Founders' Day 2024 - Celebrating our History

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Originally scheduled to take place in January each year, Renison’s Founders’ Day celebration has evolved throughout the past sixty years to better meet the needs of our community. Founders’ Day has traditionally fallen on January 14, in alignment with the College’s Charter Day (January 14, 1959). An argument could be made, however, for October 16, which was the official opening date of Renison’s original two-storey, seven room house at 193 Albert Street. 

In recent years, the Founders’ Day celebration has been held in May in order to avoid the unpredictable weather patterns that can often accompany our winter months. At the outset of the pandemic, Renison introduced a hybrid version of this storied celebration. The online option was introduced as a health precaution, but it afforded the additional benefit of allowing alumni and friends from far and wide to attend. Due to its popularity, we have continued this tradition. This year’s event will be held on Wednesday, May 22 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm; the formal portion of the event, including the conferring of honours, will be accessible online beginning at 7:00 pm EST. You will also find an online auction with a variety of items available for bid, with all proceeds going to student scholarships, awards and bursaries. 

See all of the event and auction details by visiting the Founders’ Day webpage. We hope that you’ll be able to join us either in person, or online. 

One of the traditions of Founders’ Day that has not changed is the bestowing of Renison honours on members of our community. This year we have an incredible line up of honorees: 

The Albert St. house that was the original location of Renison College when it opened in 1959.

The original Renison location, a house on Albert St. near the University of Waterloo

Distinguished Alumni

Distinguished Alumni awards are granted to persons who, having graduated from academic programs administered by the College or lived in residence at Renison for two terms within one academic year, have pursued and gained notable recognition in a subsequent career. 

This honour has become very difficult to designate in recent years, owing to the incredible achievements of our alumni. This year, the committee decided on two award recipients due to the depth of the nominations. 

Nauroz Tanya (right) is an internationally recognized composer who arrived in Canada from Kurdistan in 2010 as a Refugee with $200 to his name. Nauroz is the epitome of the strength of the human spirit and is an incredible testament to the quality of education and English Language training provided through Renison’s English Language Institute. After completing his English language training at Renison, Nauroz went on to earn a Master’s degree and is currently working on his doctorate. 

Nauroz Tanya headshot

Nauroz Tanya

Ajirioghene Evi standing in front of a colourful wall.

Ajirioghene Evi

Ajirioghene Evi (left) graduated from Renison’s SDS and BSW programs and went on to earn her Master of Social Work from Western University. Ajirioghene gives generously of herself to the broader K/W community, both through her professional activities and through her volunteer services. She is the Executive Director of Kind Minds Family Wellness (KMFW), a non-profit organization in K/W committed to Afrocentric / culturally grounded counseling, education, employment, and research advocacy that addresses anti-Black racism and systemic oppression; she is an independent consultant for the Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children; she is a community engagement analyst for the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies; and a part-time faculty member at Wilfrid Laurier University. She also works as a field instructor for Renison, helping to shape and mentor our future graduates. 

Young Alumni 2024

The Young Alumni designation recognizes recent graduates of Renison University College who, having graduated from academic programs and/or Community and Professional Education (CAPE) programs or courses administered by the College within the past 10 years, or having lived in residence at the College for at least two terms within the past ten years, have made significant contributions to their field, either through academic achievement or service to the community. 

Aurra Startup (right) is a first-generation university student who overcame many obstacles to find her place in Renison’s Social Development Studies program where she excelled in her studies and stood out to many of her faculty, and SDS staff members, as a caring and compassionate individual who lives the values of Renison. Since graduating from Renison, she successfully completed her Master’s degree at Wilfrid Laurier in Social Justice and Community Engagement. Now a Ph.D. student at York University, Aurra works as a paid research assistant examining restorative justice and anti-racism in schools.

Aurra Startup holding a book open in front of the river. She is wearing a green headscarf and glasses, and is smiling at the camera.

Aurra Startup

John Neufeld headshot.

John Neufeld

Honorary Senior Fellow 2024

Renison’s equivalent to an honorary doctorate degree is the designation of Honorary Senior Fellow. Granted to individuals who have distinguished themselves in the wider community through significant contributions to Renison, the University of Waterloo, the Anglican Church, and / or the wider K/W community or the world. 

We are so pleased to announce that the recipient of this distinction is John Neufeld (left), the Executive Director of the House of Friendship since 2009. House of Friendship is a Waterloo Region-based nonprofit organization that provides food, housing, addiction treatment and neighbourhood support to individuals and families within Waterloo region. John graduated from Renison’s Social Development Studies program in 1996 and went on to earn his MSW from University of Toronto and his MBA from Wilfrid Laurier University. 

John and the House of Friendship continue to play a significant role in the life of Renison by offering placement opportunities for 4 to 5 Renison students per year; a practice which has been in place for well over twenty years. 

This is part of the 2024 Renison Reports publication. Return to the Renison Reports page for other articles.