WINNIPEG, MB – The University of Winnipeg today named its award winners of exceptional service, achievement and distinction. The five individuals comprising this year’s list of winners – Athar Ata, Earl Backman, Michael Benarroch, Vesna Milosevic-Zdjelar and Claudia Wright – personify excellence and achievement.
Athar Ata – Clifford J. Robson Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching
Athar Ata is an associate professor of chemistry at The University of Winnipeg, renowned for his energy and enthusiasm. Colleagues describe him as “the anchor of the chemistry program” at The University of Winnipeg. He has trained and mentored numerous students in his labs who have continued their academic success in research, published work and awards. A consummate researcher, Ata’s labs are known to engage, motivate and educate future chemists while instilling the highest education standards.
Earl E. Backman – Distinguished Alumni Award
Earl Backman (B.Sc.’68) recently retired after 35 years of public service in Manitoba. In February 1997, he became Chief Executive Officer of the Brandon Regional Health Authority, which was the only fully integrated Health Services Region in the province, having responsibility for delivery of a full spectrum of health care services directly to Brandon, and regionally to 180,000 people in Western Manitoba. Backman had previously served as city manager of the City of Brandon for 14 years, where he was responsible for all traditional city operations, the Municipal Airport and Fire/Emergency/Ambulance Services.
Michael Benarroch – Robin H. Farquhar Award for Excellence in Contributing to Self-Governance
Michael Benarroch’s commitment to the University is shown through his willingness to assume leadership. To date, he has been an active member of 36 committees, often acting as chair. His latest efforts have led to the development of the innovative new Faculty of Business and Economics – a unique blend of business and liberal arts curriculum designed to nurture the next generation of socially conscious business leaders. During Benarroch’s 16 years at the University, he has served The University of Winnipeg Faculty Association, and has taken up responsibilities on Senate and with the Board of Regents.
Vesna Milosevic-Zdjelar – The Marsha Hanen Award for Creating Community Awareness
This year’s winner of the Marsha Hanen Award is Vesna Milosevic-Zdjelar, a Physics Department professor whose passion for science education has led to several high-profile science outreach programs. One such effort is Let’s Talk Science – a program where University faculty and students visit area schools or host field trips to the University to promote science awareness and literacy, in a hands-on manner. She also assists with the organization of the Homework Club at the Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre, presents at conferences and symposia for science teachers, judges science fairs, serves as a mentor to numerous teachers and students, and speaks to several outside organizations.
Claudia Wright – Fellow of United College
Claudia Wright has been instrumental in the creation of two critically important new programs at The University of Winnipeg – the Aboriginal Governance program and the Urban and Inner-City Studies program. The University’s Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies when she retired in July 2007, Wright served the University community for more than 38 years as a faculty member and administrator. With the same dedication, Wright served the wider community, most notably in her commitment to human rights and multiculturalism. She was the Chairperson of the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, and was instrumental in introducing a new human rights code for Manitoba.
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Shawn Coates, Director of Marketing & Communications, University of Winnipeg
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