Purkis, Weaver win 2012 Victoria Leadership Awards

- Tara Sharpe

UVic climatologist Dr. Andrew Weaver and Dr. Mary Ellen Purkis, dean of UVic's Faculty of Human and Social Development, are this year's recipients of the University of Victoria Community Leadership Awards. On Feb. 21 they were two of 29 nominees celebrated at the eighth annual Victoria Leadership Awards (VLA) gala at the Fairmont Empress Hotel.

UVic is a founding partner of the awards program. Leadership Victoria describes the VLAs as “our city’s very own Academy Awards for community volunteerism, dedication and achievement.” The UVic award acknowledges outstanding leadership in linking the university and the community for
greater public benefit.

Weaver, Canada Research Chair in Climate Modelling and Analysis, is one of the world’s foremost authorities on climate change and an internationally recognized leader in climate dynamics. He recently authored two books for a general audience: Keeping Our Cool (2008) and Generation Us (2011), the latter being a guide to global warming written especially for the younger generation. Weaver is also well known for his tireless efforts to engage the public on climate change issues.

“I was particularly honoured to receive this award from the community where I grew up,” says Weaver. “I was born in Esquimalt; I went to school in Victoria and Oak Bay; I live in Saanich now; and to be recognized like this by your community is just wonderful.”

Weaver has been a lead author on climate assessments by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which alongside Al Gore was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. His recent research on ancient climates has greatly expanded our knowledge of climate variability over the last 130,000 years. He has been named a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada as well as a member of the Order of British Columbia.

Purkis, born and raised in Calgary, has been an invaluable presence in her adopted community here on the coast since she moved to Vancouver Island in the 1990s. During her childhood in Alberta, her family strongly emphasized the value of making a commitment to community. Before moving to BC, and after completing her bachelor of nursing (University of Calgary) and a stint as an emergency room nurse in the same city, she literally took flight and spent eight years in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she completed two graduate degrees.

She moved to Victoria in 1993 and has devoted herself to her family and the Greater Victoria community, particularly through her work at UVic and her volunteer connections with the United Way and the Greater Victoria Eldercare Foundation.

“It was such a pleasure to be nominated for this award,” says Purkis. “In receiving it, I want to acknowledge how important it is for me to receive support from UVic—everyday—support that enables me to create bridges between our students, our teachers and our researchers with so many community partners so that together, we can really live community engagement.”

Purkis is one of the editors of the recently published book Prospective on Care at Home for Older People. Her research focuses on health care delivery and specifically on understanding the conditions necessary to support high-quality, inter-professional, palliative care teamwork. Prior to her current research within the context of cancer care, she has also focussed on in-patient surgical settings, the context of public health nursing, primary health care nurse-run centres and home nursing care.

All 29 VLA nominees—including Dean of UVic’s Gustavson School of Business Dr. Ali Dastmalchian, Becky Cory (University 101), Brian Richmond (fine arts/now with Blue Bridge Theatre), Prof. Emeritus Dr. David Chuenyan Lai (geography/now with Centre on Aging), Dr. David Zimmerman (history), Sara Wegwitz (Health Services), Susan Strega (School of Social Work), alumna Leslie Lee and student Ruth Fernandes, all of UVic—were celebrated at the gala event. Long-time UVic supporter and local businessman Naz Rayani was also presented with the 2012 Leadership Victoria Lifetime Achievement Award.

Leadership Victoria is a voluntary organization committed to developing, supporting, recognizing and honouring outstanding community leaders. The local program has graduated over 230 community champions who work collaboratively to resolve the complex challenges facing our city.

Visit the Leadership Victoria site for a full list and biographies of all nominees: www.leadershipvictoria.ca/v_awards.html


In this story

Keywords: Victoria Leadership Awards, award

People: Andrew Weaver, Mary Ellen Purkis

Related stories