It was standing room only at the annual Philosophy Department Awards Ceremony, held on April 12. Alumni, family members, friends, staff and faculty all showed up to pay tribute to this year’s winners. Gerry Callaghan, whose dry wit made him an excellent emcee for the event, commented that “I’ve been on the adjudicating committee for these awards for a number of years, and each year it gets harder to pick the winners from the pile of excellent nominees.”
As we do every year, the Department invited an alumna/us to say a few words about how studying philosophy has made a difference in their life since graduation. This year Rosilee Sherwood (MA 09, BA 07), now living in St. Catharine’s where she works as a teacher and is raising a young family, gave a thoughtful presentation that addressed, among other things, the way philosophy compels us to engage productively with people we disagree with profoundly on important issues, and the benefits that come with the resulting open-mindedness and tolerance.
Awards were presented to the top philosophy students in each year of the undergraduate program. This was the first full year that Women’s Studies has had its home in the Department, and the Department was able to offer up new awards for the best first year and the best upper year Women’s Studies students. Students received essay prizes for the three best undergraduate philosophy essays of the year, the three best philosophy graduate essays. Two named essay prizes were also awarded: the Sandra Burt Prize for the best essay by an upper-year Women’s Studies student, and the Angus Kerr-Lawson Essay prize for the best paper in American or Naturalistic Philosophy. There was an award for outstanding citizenship and contribution to the Department by an undergraduate student. And there was a short presentation recognizing three decades of outstanding contribution to Women’s Studies at Waterloo by Mary Synnott, who recently retired from her staff position as coordinator of Women’s Studies. (A full list of participants and more photos can be found here).
We were pleased to be able to have the awards presented to students by special guests Bob Ewen (BA ’71), a long-time benefactor of the Department, Sandra Burt, the first Director of the Women’s Studies Program, Marg Kerr-Lawson, widow of Angus Kerr-Lawson, and Mary Synnott. The event is made possible by generous donations to the Philosophy General Fund by alumni, faculty and friends of the Philosophy Department.