It’s a special experience to recognize and applaud outstanding members of the Acadia community who have been duly honoured with Acadia Alumni Association Awards.
University President Dr. Peter Ricketts, Alumni Association President Donalda MacBeath (’75), Executive Director, Alumni Affairs Oonagh Proudfoot (’93, ’06), and Alumni Awards Committee Chair Jeff Aucoin (’96) welcomed members of Acadia’s alumni community live on Microsoft Teams to launch this year’s celebration on May 31.
See below for the links to each of the interviews with our honorees and their many personal and professional accomplishments. We invite you to explore, on your time, video interviews with our award recipients and get to know them better.
Dr. Blye Frank ('77, '81)
Dr. Blye Frank has enjoyed an outstanding 50-year career as a teacher, mentor, researcher, educator, trailblazer and administrator. He has three degrees from Acadia – BA (’77); BEd (’77); MEd (’81) – and a PhD from Dalhousie University (’90). He also holds a Diploma in Education, a Teaching Certificate in the Province of Nova Scotia, and is a Certified Canadian Counselor.
Donalda MacBeath (’75), President of the Acadia Alumni Association, says Dr. Frank’s selection as the 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient “is richly deserved. His considerable achievements exemplify the Acadia experience, and his personal and professional commitment to helping others is a testament to all that Acadia inspires in its students. The solid foundation he built while obtaining graduate and undergraduate degrees at Acadia has formed the infrastructure for an incredible career as an educator, advocate, instructor and administrator. He is someone to whom we can all aspire, and we are proud to celebrate him as a member of our alumni family.”
Dr. Frank grew up in a farming community in the Annapolis Valley and his local roots run deep. He taught at Horton District High School in Greenwich, Nova Scotia for 20 years and was a part-time instructor in Acadia’s Sociology Department and School of Education while pursuing his PhD at Dalhousie. He was also a faculty member in the Department of Education at Mount Saint Vincent University for a decade, where he co-chaired the department during the rationalization of schools, departments and faculties of education in Nova Scotia.
Throughout his academic career, Dr. Frank has been a lecturer, Assistant and Adjunct Professor, Professor, and head of the Division of Medical Education and also Department of Bioethics in Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine. He is currently in his second term as Dean of the Faculty of Education at UBC in British Columbia.
His pedagogical and leadership work in equity, diversity and inclusion in teacher and health care education is grounded in extensive and ongoing scholarship, and his tireless efforts have earned considerable accolades and attention. In addition to being named this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award recipient, Dr. Frank has received the Mount Saint Vincent University Award for Research, the Mount Saint Vincent University Alumnae Award for Teaching, the Association of Atlantic Universities Distinguished Teacher Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the prestigious May Cohen Gender Equity Award from the Association of Faculties of Medicine in Canada in recognition of outstanding effort for achievement in improving the gender equity environment in academic medicine in Canada.
Dr. Frank has noted that there are three foci to his work: diversity, sociology of masculinity, and boys’ and men’s health, with a particular interest in the examination of medical education through multiple lenses in order to better understand the political, economic and social inquiry surrounding medical practice.
As a teacher and mentor, he says he has “always encouraged and facilitated an environment of mutual respect and critical reflection for diverse learners through the application of new pedagogical theories and practices based on research excellence.”
Dr. Frank has published and presented extensively throughout his career. He is also a highly regarded guest speaker and lecturer, having hosted dozens of faculty development workshops provincially, nationally and internationally to foster a sustainable community of scholars in the areas of gender, health, and medical education.
Fellow educator Nancy Pynch Worthylake has been associated professionally with Dr. Frank for more than 30 years and said in support of his nomination, “I can think of no one who has contributed more to educational and social research, civic duty, an agent of change for equity and social justice, transformational leadership in the administration and business of university faculties, and systemic change at the community level. Quite simply, there are few leaders like Dr. Frank who have the strength of will to serve as an ongoing champion for those most at risk and the talent to influence others to join the quest for deep systemic change.”
Similarly, Dr. Ann Vibert (’74), former Dean, Faculty of Professional Studies, and Professor in the School of Education at Acadia, noted that “many colleagues in the Faculty of Education at UBC … praise his support for students and faculty, his fair-mindedness, his openness and presence, his imagination and energy, his enormous success at attracting top-rate faculty and increasing the University’s international research record, his insightfulness and lived commitment to supporting equity and diversity. Working across his career very much in Acadia’s proud tradition of furthering equitable education and engaging with communities, Dr. Blye Frank is indeed a distinguished Acadia alumnus.”
Dr. Catharine Farrow ('89), PhD PGeo ICD.D
Catharine is a Professional Geoscientist (APGO) and accredited Corporate Director (ICD) with more than 25 years of mining industry experience. She currently serves as a Director of Franco-Nevada Corporation and Centamin plc, is Chair of the Board of Exiro Minerals Corp., and is the inaugural Member of the Advisory Board of Behr Technologies Inc., an Industrial IoT technology company.
She is President of FarExGeoMine Ltd. (her private consulting company), is Chair of the Advisory Board of the Mineral Exploration Research Centre, Harquail School of Earth Sciences, Laurentian University, is a member of Laurentian’s Goodman School of Mines Advisory Board, and has been an Adjunct Professor at Laurentian since 1995. She is also currently is a Program Director of the Osgoode Mining Law Program.
From 2012 to 2017 she was Founding CEO, Director and Co-Founder of TMAC Resources Inc., the first producing gold miner with operations in Kitikmeot Region, Nunavut, in Canada’s High Arctic. Before TMAC, Catharine was COO of KGHM International (formerly Quadra FNX Mining Ltd.). Previously at Quadra FNX and FNX Mining Company Inc., she held multiple senior executive roles in a wide range of disciplines including operations, technical services, corporate development and exploration. Before FNX, Catharine was with both Inco Ltd. and the Ontario Geological Survey.
Catharine has served on the Board of several not-for-profit and government Advisory Boards including the PDAC and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – Ontario Region, and is currently a member of the Ontario Government Mining Working Group in addition to the PDAC Industry-Government (Federal) Roundtable. She has been honoured as one of the 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining (2015 and 2018), and is a past recipient of the William Harvey Gross Medal of the Geological Association of Canada (2000). Catharine obtained her BSc (Hons) from Mount Allison University, her MSc from Acadia University and her PhD from Carleton University.
Kayla Mansfield-Brown ('14, '19)
The Acadia Alumni Association is pleased to announce that two-time graduate Kayla Mansfield-Brown (‘Dancing Deer’ - 2014, 2019) is the 2021 recipient of the Acadia Alumni Outstanding Young Alumni Award.
Her impact as a woman, mother of four, Mi’kmaw leader and proud Acadia graduate who completed a Master’s of Education in Leadership at Acadia last year is difficult to overstate. A strong and outspoken advocate for social and environmental justice, gender equity and Indigenous rights, Kayla received in 2018 the ‘Fearless Leader’ Award from One Woman, an international organization dedicated to female empowerment, and earned the Graduate Student of the Year award at Acadia in 2019 for her commitment to academics and community involvement. More recently, Kayla was the recipient of the Dwight Dorey Youth Advocacy Award, presented to an Indigenous youth by the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, which works to bring awareness to Indigenous rights, culture, education and language.
In making the announcement, Acadia Alumni Association President Donalda MacBeath (’75) says, “Kayla Mansfield-Brown’s commitment to sharing important and valuable information about her culture, Indigenous rights and promoting social justice for marginalized communities is a powerful and poignant example for all of us. She is a fearless and determined advocate who enhances our level of education, encourages us to be more mindful, and communicates her passion for communities and change. She also represents our Acadia alumni constituency honourably and well, and I am thrilled to acknowledge and applaud her as this year’s Outstanding Young Alumni Award recipient.”
Kayla has served as an Aboriginal Client Service Representative for RBC, is an Indigenous Knowledge Keeper and Facilitator, was an Indigenous Youth Representative for a provincial political party, and an Indigenous Community Engagement Coordinator at houdinidesign Architects. Kayla is currently working with the Aboriginal Peoples Training and Employment Commission as a Support Worker for the Native Council of Nova Scotia.
She notes that ‘Dancing Deer’ is her Mi’kmaq name, shared with her in a sacred ceremony by Mi’kmaw Elder, Nancy Whynot. Dancing, she says, “illustrates the way I carry myself through life’s adversities, and in honouring the traditional dances of our nation. Lentuk (deer) signifies my small legs, but the strength they endure. Deer also have the ability to recognize energy, and willingness to protect their young.”
In the winter of 2020, Kayla lectured CODE 1963 - Decolonizing Community Development, under the Department of Community Development. This course was the first of its kind to be offered in the department and explored Indigenous ways of knowing in contrast to colonial ways of knowing, to understand decolonizing practices for working with Canadian communities.
Kayla has been a First Nations speaker at numerous conferences and seminars, a guest lecturer at Acadia, served on the planning committee and presented at Acadia’s Arts and Literature Mawiomi to name a few of her many community engagement credits.
Her supervisor at houdinidesign, Lisa Tondino, says, “as a Mi’kmaw woman, Kayla has embraced the opportunity through her community work to facilitate important dialogues, sharing and peace circles, has influenced the way my firm approaches architectural projects with the community – through ‘two-eyed seeing’ whereby projects are viewed from multiple perspectives from both Western and Indigenous ways of seeing and interpreting information. We have taken the goals of Reconciliation into the scope of our work with the help of Kayla’s knowledge and education.”
Paul McFarland ('10)
Paul is an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs’ organization in the National Hockey League. He graduated from Acadia with a BBA in 2010 and worked previously as an accountant and teacher. He was named assistant coach of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals in 2012 and the rest is history.
In May 2019, the Toronto Maple Leafs announced that McFarland had been hired as an assistant coach. Prior to that, the Richmond Hill native, 34, had spent the previous two seasons as an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers, building on an impressive resume that included three seasons as head coach of the Kingston Frontenacs (2014-17) and two seasons as an assistant with the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).
McFarland played four seasons in the OHL, recording 113 points (50-63-113) in 246 games between the Kitchener Rangers (2002-04) and Windsor Spitfires (2005-06). The left-winger won an OHL Championship and Memorial Cup Championship with Kitchener in 2003 and in his final season with Windsor, he served as captain. Following his OHL career, McFarland played four seasons for Acadia University and was captain for three (2007-10).
A leader on and off the ice, McFarland is a three-time Academic All-Canadian, S.M.I.L.E. volunteer and was twice named Acadia University’s Male Citizen of the Year. The Paul McFarland Award, established in 2010 and named in his honour, recognizes the combination of athletics, academics and community involvement at Acadia.
McFarland’s wife Kelly is also an Acadia graduate, having earned a BA in 2008 and Bachelor of Education in 2010. They have two sons, Cooper and Keaton.
Dr. Ian Spooner is the 2020 recipient of the Acadia Alumni Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching.
In making the announcement, Acadia Alumni Association President Donalda MacBeath (’75) said, “the yardstick by which we measure teaching excellence at Acadia is the current and long-term impact that professors have on our students, not only in classrooms and labs, but after graduation when students apply the tools they have developed during their time here. In this regard, it would be difficult to overstate Dr. Spooner’s influence.
“In addition to letters of recommendation from his colleagues, the Alumni Association received more than 20 testimonials from past students spanning grad years from 1997 to 2019 in support of Dr. Spooner’s nomination. It reflects, in no small way, his outstanding record of teaching excellence and the continued effect his dynamic personality and creative teaching style has had on his students. We are lucky to have him at Acadia, and I extend on behalf of the Alumni Association our heartiest congratulations on this latest personal and professional accolade.”
Dr. Spooner has been a professor and leader in Acadia’s Earth and Environmental Science Department for the past 26 years, supervising 30 Master’s and 48 Honours students since 1994. He has taught 11 different courses ranging from first-year Natural Disasters to graduate-level Quaternary Environments, and in a wide range of areas, from Hydrogeology to Environmental Impact Assessment. His primary research interest is investigating environmental change, and he conducts research in northwestern British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland.
His accomplishments include:
He is an expert in environmental and risk assessment, groundwater and surface water contamination, and coastal erosion. He serves as a consultant on the History Channel hit, The Curse of Oak Island. Dr. Spooner has served also with numerous professional organizations and was recently awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Atlantic Geoscience Society and the Acadia Faculty of Pure and Applied Science Teaching Award.
In February 2020, he was appointed Director of Research at the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre and Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens. In that role, Dr. Spooner, will focus on strategy, planning and communication to ensure that the Irving Centre and Botanical Gardens continue to be a leader in environmental study.
The Acadia Alumni Association is proud to announce that Geoff Irvine (’87) is this year’s recipient of the Acadia Alumni Isaac Chipman Award for Excellence in Alumni Service.
Geoff has been a friend of Acadia for more than 30 years, serving on Student Council and Frosh Committee as an undergraduate; as Executive Director of Alumni Affairs from 2006-09; as a member of Acadia’s Board of Governors twice (in 2005-06 and 2016-19); and on the Associated Alumni of Acadia University (now Acadia Alumni Association) Board in several capacities, including Vice-President and President (2016-18).
He has always been a champion of the alumni community in good times and bad, persistently encouraging mutual respect and collegiality and never losing sight of the value that alumni bring to Acadia through their shared experience, storytelling capacity, fundraising ability and overall affection for and affinity to the institution.
President of the Acadia Alumni Association, Donalda MacBeath (’75), has known Geoff for many years and values his commitment to the University and the Alumni Association.
“Geoff is a fine example of what volunteerism should be,” she says. “You don’t have to spend a lot of time with him to know how passionate he is about Acadia and how important alumni are to the University’s success, now and in the future. He has cultivated relationships, recruited students, established key protocols that govern our executive actions today, and his long history of service exemplifies his dedication to sustaining the Acadia experience for prospective students who will one day graduate and become part of the Acadia alumni family.”
“I’m honoured to receive this award named after such a significant Acadia alumnus,” Irvine says. “I have been blessed to be able to benefit from the unique educational and personal growth experiences offered by Acadia and made lifelong friends both as a student and then many years later as a leader in the alumni community. I strongly urge all alumni to get involved with Acadia in any way you can, including mentoring and recruiting students, attending events or making a monthly donation to a program of interest. The mental drift back to our halcyon days in Wolfville is a tonic!”
The Acadia Alumni Isaac Chipman Award for Excellence in Alumni Service recognizes a graduate of Acadia University who has had a significant positive impact on Acadia and its alumni. The award focuses on a recipient who has provided consistent support in the form of time, effort and resources to the services and promotion of the advancement of the University and its alumni.
The Acadia Alumni Association is proud to announce that long-time Acadia employee Cheryl MacDonald is this year’s recipient of the Acadia Alumni Outstanding University Service Award.
If anyone at Acadia epitomizes the term, ‘university service’, it’s Cheryl. Currently Administrative Manager, Dean of Arts, Cheryl has devoted herself to the University for more than 40 years in a variety of different positions and capacities, greeting the public, alumni, students, faculty and staff with consistent kindness and professionalism.
She has an encyclopedic knowledge of Acadia’s administrative structures, personnel and institutional culture that she shares regularly with Chairs, Directors and Coordinators in the Faculty of Arts, and her tremendous commitment has left an indelible mark that will stand as a benchmark of service excellence for years to come.
“Cheryl represents the very best of what Acadia is all about,” says Alumni Association President Donalda MacBeath (’75). “Since her arrival at Acadia in July 1979, she has been engaged on many levels, working in a front-line role that involves staff, students, alumni, the public and members of Acadia’s administration. Her institutional knowledge, genuine caring and general goodwill has characterized the Faculty of Arts for more than four decades. We are delighted to acknowledge her long-standing service and considerable contribution to Acadia’s reputation, and congratulate her on this achievement.”
Dean of Arts Dr. Laura Robinson (’88) says, “from small (but so important) gestures like having dog treats at the ready for visiting canines and a bowl of candy on her desk for human visitors to larger competencies, such as her knowledge of the operations of the Faculty of Arts and the collective agreement, Cheryl makes a real difference every day. With her compassion, good humour, and readiness to dig in to get the job done, Cheryl embodies and transmits the Acadia spirit.”
Interestingly, Cheryl is also a member of Acadia’s alumni community. She began a BA in sociology part-time in 1991 and completed the degree in 2000.
The Outstanding University Service Award is an expression of the Alumni Association’s appreciation for a staff member who has contributed above and beyond job requirements to ensure that Acadia provides an environment that encourages academic, athletic, cultural, organizational and social development.
The Acadia Alumni Association has designated former General Manager of the Acadia Students’ Union Ian Morrison as an Honorary Alumnus for his outstanding contributions to the Acadia community over the past 25 years.
The distinction recognizes an individual who is not an Acadia graduate, but who, through volunteerism, support and/or outstanding contributions to the University, alumni and broader Acadia network has become an important member of the Acadia community.
Acadia Alumni Association President Donalda MacBeath (’75) made the announcement, saying, “students are the lifeblood of the University and the basis of our alumni community upon graduation. Their experiences on campus shape what comes afterward, and we are pleased to celebrate people like Ian Morrison, whose unfailingly kind, caring and faithful commitment to Acadia’s students defines their experiences here and all that they bring to our alumni family. I’m delighted to welcome him to our community as an Honorary Alumnus and extend sincere congratulations to him and his family.”
When it comes to service leadership and student impact at Acadia, few can boast credentials as impressive as Morrison’s. He came to Acadia in 1993 as a St. Mary’s University graduate and settled in quickly and comfortably as Student Centre Manager. In 1999, he became General Manager of the Acadia Students’ Union (ASU), responsible for the operation of a $3-million not-for-profit that included oversight of six businesses and three publications. He was also responsible for the administration and design of the student health plan, supervision of the ASU’s six full-time staff, negotiation of contracts, and support for the ASU Executive Board, comprised of five student leaders.
Additionally, he was a constant resource for students: as counsellor, institutional historian, and cheerleader. He was a strong and solid advocate, moving the needle personally and professionally at every turn.
Former ASU President Matt Rios (’14) describes Morrison in a letter of recommendation that states, Ian “has been a stalwart defender of students and has been a steward in addressing important student issues like mental health, sexual violence, alcohol harm and youth employment. Ian came to work every day in the service of a single constituency: students.”
Grace Hamilton Burge (’18), says, “in my time as President of the Students’ Union, I worked alongside Ian. I believe that only the Students’ Union Executive has had the distinct pleasure of getting to know the depth of what Ian contributed to Acadia because he did not ask for, nor expect, any credit. Ian worked for the Acadia Students’ Union for so many years and is the reason that the Students’ Union is the respected organization it is today.
“Ian contributed to the Acadia community by enriching the experience of all the students. He championed the renovations of the Axe Bar and Grill and created an atmosphere for students and alumni to come together and celebrate. The Christmas Craft Expo has been a long-time tradition at Acadia that was made possible by Ian’s leadership. Ian has managed and overseen the employment of nearly 100 student staff every year. Under his guidance, not only did students have more money to support their education, they became involved with the Union and Acadia community. He has demonstrated what quiet and thoughtful leadership can produce.”
Morrison’s selection places him in distinguished company. Previous Honorary Alumni of Acadia University include Peter W. Webster, former Acadia President and Vice-Chancellor Ray Ivany and legendary football coach John Huard.
The Acadia Alumni Association, in cooperation with The Athenaeum, is proud to announce that Clinton, Ontario native Liam Maaskant (’19) is the recipient of the Student of the Year Award for 2020.
An Academic All-Canadian in 2016, 2017 and 2018, this talented student-athlete was captain of the Acadia hockey Axemen during the past two seasons and an assistant captain for two seasons prior to that.
Additionally, during his five-year career at Acadia, Liam volunteered with Acadia’s S.M.I.L.E. (Sensory Motor Instructional Leadership Experience) program. During his first four years, he was actively involved with one S.M.I.L.E. buddy then moved on to be a Student Leader, where he supervised S.M.I.L.E. instructors every Tuesday and Thursday morning. Liam not only worked with the students in S.M.I.L.E. classroom sessions, he also took the time to chat with his buddy and others after his hockey games.
Liam has also been actively involved in the Acadia Players’ Association for the past five years. He began as a Charity Representative and then, in year three, stepped into and played a very important role as co-president with Skye Forcier (’20), working with and providing guidance for many to raise funds for mental health initiatives at Acadia. He also assisted student-athletes in fundraising initiatives in the community.
In early 2020, Liam was instrumental in his role as a co-student coordinator with Forcier in launching the Acadia4U Athletics Wellness program. It assists varsity athletes with their mental, physical and academic well-being while at Acadia. This program is currently unfolding and will help many athletes moving forward with maintaining a well-balanced life while studying at Acadia.
Liam has also volunteered his time at a number of fundraising and minor hockey events, including Acadia's Hearts on Ice, which raises money for the Valley Cardiac Rehab Society, and the Hannah Miller Memorial Tournament, which gives back to the local hockey community.
A strong student and humble leader, Liam received the Randy Farris Award for Community Service in successive years from 2016-2019 at Acadia’s annual Fred G. Kelly Awards Banquet, was nominated for the James Bayer Memorial Scholarship Award in 2020, and won the AUS Godfrey Award for Community Service in 2019-2020.
As a result of the Godfrey Award, Liam was nominated for and won the prestigious U SPORTS Dr. Randy Gregg Award, a national honour that acknowledges an outstanding student-athlete’s commitment to Community Service. He is the first member of the Axemen ever to receive the Randy Gregg Award.
Alumni Association President Donalda MacBeath (’75) said Liam’s nomination was “a testament to what can be accomplished through desire, commitment and hard work. During his time at Acadia, Liam has embraced the Acadia mission and spirit, as demonstrated by the breadth, depth and duration of his commitments to community involvement, the University, his fellow students and academic studies. We extend congratulations to Liam on receiving this award and thank him for his many contributions to Acadia and our community."
The Athenaeum and Acadia Alumni Student of the Year Award recognizes a student who has excelled at Acadia. It is presented annually to a nominee who has contributed to the Acadia and Wolfville communities through extracurricular and/or academic activities and has worked to further the Acadia spirit.