Awards Night 2013

By Fenton Chin

UTAGA and the Geography and Planning Department’s 19th annual Awards Night took place on November 7th at Victoria College Alumni Hall. This year, as always, it was very well-attended.

The Outstanding Service Awards were presented to Auvniet Tehara, Geoffrey McGrath, and Joyce Kwong, all of whom work for the Planning Alumni Committee (“PAC”), securing sponsors for annual PAC Spring Social, and supporting planning students through workshops, mentoring, and events.

The title of Distinguished Alumnus was bestowed on Daniel Hiebert, who’s now a Social and Cultural Geography professor at the University of British Columbia. After receiving his Master’s and Doctorate degrees from UBC, he engaged himself in research of immigration and its effects on the transformation of neighbourhoods.  He has also served on agencies at all levels of government.  In his address, he thanked many of the department’s faculty for the support that he received during his graduate studies here, and vowed to continue his work.

The Honorary President Award was given to yours truly.  Rather than repeating or summarizing what I told the audience that night, I prefer to think about how things would have been if I had NOT been so actively involved with UTAGA.  One of the biggest consequences would be, simply, the fact that I would have lost the chance of working with some of the nicest and smartest people who I’ve ever known in this city.  In fact, Professor Meric Gertler, who was formally and officially installed as the University of Toronto’s 16th President, during a ceremony on that very same day as Awards Night (and so far, the only faculty member from the Geography Department to have become the president), said, during his speech, that the biggest strength in this university and this city is its people; specifically, the diversity of its people.

It’s too bad that President Gertler was not able to attend Awards Night this past year—the timing of both events was just not right.  But, I would like to encourage all of our alumni, who read this, to consider, as I still do to this day, what wonderful, rare opportunities you may miss if you choose not to stay connected with your alma mater.

To nominate the next UTAGA award winners, send the name of a worthy individual (such as a former classmate or graduate), along with a written citation, explaining why you think he/she deserves an award, to the UTAGA office, no later than April 30, 2014.