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Donors and students recognized at Inaugural Awards Banquet

Thursday, March 9, 2017

A full dining room of people, from above

“I was going to welcome you on behalf of the Faculty,“ began Dean Jean Andrey, addressing the students, alumni, faculty, staff and donors assembled in Fed Hall’s beautiful dining room last night. “But then I realized, you ARE the faculty.” So commenced the inaugural Faculty of Environment Awards Banquet.

The event, which Dean Andrey acknowledged as “long overdue” was an opportunity to bring the faculty’s bright young student scholarship recipients face to face with the generous donors who have contributed to their success. It was also a chance to acknowledge the dedication of the faculty members, staff and alumni family who support both the academic and real-world impact the faculty has come to be known for, both locally and globally, over nearly five decades.

Speaking to the faculty’s incredible growth, Dean Andrey remarked that from 2006 to 2016, the faculty doubled in every way: from undergrad to grad, from coop to non-coop, and even in research. “So, we’re at a different place,” she noted. “But we’re still the same place.”

"We’re still a place that believes in interdisciplinarity, that bring together the natural and the social sciences and increasingly technology and business as well. And so, we really believe in this experiment, if you will, of ‘Can we do things together in a different way to address these important problems?’"

Sharing an analogy that kept her energized throughout her many years of teaching first-year stats, Dean Andrey said she saw her students as running down a track towards a hurdle. Her job, she explained, was to hold out her hands and give a lift to those who needed it, and to celebrate those who didn’t. “And that’s what all of you donors have done for our students, and continue to do,” she said. “You give them affirmation; you give them recognition, you give them financial support. You have been, with your hands out to them -- not just the institution, but to them -- you have been the lift.”

Speaking on behalf of students, despite her admitted nerves, first-year planning student, Miila Tuju said: “I have had such fantastic experiences here, and it’s all because of the support and the love from this faculty.” As the 2016 recipient of the Len Gertler Scholarship, Tuju recognized the impact of the donors, who support the aspirations of students like herself. “It is them who give us the resources and encouragement to go beyond what we know in the textbooks, the encouragement to go beyond our comfort zones, the encouragement to go and make the change we’ve been studying, we’ve been wanting, we’ve been hoping for in class.”

Showing comradery with his younger peer, alumnus Joe Guzzi admitted: “As a graduate of almost 29 years, I too am nervous.” Guzzi is a honourary member of the University of Waterloo Planning Alumni of Toronto (UWPAT) and was invited to bring remarks on behalf of donors. UWPAT has been raising money and supporting students in the School of Planning for more than 26 years, and Guzzi himself has been involved for 23 years. “When I was a student,” he reflected. “I recognised the benefits of interacting with professional planners, and it gave me a certain perspective that really contributed to my overall learning; the ability to see planning in the real world and to talk to real planners about it.” Through the Planner-in-Residence program and the annual UWPAT alumni dinner, it’s a tradition the organization continues. And the benefits go both ways. “These opportunities also allow us practicing planners to give back to the school. They allow us to engage the students, exchange ideas, and in some small way, to help prepare the planners of the future for all of the challenges we will face.”

VP Advancement Joanne Shoveller closed the evening recognizing the faculty’s remarkable growth and numerous accomplishments. “This institution has more than 14,000 ENV alumni worldwide in over 80 countries,” she said. “That’s an amazing accomplishment, and it’s incredible to have made that kind of impact. You are part of the past, present, and most importantly, part of the future, as you support these students and the vision that you all have of what they can be accomplishing for us in the future.”

This was the first of what will be an ongoing annual tradition. We look forward to recognizing and celebrating our growing community at the next Faculty of Environment Awards Banquet.

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