First recipient of Lynda Tam Guiding Light and Legacy Award announced

Vari Hall
Vari Hall

The Advising Community of Practice and Peer Leader Community of Practice announces Lara Ubaldi, director, student advising and academic services at York University, has been awarded the inaugural Lynda Tam Guiding Light and Legacy Award.

This annual award has been established in honour of Lynda Tam, a long-serving leader at York University. Tam was the first assistant dean, students in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design (AMPD) where she had a profound impact on the student experience through shaping student services, advising and peer mentoring programs. Her commitment to students and their success was part of her everyday practice. Through her creative and imaginative approach, she developed programs and initiatives that helped students excel and reach their academic, personal and professional goals. Tam exemplified student service excellence across York University. She was a coach and a guiding light to students, staff and faculty. As a founding co-Chair of the Peer Leader Community of Practice and as a campus leader in advising, Tam’s impact on students and student services staff was far-reaching and continues today.

Lara Ubaldi
Lara Ubaldi

After learning of the establishment of the award, a group of advising colleagues from across various Faculties nominated Ubaldi for the award. “Like Lynda, Lara’s strategic vision and commitment to improve the student experience on campus is remarkable. Lara’s outstanding leadership and mentorship has created a supportive and empowering learning environment for advisors to perfect their craft,” said Suzy Ribiero, advising coordinator in the Faculty of Science. “Not only does Lara embody the same love and passion for York University that Lynda had, but she also exhibits Lynda’s creativity, imagination, and ability to positively guide others and programs to deliver student service excellence.”

Catherine Salole, a member of the selection committee, said the nomination for Ubaldi was compelling. “Lara’s impact on the academic advising at York is vast and her efforts and leadership have focused on professional development, community building and coordination of advising systems and practices across the University,” said Salole. “As a result of her vision and her ability to inspire others to mobilize change, the Advising Community of Practice was formed. Over the years, and through Lara’s constant nurturing, this community group has proven to be an exemplary example of pan-University collaboration and has resulted in activities such as an annual advising conference, the YU Advise professional development series and improved advising tools such as the Advising Dashboard and recently the Civitas Inspire advising tool.”

AMPD student Madeleine Gagnon with her artwork, commissioned for the Lynda Tam Guiding Light Award
AMPD student Madeleine Gagnon with her artwork, commissioned for the Lynda Tam Guiding Light Award

Each year and as part of the award, art will be commissioned by the selection committee from an AMPD student who will receive a stipend from the Faculty. This year, Ubaldi received art commissioned from fifth-year student Madeleine Gagnon. After hearing about Tam’s impact and Ubaldi’s accomplishments, she was inspired to paint “two silhouettes: one wearing a graduation cap and the other (advisor) motioning towards a series of paths in the distance. One path is lit up as the guiding light to a brighter future.” 

The award was presented to Ubaldi during a surprise Zoom meeting and included members of the advising community, her nominators, Vice-Provost Students Lucy Fromowitz, and a video message from Tam’s daughter, Jocelyn.

Lynda Tam
Lynda Tam

After receiving the award, Ubaldi said, “Lynda Tam was my mentor and friend and very much influenced my career and practice at York. I am honoured and humbled to have an award in her name and to be recognized by my colleagues in this way. I have proudly hung Madeleine’s art in my office.”

Nominations are now open for the 2022 Lynda Tam Guiding Light and Legacy Award. Nominations are due Feb. 4, 2022. University community members are encouraged to recognize an outstanding advising, peer leadership and/or student services colleague by submitting a nomination at https://winters.ampd.yorku.ca/awards/.

More on Lynda Tam’s legacy can be found here.