During an evening of glitz and glitterati, Calgary's best and brightest were honoured on Wed, May 23, at the 2000 Calgary awards. Among them were a University of Calgary kinesiology professor and the U of C Environmental Management Committee.
"This is really quite an achievement," said Linnea Turnquist, spokesperson for the City of Calgary. "This is the city's best and biggest way to acknowledge a citizen's achievements. Whether through a corporation, an organization or on an individual's own merits, Calgary citizens need to be recognized for what they give back."
The EMC received an honourable mention in the Educational Institution category of the Mayor's Environmental Achievement Award, while associate dance professor Shirley Murray was a co-winner of the Mayor's Teaching Achievement award.
"This year, we had two categories with double winners," explained Turnquist. "It doesn't by any means diminish the fact that Shirley [Murray] is receiving it, they were just so different, they couldn't be compared."
The Calgary awards, presented to Calgarians since 1994, honour community members who make significant contributions to improving the quality of life of Calgarians. Award winners must meet the criteria for each category and be nominated to the Awards Committee, composed of five aldermen and Mayor Al Duerr. The 2000 Awards Committee received a record 110 nominations for 17 awards.
"Often the backgrounds and the reach and the effect that these [nominees] have on groups is very diverse," said Turnquist. "The decision becomes very difficult for the Committee."
The Teaching Achievement Award
Shirley Murray was nominated by Dean of Kinesiology Dr. Ron Zernicke on the strength of an impressive resume that included 37 different courses taught at the U of C and the prestigious position of Chief Choreographer for the opening ceremonies of the 1988 Olympic Games.
"We're ecstatic that she won the award," said Zernicke. "She's just one of those truly dynamic teachers."
In his nomination letter, Zernicke pointed to Murray's contribution to the creation of the collaborative degree between the faculties of Fine Arts and Kinesiology, as well as her extensive involvement and impact on dance pedagogy in Alberta as justification for her nomination.
Murray's reaction to winning the award was simple.
"It's just awesome!" she declared. "It almost doesn't feel right, because it's my profession and I do it as well as I can, but so do lots of other people. So it's over and above to get a city recognition for the work I do."
Murray, who has taught dance education at U of C since 1968, emphasized the importance of the Teaching Achievement award as a symbol of recognition of the role of educators.
"The future of our society is through well-educated, well-balanced individuals," she stated. "If we take the focus and funding from education to research, we're totally ignoring the texture and fabric of society, which is the human element."
Although Murray calls the Calgary Award a "fun bonus," she stated that she received her true reward last week. A former student left a note in Murray's mailbox thanking her for her passion and dedication.
"Your dedication to making the world a better place has meant so much to me and I feel I am a better person because of the things you have taught me," reads the letter.
"That is my ultimate aim," said Murray with immense satisfaction. "At heart, I am an educator and my tool is dance. Whether for education or personal development, it's a tool to help you be a better person by learning about yourself through the dance. I hope to pass that on to the students I teach."
Murray has seen the university through three decades of change and witnessed several shifts in educational philosophy, but said that staying true to her personal philosophy wasn't difficult.
"I just believe in what I'm doing so much," she stated. "You're not going to get rich in education, but as a fulfilling vocation, it's well worth not becoming rich. The awards happen, but things like the note in my mailbox are way more important. That's what counts to me."
Honourable Mention for the Environmental Achievement Award
For the Environmental Management Committee, the honourable mention in the Environmental Achievement category is a reason to continue the initiatives of the last six years. The EMC was nominated for its 1999 Annual Report, authored by EMC member Shelley Dixon and Environmental Design graduate student Leah Adair.
"Winning [the honourable mention] was quite a surprise," said Dixon. "We certainly did not expect something of this nature to come out of the report. It's an incredible achievement for the EMC."
Dixon also expressed appreciation of Adair's contribution to the report.
The EMC exists to carry out the U of C environmental policy established in 1995 by the Board of Governors, according to Tricia Grieef, Environmental Coordinator for Safety Services. Grieef nominated the EMC report for the Environmental Achievement award, pointing out that it is the first of its kind at the U of C and is one of the few environmental reports produced at academic institutions in North America.
"It was our first attempt to report on our progress, what we're doing and where we're headed," explained Grieef, who added that the report is a valuable communication tool for developing public awareness of the University's environmental progress.
"The report gives a little bit more insight to what our ecological footprint is," agreed Dixon. "It also initiates involvement from staff, students and faculty."
The Educational Institution award in the Environmental Achievement category was won by Fish Creek Environmental Learning Centre for their teaching and program initiatives, but the EMC's report is of great importance, said Turnquist.
"Everybody should think about the environment," she said. "But the environment needs as many advocates as possible because it doesn't have its own voice."
Though the EMC did not publish a report last year, Dixon said that the honourable mention was motivation for the EMC to continue striving for improved environmental performance.
"Now, we're going after the award!" she said. "This is just the beginning. We [the EMC] have a long way to go and I almost see the report as just the building blocks for the development of environmental management at the U of C."
The Calgary awards will be aired at 7 p.m. Thurs., May 24 and 11 a.m. Sun, May 27., on Shaw Cable 10.