The University of Winnipeg



UWinnipeg recognizes exceptional faculty, staff, and emeriti

Join us in congratulating this years award recipients, Dr. Catherine Taylor, Dr. Ortrud Oellermann, Dr. Neil Besner, Ben Trunzo, and Gisele Vizza

Dr. Ortrud Oellermann, Dr. Neil Besser, Gisele Vizza, Dr. Catherine Taylor, and Ben Trunzo

The University of Winnipeg is honouring exceptional faculty, staff, and emeriti during our Spring Convocation on Thursday, June 9 and Friday, June 10. 

“We are extremely proud to recognize and honour these five individuals for their decades of service to the University,” said University of Winnipeg Chancellor Barb Gamey. “They have all had instrumental roles in helping thousands of students achieve their academic dreams throughout the years.” 

The individuals who will be recognized are: 

Dr. Catherine Taylor:  Professor Emerita 

Dr. Catherine Taylor is an award-winning researcher, scholar, and leader whose extensive work on sexual and gender diversity, and social justice within education has drawn national and international recognition, and directly informed policy and legal developments across the country. Her ground-breaking work has been supported with a series of prestigious Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) research grants, including three landmark projects on 2SLGBTQ+ expansive education that has changed the educational landscape.

These projects include the First National Climate Survey on Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia in Canadian Schools in partnership with Egale Canada Human Rights Trust, and the Every Teacher Project on 2SLGBTQ+ Expansive Education in collaboration with every major teacher organization in the public school systems of Canada. Taylor has been instrumental in developing comprehensive sexual orientation and gender identity policies at teacher associations and school boards across Canada. Her multi-faceted research approach — involving students, educators, school division directors and education professors — has resulted in 40 peer reviewed publications, five co-authored textbooks on academic writing, 20 reports and other publications, and 60+ peer reviewed national and international conference presentations.

Dr. Ortrud Oellermann:  Professor Emerita 

Dr. Ortrud Oellermann is a prolific researcher, esteemed academic, and highly rated professor whose ability to take complex ideas and ground them in clear and systematic reasoning has led to her being sought out by mathematicians around the globe. Her commitment to collaboration is evident in her work with other mathematicians. She has collaborated with 85 co-authors worldwide including high-calibre researchers such as Paul Erdös, Ron Graham, Fan Chung, Frank Harary and Gary Chartrand.

An internationally-recognized researcher specializing in graph theory, she has published over 150 papers, been cited over 1000 times, and has been invited to give numerous keynote presentations both nationally and internationally. Her work focuses on structural graph theory related to distance notions, graph connectivity and cycle structures of graphs. She pioneered several areas in graph theory such as the study of the average connectivity, Steiner intervals, and convexities defined in terms of Steiner intervals. Over the years, she has supervised over 40 research students and post-doctoral fellows. Her former students are employed in various mathematical professions all over the world; as professors, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and cyber security experts, to name a few.

Dr. Neil Besner:  Fellowship in United College 

Since Dr. Neil Besner joined the University of Winnipeg in 1987 and continuing after his retirement in 2017, he has maintained an impeccable record of service to UWinnipeg and the wider community. Besner’s name is synonymous with fellowship for his integrity, collegiality, love of language, and sharp wit. These attributes, combined with his notable contributions through scholarship, community, governance, and administration have left an indelible mark on UWinnipeg.

Nominated four times for the Clifford Robson Teaching Award, Besner also enjoyed a prolific and influential research career; has authored over 50 journal articles and book chapters; edited two special journal issues; served as the general editor of the Laurier Poetry Series; and published 10 books (as author, editor, or translator) in addition to his new memoir Fishing With Tardelli:  A Memoir of Family in Time Lost. He has held many senior administrative roles at UWinnipeg since becoming Chair of the Department of English in 1993. He was the founding Dean of Arts and served in several vice-presidential capacities. He retired in 2017 as Provost and Vice-President, Academic. In 2009, he was recognized with the Marsha Hanen Award for Creating Community Awareness and in 2019 he was named Professor Emeritus for his scholarly work, advocacy for liberal arts education, and longstanding commitment to UWinnipeg.

Ben Trunzo:  Clifford J. Robson Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence 

For more than three decades, Ben Trunzo has inspired students with his enthusiasm and unwavering passion for Kinesiology and specifically Athletic Therapy. He graduated from the University of Winnipeg in 1978 with BA in Psychology and then studied at University of Manitoba and the University of Alberta before returning to the UWinnipeg in 1986 as assistant athletic therapist, and a year later head athletic therapist, where he worked for two decades before becoming a full-time faculty member in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Applied Health.

Trunzo’s commitment to providing students with a practical and thorough understanding of the field is unrivalled. He is known for his challenging weekly quizzes, which have helped many students cultivate a greater understanding of kinesiology and athletic therapy. He motivates students to strive for excellence, and many say his high expectations propelled them to not only reach but exceed the goals they set for themselves.

His dedication to his craft is evident in his relationship with the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association (CATA), where he received a Distinguished Educator Award in 2013. After first joining as a student member in 1981, he was certified by CATA in 1987 and has since served on the board of directors, examination review and high-performance provider committees, ascending to the role of CATA president from 1992-93. In 2021, he was named to the CATA Hall of Fame. His positive influence has left a lasting impression and increased the University’s national reputation in the field of athletic therapy

Gisele Vizza:  Stars of Spence Street Prize 

Gisele Vizza’s compassionate leadership and dedication to student success has helped thousands of students from across the globe begin their studies at The University of Winnipeg. Over her 25+ year career, she has demonstrated strong leadership and creative problem solving while establishing deep connections with her colleagues and the students she supports.

Recognizing that the decision to apply for university is a milestone event in an individual’s life, she never loses sight of the significance of each application. She takes pride in UWinnipeg’s commitment to inclusive learning and goes the extra mile to provide invaluable guidance and support to ensure the admissions process is seamless and easy for students to understand. She will always take the time to meet with students, and works closely with the ASSC, IRSS, and World University Service Canada to develop seamless processes. Whether guiding student-athletes through the admissions process, or working with individuals in refugee camps, Gisele always takes the time to understand each student’s story and help them achieve their goals. Her dedication to student success is further demonstrated in her participation in student events. From student orientation to convocation, she is always the first to volunteer for extra projects.

In recognition of exceptional service, achievement, and distinction, The University of Winnipeg presents a variety of awards to deserving members of the University family and wider community twice annually at Convocation.  Find out more at 2022 Spring Convocation

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