Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs 519 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

May 10, 2006

U of G Faculty, Staff, Grads Among Women of Distinction

Six members of the University of Guelph community have been named recipients of the YMCA-YWCA’s 2006 Women of Distinction Awards. The 11th annual awards ceremony was held Thursday at the River Run Centre, with several hundred people attending.

Forty-six women were nominated for their achievements in eight categories: arts and culture; business, labour, the professions and entrepreneurs; education, training and development; public service; science, technology and research; voluntary community service; wellness and health; and young woman of distinction. In addition, four women were honoured for lifetime achievement from among the various categories.

Virginia Gray, director of U of G’s Office of Open Learning, received a lifetime achievement award in education and training. Gray’s career in education spans more than 35 years, and under her leadership, Open Learning’s offerings have grown from 55 to 208 degree courses, and enrolment in distance courses has surpassed 17,000, with students coming from more than 50 countries. She also helped create the Science @ Guelph Experience (S@GE), which introduces students in grades 7 and 8 to science and university life.

Another lifetime achievement award went to Dr. Margo Mountjoy, a sports medicine physician who works with the University’s Health and Performance Centre. She was recognized for her voluntary community service and for being a local, national and international advocate for sports and fitness. A former competitive synchronized swimmer and the team physician for the Canadian Olympic synchronized swimming team, she is the first Canadian and the first women to serve as chair of the Fédération Internationale de Natation, the international federation that governs all aquatic sports. She is also the first female member of the International Olympic Committee’s Sports Medicine Committee.

Cyndy McLean, director of U of G’s Health and Performance Centre, received the award for voluntary community service award. She is a national ambassador for the Rick Hansen Foundation and was instrumental in bringing to Guelph the annual Wheels in Motion fundraising event, which has raised more than $40,000 in the past two years to help local residents with spinal cord injuries. McLean also volunteers to help families who have loved ones with disabilities and is an outspoken advocate of the need for education, research and improved accessibility.

“It was tragedy that brought me to the Rick Hansen Foundation,” said McLean, a former marathon runner and elite-level athlete who became paraplegic in 2003 after falling more than 100 feet off a cliff. But life-changing incidents can offer new beginnings, she said, adding that she now encourages the people she mentors to look at the roadblocks in their lives merely “as speed bumps.”

The science and technology award went to Prof. Moira Ferguson, chair of the Department of Integrative Biology. Ferguson, who is also a U of G graduate, is the first woman to chair a department in the College of Biological Science. She was recognized for her contributions as a scientist studying genetics and evolution, as an educator and for her service to the broader scientific community.

Cathy MacMillan, a 1991 BA graduate of Guelph, received the award for business, labour, the professions and entrepreneurs. She was lauded for being a role model for women in business as the owner and chief operating officer of MacMillan Marketing Group, which has a primarily female workforce. MacMillan is also active in numerous volunteer community groups.

Another U of G graduate, Philomena Bonis (B.Sc. ’86) was honoured in the education and training category. An award-winning teacher, she is known for encouraging students, especially girls, to follow non-traditional career paths. Bonis is the first public school teacher to be accepted into the prestigious International Space University in Pomona, Calif.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982.

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