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50th Anniversary Signature Event

A Celebration of 50 Years of Excellence

October 16, 2012 | The Crystal Garden

A Celebration of 50 Years of Excellence recognized the tradition of excellence in teaching, research and community service on which the University of Victoria was founded.

Thank you to the 350 friends of the university who gathered at the Crystal Garden to celebrate the university’s global and local community impacts, recognize our historic partnership with East China Normal University, and honour the achievements of five alumni who exemplify UVic’s values of excellence. We want to extend special thanks to our sponsors and proud supporters. Because of all of you A Celebration of 50 Years of Excellence was a success!

Learn more about the Anniversary Award recipients:

Alisa Smith

Alisa Smith

Alisa Smith

BA (History in Art), '94, Faculty of Fine Arts | MA (History), '97, Faculty of Humanities

A commitment to sustainability is central to UVic’s mission and core to teaching and research across the university. Alisa Smith personifies this commitment and has captured the imagination of consumers with the publication of The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating, which she co-authored with her partner, former University of Victoria student J.B. MacKinnon.

The book puts sustainability to the test as the authors describe the challenges and triumphs of spending 365 days living on food produced within a 100-mile radius of their Vancouver home. Released in 2007, the book, struck a chord amid concern about climate change – especially considering that so many groceries originate from a distance of 1,500 miles or more. The book also coincided with widening interest in the “locavore” movement and farmer’s markets.

The book received a national Cordon D’Or culinary literature award in the United States and a Canadian Culinary Book Award, as well as the Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Book Prize. Chapters/Indigo named it a best book of the decade. It is also reading material in colleges and universities across North America.

The 100-Mile Diet was also adapted into a TV series, The 100-Mile Challenge, hosted by the authors. It aired on Food Network Canada and Discovery Planet Green in the US, and in Europe and Asia.

Grand Chief Edward John, Akile Ch'oh

Akile Ch'oh, Grand Chief Dr. Edward John

Grand Chief Edward John, Akile Ch'oh

BA (Sociology), '74, Faculty of Social Sciences

UVic is dedicated to equal rights and dignity for all persons. Grand Chief Edward John Akile Ch’oh, who is a leading voice in Indigenous governance, business and community development – locally, provincially, nationally and internationally – exemplifies these values.

Chief John is a Hereditary Chief of Tl'azt'en Nation located at Nak'al Bun (Stuart Lake). After completing his University of Victoria undergraduate degree, he received his law degree from UBC and embarked on a working life that remains focused on the pursuit of social and economic justice for Canada’s Indigenous people.

His legal and constitutional expertise contributed to several landmark court decisions, including the 1990 Sparrow case in which the Supreme Court of Canada acknowledged that Aboriginal rights are protected within the Constitution Act.

Chief John has led job and economic development, language protection, community and family development efforts. His involvement with UVic includes service on the committee to form the Aboriginal studies programs in the School of Public Administration, in which he taught.

Internationally, he participated in the development of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2007. He is currently the chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Chief John holds honorary degrees from UVic and UNBC and is a member of UVic’s 50th Anniversary Honorary Cabinet.

Tamara Vrooman

Tamara Tamara VroomanVrooman

BA (History), '91, Faculty of Humanities | MA (History), '94, Faculty of Humanities

Educating socially responsible leaders for the public and private sector is a UVic tradition. Tamara Vrooman’s accomplishments exemplify UVic’s commitment to thoughtful leadership and affirm that the health and wealth of society are inseparable.

As the chief executive officer of Canada’s largest credit union, Tamara Vrooman is responsible for ensuring Vancity fulfills its vision of redefining wealth for members and communities. Her recent success builds on her prior career in the British Columbia public service.

Overseeing Vancity’s $16-billion balance sheet, she helped the credit union achieve, in 2011, the best earnings performance in its 65-year history. Under her leadership, Vancity has also become the first carbon neutral credit union in North America and the first Canadian financial institution invited to join the Global Alliance for Banking on Values.

Previously, as deputy minister of finance for BC, Tamara Vrooman led successful public service contract negotiations and helped the province achieve two AAA credit rating upgrades. She also oversaw the government's annual $100-billion borrowing and cash requirements and development of the government's $36-billion fiscal plan.

A recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for Outstanding Public Service, she was also named three times to the Women’s Executive Network: Top 100 Most Powerful Women list. In 2008 she received the UVic Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

Paul Nicklen

Paul Nicklen

Paul Nicklen

BSc (Biology), '90, Faculty of Science

UVic values interdisciplinarity as a means of enriching our understanding of the world and of kindling fresh perspectives. Paul Nicklen’s use of the arts to translate science is characteristic of the connectivity across disciplines that is valued at the university.

One of the world’s foremost nature photographers, his breathtaking images bring readers an appreciation of the beauty of the world’s polar regions and a deeper understanding of the threat that global warming poses to these sensitive ecosystems. He’ll place himself in the most trying of situations, in the harshest conditions, in order to capture an image. He has gone ice diving with leopard seals in Antarctica and mastered the art of taking aerial shots from his ultralight plane.

Paul Nicklen has published 11 stories for National Geographic, including 2011’s August cover story on the elusive spirit bear. His latest book, Polar Obsession, was published by National Geographic in November 2009 and was in its third printing within months of publication.

He has received more than 20 international awards, including five awards from World Press Photo (including Nature: First Prize Story 2010), three from Pictures of the Year International, two from Communication Arts, and 10 in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.

He’ll place himself in the most trying of situations, in the harshest conditions, in order to capture an image. He has gone ice diving with leopard seals in Antarctica and mastered the art of taking aerial shots from his ultralight plane.

Paul Nicklen has published 11 stories for National Geographic, including 2011’s August cover story on the elusive spirit bear. His latest book, Polar Obsession, was published by National Geographic in November 2009 and was in its third printing within months of publication.

He has received more than 20 international awards, including five awards from World Press Photo (including Nature: First Prize Story 2010), three from Pictures of the Year International, two from Communication Arts, and 10 in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.

His TED2011 talk and appearances on television shows such as Jeopardy and in YouTube videos receiving millions of hits have put him in the spotlight.

Paul Nicklen’s passion for documenting the effects of climate change on oceans and other environs aligns with UVic’s own research in this area. The university shares his commitment to sustainability and is proud to include him among our alumni.

Stephanie Dixon

Stephanie Dixon

Stephanie Dixon

BA (Psychology), '09, Faculty of Social Sciences

The University of Victoria strives to instill perseverance and a commitment to excellence in all its graduates.  These qualities lie at the heart of Stephanie Dixon’s accomplishments.

Among her many strengths is Stephanie Dixon’s capacity for embracing life with a positive, inspiring attitude that has led her to the very height of her sport and today inspires a new generation of young athletes.

Born in Ontario, she came to the University of Victoria for two main reasons: to be a part of the Vikes swimming team and to take advantage of the west coast’s outdoor recreation opportunities. She quickly emerged as one of the great athletes in Vikes history, breaking world records early in her career and earning UVic’s Female Athlete of the Year honours on two occasions.

Her success in international competition is nothing short of remarkable. Competing in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Paralympic Games she reached the medal podium 19 times.

Apart from her swimming career, Stephanie Dixon is especially proud of her capability to inspire others. There really isn’t any sport she won’t try: surfing, cycling, skiing, climbing are all part of her repertoire.  Now, leading the young swimmers she coaches in Whitehorse, she instills in them a love of sports and the lifelong benefits athletics can have on an individual’s self-esteem and wellness.




Event photos

Browse a selection of photos from the event.

Chancellor Farmer on stage. Credit: UVic Photography President Turpin on stage. Credit: UVic Photography Grand Chief Edward John, Akile Ch’oh's speaks to the audience. Credit: UVic Photography Alisa Smith accepts her Anniversary Award. Credit: UVic Photography Minister of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology, the Honorable John Yap. Credit: UVic Photography Tamara Vrooman accepts her Anniversary Award. Credit: UVic Photography Aaron Nicklen accepts an Anniversary Award on behalf of his brother Paul Nicklen. Anniversary Award recipient Stephanie Dixon. Credit: UVic Photography. Anniversary Award recipients: Stephanie Dixon, Aaron Nicklen, Alisa Smith, Tamara Vrooman, Grand Chief Edward John, Akile Ch'oh.
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