Stone entrance that reads University of Toronto Mississauga

UTM bids farewell to retiring faculty, staff

Friday, June 26, 2020 - 2:03pm
Sharon Aschaiek

Change is in the air in more ways than one, as the University of Toronto Mississauga community says goodbye to a significant number of staff and faculty members who are retiring this summer.

“My heartfelt thank you to our retiring faculty and staff for their steadfast dedication and professionalism throughout the years,” said Professor Ian Orchard, vice-president and principal of UTM. “The University of Toronto Mississauga is fortunate to have such an exceptional team of talented individuals who have shared their expertise and provided invaluable guidance and support to our community.

“I am grateful for their passion and commitment, which have made a lasting, positive impact on our campus and throughout the university.”

Professor Leila Lax, who joined biology in 1983 and most recently taught in the Master of Science in Biomedical Communications program, conducted compelling research on using e-learning in medical and interprofessional health sciences education.

Anthropological archaeologist Gary Crawford has been part of the anthropology department since 1979, and his comparative research on human-plant interactions has yielded many important insights on early agricultural practices in China and Japan.

Over his 46-year career in the Department of Psychology, Bruce Schneider conducted distinguished research into how human communication and auditory functions develop over the lifespan. He led a multi-university research group funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research on sensory and cognitive aging. He also headed up an award-winning gerontology education program on communication and social interaction in healthy aging, and directed a former UTM research centre specializing in animal and human communication systems.

“I have both enjoyed and benefited from the collegial atmosphere at UTM, and the opportunity to collaborate with a number of faculty members,” Schneider says.

Psychology is also bidding farewell to two additional faculty members. Kathy Pichora-Fuller, who arrived in 2002 to research auditory aging audiological rehabilitation for older adults, became internationally renowned for her interdisciplinary research on auditory and cognitive processing during communication in everyday life. A department member since 1998, Professor Glen Schellenberg studied cognitive developmental issues in auditory functioning, specifically music’s connections to emotion and cognition, and how listening to tunes affects mood, alertness and even intelligence.

In the tri-campus Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, Professor John Lester enjoyed a stellar 44-year career in the area of micro astrophysics, where he examined the atmospheres of the brightest stars in our galaxy.

Sue Prior, a UTM alumna and staff member, is departing from the Office of Advancement after 22 years of engaging with and supporting alumni, including during the last 14 years as manager of alumni development. The role involved mentoring, creating networking opportunities, organizing awards events and working with volunteers—work she found rewarding and that “really didn’t feel like a job.”

“I had the immense privilege to watch what was Erindale College grow into the University of Toronto Mississauga: the jewel in the U of T crown,” Prior says.

Countless students have benefitted from the wisdom and skillful support of Violet Grofsics who, since 2004, worked in the Office of the Registrar as an academic advisor. Her career at UTM actually began in 1991, and included roles in counselling and registration as well as working as a development officer at utmONE, the transition program for first-year students. It’s not a forever goodbye: Grofsics will keep teaching her part-time yoga class at the Recreation, Athletics & Wellness Centre.

“I knew these students’ stories, struggles and successes,” Grofsics says. “I watched shy, uncertain high school students evolve and grow into poised, mature university graduates. I am grateful to have been part of their journey.”

Arthur Birkenbergs was part of the UTM community for 43 years, first as a student, and then as an employee in Parking & Transportation Services. In 2017, he shared his fond memories of “growing up” at UTM in a video tribute to UTM’s 50th anniversary.

This summer, the campus bids farewell to:

Mohsin Hakimpour (Office of the VP of Research)
Hien Luc (Facilities, Management & Planning)
Margaret Kathleen Pichora-Fuller (Psychology)
Glenn Schellenberg (Psychology)
Carol Solonenko (Institute for Management & Innovation)
Violet Grofsics (Office of the Registrar)
Arthur Birkenbergs (Parking & Transportation Services)
John Lester (Chemical & Physical Sciences)
Alison Weir (Mathematical & Computational Sciences)
Bruce Schneider (Psychology)
Gary Crawford (Anthropology)
Leila Lax (Biology)
Miquel Faig (Economics)
Sue Prior (Office of Advancement)
Rosa Antonio (ICCIT)