President's Community Impact Award inaugural recipients

Congratulations to the recipients of the President's Community Impact Awards!

In just 60 years, the University of Waterloo has become Canada’s most innovative university. In celebration of Waterloo’s 60th anniversary, these outstanding community leaders are the inaugural recipients of the President’s Community Impact Awards. These awards recognize those who embody the University’s spirit of innovation and contribute to making Waterloo region strong and prosperous.

Community Leaders

Sally Gunz

Sally Gunz

Sally Gunz, Professor, School of Accounting & Finance, has an impressive history of community leadership in downtown Kitchener.  Since the early 1980’s, Sally has advocated for neighborhood improvements such as changes to parks and property standards, lobbied against school closures, and tackled drug, prostitution and violence in downtown through leading a 100 person volunteer “Citizens on Patrol” program in partnership with Waterloo Region Police. 

“Sally readily offers her skills, knowledge, and strong sense of ethics in service of the community to defend the interests of, and improve the quality of life for, children and families of very diverse ethnic and social backgrounds, as well as persons with disabilities.” She served as the first co-chair of the Cedar Hill Community Group, and is the founder and coordinator of the Cedar Hills Soccer League, a free program for 70- 100 children each spring. For the past seven years, Sally has been a member of the Board of Belwood Lodge and Camp.

Idrisa Pandit

Idrisa Pandit

Idrisa Pandit is Associate Professor and Director of Studies in Islam at Renison University College at the University of Waterloo.  Idrisa founded Muslim Social Services, an organization that for the past ten years has served a wide range of needs for families, particularly in light of the influx of Syrian refugees in recent years.  A longtime member, her work has been instrumental in breaking barriers to address policy and procedural gaps in service alongside the Waterloo Region District School Board and Waterloo Regional Police.

She is known as an insightful and courageous advocate to promote respect and dialogue in our community; she is also a donor and hands-on volunteer.  Her work through the House of Friendship and the Chandler Mowat Community Centre has promoted food security, mental health, wellness, and community for newcomers, youth, and neighbours. “At the heart of her leadership is passion for inclusion, which drives her to affirm justice from a place of love and create a welcoming place for all.”


University champions

Mary Jane Patterson

Mary Jane Patterson

In her role as the Executive Director of REEP, the Residential Energy Efficiency Project, and beyond, Mary Jane Patterson is a longstanding champion of the University of Waterloo.  Mary Jane is an alumna of the University, having earned a Masters in Environmental Studies (2001). Both personally and professionally, Mary Jane is passionate about supporting UWaterloo students who are following in her footsteps as environmental stewards and advocates.

To date, Mary Jane has provided mentorship and employment opportunities to over 125 University of Waterloo students, through paid internships, volunteer placements, and experiential learning opportunities.  In fact, each year up to 20 students are involved with the organization.

A partner with the Faculty of Environment, Mary Jane is a frequent guest lecturer at the University; she has served as a judge for final projects in SEED, worked with geography students showcasing the REEP House, and critiqued policy briefs prepared by Environment and Resource Studies students. By ensuring access to REEP data for our students, Mary Jane has facilitated energy conservation research by supporting numerous honours, masters and PhD theses.

the Museum logo


Through its programs, THEMUSEUM aims to inspire the next generation of leaders who may well arrive at the University of Waterloo several years from now as prospective young scientists, engineers and software developers full of new and innovative ideas. 

THEMUSEUM champions the impact of the University of Waterloo in our community through acting as a “community stage” on which to showcase the remarkable ideas, knowledge and technology being produced by our students and faculty, and making them accessible to children and adults in the community.

Some recent partnership examples include:

  • Light Illuminated, a 2015 exhibit designed by University of Waterloo students from the Department of Physics & Astronomy and presented at THE MUSEUM;
  • Quantum: The Exhibition with the Institute for Quantum Computing in late 2016, now traveling across Canada; 
  • A Cause for Celebration exhibit during Canada150, with the Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre at St. Paul’s;
  • and the upcoming INTERACTION exhibit, a new media art and video games exhibition in partnership with faculty in the Department of Fine Arts.