the first person in my family to come to university. We were an ordinary working class family. I came to York because York was not an elitist University…you could earn your way if you really worked hard…This is a great institution of equality.”
York alumnus Irvin Studin, a recipient of the 1999 Murray G. Ross Award and the 2011 Governor General’s Gold Medal, said it’s important for every institution to build, look back and benchmark, then look ahead. He hopes the display will encourage and inspire students as they gaze at the list of the Wayne Gretzky’s of the academic world.
Left: From left, Mamdouh Shoukri, Patrick Monahan, George Fallis, Sheila Forshaw, David Tsubouchi and Irvin Studin in front of the newly unveiled awards display
The installation displays the name of all those who have received a President’s University Wide Teaching Award, President’s Research Excellence Award, President’s Staff Recognition Award, Governor General’s Gold and Silver Medals, Murray G. Ross Award, Bryden Alumni Award and the title of Distinguished Research Professor or University Professor.
University Professor George Fallis, who also spoke at the unveiling, said having a permanent display is “more than about personal recognition; it’s about history, it’s about community, it’s about names of the past. These plaques add history, they add connections, and I hope length and breadth.”
Sheila Forshaw, executive officer of Sport & Recreation and winner of a 2011 Bryden Local Hero Award, as well as a 2011 President’s Leadership Award, told those gathered, “Public displays and ceremonies of this nature are a constant reminder of the people who have gone before us and of our proud history. The people you see on display truly are champions of York.”
The firm, Entro | G+A, designed the display, while WSI Sign Systems Ltd. & KING Architectural Products manufactured it. Planning & Architectural Design Services in York’s Campus Services & Business Operations, however, was integral to the whole process, developing design concepts, working with the design and manufacturing companies, and facilitating the project.
By Sandra McLean, YFile deputy editor