Convocation Awards Honour Excellence

June 12, 2012 - News Release

Prestigious University of Guelph awards for teaching, distinguished service and academic achievement will be presented during summer convocation this week.

Sociology professor Fred Evers will receive a Medal of Merit, awarded to a retiring professor for outstanding contributions to teaching and other areas to substantially improve the academic life and character of the University.

Evers is renowned nationally for his contributions to learner-centredness and competency-based education and his expertise on the transition from school to work. He helped lead development of academic programming for the integrated degree-diploma curriculum at the University of Guelph-Humber.

The W.C. Winegard Medal, U of G’s top undergraduate convocation award, will be presented to international development student Gracen Johnson. Named for former U of G president Bill Winegard, the award recognizes both academic achievement and contributions to campus and community life.

Johnson led a national initiative that gathered thousands of people on Ottawa’s Parliament Hill in 2009 for Fill the Hill: Climate Day. She organized a 2011 student vote mob on campus that sparked a national campaign urging youth to vote, and received the University’s Be the Change award that year for her advocacy initiatives. She was among 36 undergraduates selected nationwide for The Next 36, a competitive program for future entrepreneurs. This year she was named as the Young Woman of Distinction by the Guelph YMCA-YWCA.

The Forster Medal, U of G’s top convocation award for graduate students, goes to PhD biomedical science student Chris Charles. The award is named for the late Donald Forster -- a former president of U of G -- and recognizes academic achievement, motivation, leadership and citizenship.

Charles investigated a novel “smiling iron fish” to help poor Cambodian villagers combat life-threatening anemia. He lived and worked in rural Cambodia, often travelling by boat between villages to collect blood samples. His solution is helping to reduce dietary iron deficiency, which affects one in three women in that country and about 3.5 billion people worldwide.

This year’s winner of the Walter Vaughan Medal is biomedical science PhD student Jordan Willcox. Named for a former secretary of Senate, the medal recognizes the contributions of a student member of Senate.

Willcox completed a B.Sc. in human kinetics and a master’s in physiology at Guelph. He was elected three times as the president of the College of Biological Science and was elected to Senate six times. He served most recently on the Senate Priorities and Planning Committee, and chaired the Honours and Awards Committee. He is a board member of the YMCA/YWCA (Guelph) and has served as an officer in the Canadian Forces reserves for eight years.

U of G will also present three Governor General’s Awards, created in 1873 by Lord Dufferin, Canada’s third governor general. The gold medal for the top graduate student goes to MFA student Paul Vermeersch. Silver medals for top undergraduate marks go to biomedical science major Natalie Binette and Daniel Recoskie, computing and information science. Allison Dykxhoorn, a student at U of G’s Kemptville Campus, will receive the bronze medal for top marks among Ontario Agricultural College diploma students.

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