Retirees 2014/2015

Sharon Brown – as submitted by her colleagues in the Library

After graduating with a BA in modern languages from U of T’s Victoria College and a year spent working at l’Arche in France just north of Paris, Sharon returned to Canada and within two weeks had a job as a

staff member in the long-vanished Pre-order Department of U of T’s main library. An MA in Medieval French and a few different library jobs later, Sharon took advantage of the opportunity to enroll in U of T’s Faculty of Library Science. She was fortunate, after graduating with an MLS, to find a job in UTL’s Collection Development Department as Assistant Department Head, with selection responsibilities for the Robarts Library in social sciences disciplines where departmental libraries for those subjects already existed, like law, criminology, education, social work and industrial relations. The teamwork and collaboration required for that particular work was wonderful lifelong training. In 2002, Sharon was about to start her first ever sabbatical, with the intention of enrolling in a PhD program in Book History

with UofT’s Library School and the Department of French, when she was unexpectedly interviewed for the post of University Librarian here at Laurier, a job she accepted and held for ten years. Laurier opened an even broader world for her, providing the opportunity to work with so many great people in the library, the university and far beyond. The UL’s position was followed by administrative leave and two years working at the vibrant, growing Brantford campus, where duties most recently brought her full circle to selecting material in criminology, law and society and human rights and diversity. Sharon worked in academic libraries for forty-four years.

Viviana Comensoli – as submitted by Ute Lischke

After decades of serving Laurier and the Department of English and Film Studies, we wish Viviana Comensoli a rewarding and well-deserved retirement. In her departure, the department loses both a strong drama scholar and an educator much-loved by her students, staff, and colleagues. Viviana joined the Department of English in 1986, and as a rising scholar, she was quickly promoted to full professor in 1998. During her time at Laurier, she has served as Coordinator of the Women’s Studies Program, was Graduate Officer in the Department of English and became the PhD Co-director and Graduate Officer from 2005-2007. Viviana has been instrumental in developing the graduate program in English. Looking back, she amusingly recalls how she presided both over the “shotgun” marriage of the joint PhD program with Guelph and was co-director of the program when the subsequent divorce was initiated. She was instrumental in continuing to shape the free-standing PhD program. Her scholarship is in the area of Early Modern Literary Studies, concentrating on Gender and Genre in Renaissance Drama. She is the author and editor of numerous books and her co-edited volume, Enacting Gender on the English Renaissance Stage was nominated for the prestigious Society for the Study of Early Modern Women book award. Viviana has been a long time member of the Shakespeare Association of America where she has served on the Executive Committee. She has recently been re-appointed to the prestigious IAUPE- International Association of University Professors of English, in Geneva, Switzerland. Viviana’s first book, ‘Household Business’: Domestic Plays of Early Modern England’, has had the honour of being selected by the U of T Press for inclusion in their Scholarly Division’s newly created book series, entitled Heritage, which involves the re-publication of exceptional books that have been published by the press. In her retirement, Viviana will continue to volunteer on numerous community projects as well as indulge in her love of music, especially opera–with a possible journey to Verona on the horizon.

Richard Elliott – As submitted by Peter Tiidus

Rick has had a long history at Laurier. My interactions with Rick started when I came for my hiring interview in 1989. Rick (who was one of the Associate Deans of Arts and Science) at the time was the first person I met. He explained to me the nature of the position I was applying for as well as a bit about what was then the nascent “Physical Education program”.

I next had extensive interactions with Rick when I was the Acting Dean of Science and Rick served as the Associate Dean. In that role his duties included much of the student advising in the faculty of science as well as coordination of the science curriculum committee (a job now split between 2 associate deans). In these capacities, Rick’s long years of experience and “encyclopedic” memory of curriculum issues from the past 30+ years and his hard work served him well.

One of the other assignments given to Rick at that time was shepherding the new “Health Sciences” program into being and then coordinating the first several years of the program as it developed. Rick tackled this assignment with his usual vigour. Under his direction the Health Sciences program was created as a multi-disciplinary, cross-departmental entity which was successful in attracting a significant cohort of very highly academically qualified students that has continued to grow into a mature and highly successful program. In addition to providing leadership for the program and its development, Rick brought a highly personal approach to his interactions with the Health Sciences students, all of whom he eventually knew by name and all of whom saw him as father figure in this program.  It is not in small part due to Rick’s efforts as the founding coordinator of the health sciences program, that the program (now becoming a department) has achieved the high level of success and student demand that it has. Ironically, when Rick stepped down from the Health Sciences Coordinator position, I succeeded him in this capacity.

Now, yet again our timing seems to coincide. Rick is retiring on July 1. I also will be retiring from Laurier on this date, although unlike Rick, who will be rewarded with increased leisure time in retirement, I will still continue my career as a Dean at Brock University.

I wish Rick the best in his retirement, secure in the knowledge that his career and contributions to Laurier were substantial and noteworthy and that he will be remembered fondly by students, staff and faculty whom he had contact with and who enjoyed the warmth of his engaging personality.

Good luck Rick!

Rick Elliott – as submitted by Paul Jessop

I would like to extend my best wishes to Rick Elliott as we recognize him for his years of service to the University. I worked very closely with Rick on a daily basis during my first year at Laurier when I was the rookie dean and he was the veteran associate dean in the next office. Rick was a tremendous help to me in that first year, generously sharing his vast knowledge of Laurier’s history and how the university and the Faculty of Science operate. He had lots of interesting stories to tell, and he was always upbeat and fun to work with.

He was serving double duty at that time as both the Associate Dean: Student Services and Program Coordinator for the new Health Sciences program. In both of those roles it was his dedication to serving the students that made him so successful. Much of the success of the Health Sciences program is a direct result of Rick’s hard work in getting that program up and running and instilling a sense of camaraderie among the students.

I wish him all the best as he transitions to retirement and offer my thanks for his hard work, his friendship and his off-beat sense of humour. We’ll all miss him.

Paul Jessop

Paul Heyer – as submitted by Jonathan Finn

Dr. Paul Heyer is known internationally as one of the leading scholars in communication and media history. Dr. Heyer has held appointments at Simon Fraser, Concordia, McGill, Rutgers and the University of Western Sydney. He arrived at Laurier in 2001 and has been instrumental in developing the Communication Studies program. His renowned co-edited textbook with David Crowley on media history is widely read by thousands of students of Communication Studies each year and his work on Harold Innis, Ted Carpenter and Marshall McLuhan has been essential in building a Canadian media studies scholarship. In addition to his publications in academic journals, Dr. Heyer’s work includes books such as Harold Innis, Communications and History, The Medium and the Magician, and Titanic Century. He has been interviewed by a wide range of local and international media outlets, including National Public Radio (US), The New York Times, The Times (UK), and The Wall Street Journal. And in 2013 he was enlisted as a contributor for a PBS film commemorating the 75th anniversary of the War of the Worlds broadcast. Most recently, Dr. Heyer received a SSHRC Insight Grant with scholars Janine Marchessault (York) and Michael Darroch (Windsor).

Dr. Heyer’s impressive scholarly accomplishments are paralleled by his teaching and service contributions. He has developed numerous courses in the Communication Studies program. He also regularly teaches in the Film Studies Program and has served on the MA and PhD committees of numerous Communication Studies and Film Studies students. In addition to the many formal service contributions in the form of committee work and serving as undergraduate and graduate advisor, Dr. Heyer has been a tireless supporter and promoter of Communication Studies at Laurier. It is an understatement to say that Communication Studies at Laurier and in Canada would not be what they are today without the teaching, research and service of Dr. Paul Heyer.

John Laband – as submitted by David Monod

Dr. Laband is a distinguished scholar of international reputation whose work is on the “must read” list for anyone interested in modern African history. He is the author of 19 books, five of them published after he joined Laurier in 2002.  Among his most important scholarly contributions are his landmark work Rope of Sand: The Rise and Fall of the Zulu Nation (Jonathan Ball; 1995, reprint. Arms & Armour Press: 1997) and his recent Zulu Warriors (Yale: 2014) which one reviewer called “a crowning achievement”.  These works, among his many, established Dr. Laband as one of South Africa’s leading military historians. In addition to his monographs, Dr. Laband has co-authored and edited 8 books and contributed 37 articles to journals and edited book collections.

There is no question that from the Faculty’s and the Department’s perspective, Dr. Laband’s retirement was a substantial loss.  He not only provided our students with African history, he also, crucially, taught them the histories of the European empires which so shaped the continent’s development.  Teaching them that story enabled them to understand the development issues, resource struggles, political structures, ethnic and territorial conflicts that currently characterize so much of sub-Saharan Africa.  In addition to this, Dr. Laband made a major contribution to Laurier’s core specialization in military history.  He did so in one of the most imaginative and relevant ways possible: by tilting the focus towards African Wars, introducing our students to such issues as the use of child soldiers, of rape and ethnic cleansing as tools of war, and of indigenous resistance to western empires.  It is hard to describe how much poorer the History Department and the University community have been made by Dr. Laband’s departure.

Dr. Laband’s service to the university has also been significant. Although he was only with us for a little more than a decade, he twice chaired the Department of History, served on Senate and was a member of numerous committees.  In terms of his contribution to the professional community, he has been as a member of the council and Vice-Chair of the Voortrekker Museum, editor of a major academic press series, and has served on the editorial boards of a number of journal and academic presses.  He has been honored with several prizes and awards, including the 2008 Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Gold Medal for Life Service to the Zulu People.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Natal University and Clare College, Cambridge.

Michael Pratt – as submitted by Rudy Eikelboom

Michael Pratt arrived at Laurier in 1985 after teaching for some time in the Maritimes. He teaches in the developmental area of our program and is interested in the developmental changes that happen throughout adulthood to old age.

In 2001 he was name the University Research Professor, a reflection of his active research in the lifespan developmental area. Over the years Michael has been almost continually funded by SSHRC. To date he has over 120 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. Michael has worked successfully with colleagues inside and outside of the Laurier community; he is a great team player.

Much of his research was done with his many graduate and undergraduate students. In 2010 in recognition of his work with students he was awarded the Wilfrid Laurier Alumni Association Faculty Mentoring Award. In looking at the courses he has taught over the years, they include everything from Introductory Psychology, all the developmental courses, through to the PhD courses in Social Developmental psychology (always with very high course ratings).

From 2002 to 2005 Michael was the chair of the psychology department, and has carried his weight on many other departmental, Faculty, and university committees.

In 1994 Michael and Joan Norris published a book with Blackwell that he might want to look at this point in his life: The Social Psychology of Aging (Understanding Aging). Knowing the care Michael puts into his work I’m sure this little volume will contain many insights he might find useful as he make the transition to Emeritus status.

Carol Stalker – as submitted by Nick Coady

Carol is one of the hardest working and most dedicated faculty members that the FSW has ever known. She has made outstanding contributions in teaching, research and service. Carol has also been a strong, and when necessary, a fierce advocate for students, the Faculty, and the profession.

Carol’s commitment to excellence in research and scholarship is evidenced not only by her own outstanding academic record, but also by her extensive supervision of MSW theses and doctoral dissertations. Students’ appreciation of Carol as a mentor and research advisor earned her the WLU Hoffman-Little Award for mentoring. Carol was also the longtime organizer of the FSW Research Day, which showcases research by faculty, students, and community practitioners.

Carol has also provided outstanding administrative leadership to the FSW. She was the Associate Dean of the MSW program earlier in her career, and she was the Associate Dean of the PhD program for many years leading up to her retirement. It is often difficult to find faculty who are willing to take on such administrative roles, but Carol has always done so willingly and she has been very effective in these roles.

On behalf of the faculty, staff, and students of the FSW, I congratulate Carol on an outstanding academic career, thank her for her enormous contributions to the Faculty, and wish her all the best in retirement. Consistent with her work ethic and dedication to the profession, I should note that she continues to be involved in research, student supervision, and professional consultation in retirement. Still, she has commenced and has many future plans for travel and spending time with friends and family.

Peter Tiidus – as submitted by his colleagues Stephen Wenn and Pamela Bryden

Peter Tiidus is a Professor, formerly in the Kinesiology & Physical Education department, but more recently he served as Program Co-ordinator for Health Sciences.

Dr. Tiidus has been a faculty member at Wilfrid Laurier University since 1989 and has previously served as the Chair of the Department of Kinesiology & Physical Education for over eight years. Prior to his appointment at Wilfrid Laurier University, he was for eight years a faculty member in the School of Physical & Health Education at the University of Toronto.

Peter demonstrated leadership beyond his willingness to serve as Department Chair, and Program Co-ordinator for Health Sciences, namely in spearheading the launch of Kinesiology’s  MSc program, and accepting the challenge of serving as the Acting Dean of the Faculty of Science for a year.

While at Laurier, Peter established himself as a well-respected and frequently sought out researcher in his primary area of interest in exercise physiology, specifically the physiology of hormonal influence on muscle damage and repair mechanisms as well as the effectiveness of various therapeutic modalities on muscle healing and health, that was also connected to aging particularly in relation to women’s health.  As a collegial member of the university, Peter mentored and encouraged new faculty in developing their research programs. He often included junior members on his research projects and grant applications which helped build their research profile.

This level of respect is also reflected in his service on the editorial boards of a number of academic journals, his work with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology and the Ontario College of Kinesiologists, as well as funding received on a consistent basis from agencies such as NSERC, CIHR, and CFI.

Peter has published over 90 peer reviewed articles and given over 100 presentations related to his research throughout North America and Europe. And, the evidence is in, he’s not slowing down, given his recent books are “Skeletal Muscle Damage and Repair” (2008) and “Biochemistry Primer for Exercise Science” (2012) (with R. Tupling & M. Houston).

While he is retiring from Laurier, he is taking up new duties as the Dean of Applied Health Sciences at Brock University.  His friends and colleagues in Kinesiology and Physical Education and Health Sciences wish him well.

Richard T. G. Walsh – as submitted by Rudy Eikelboom

Richard joined the faculty in Community Psychology in 1986 from a clinical practice at our local hospital. He has been an active member of the department and community area and has played a significant role in the psychology department by taking a critical approach to the discipline and looking at psychology form a phenomenological perspective – which is quite different from the more traditional positivistic approach taken by most North American psychologist. This has made him a person who enriched our program in a way that will be hard to duplicate after he retires.

Richard has for many years enthusiastically, and with drama, taught the History of Psychology (PS390) course (a course that has always been a requirement of our honours research specialist program). He also often taught the clinical psychology (PS381) focusing on the need to address the ethical, theoretical, and empirical basis of the practice of clinical psychology. The commitment that Richard brought to both these courses was recognized by the university community in 1999 when he was awarded the Outstanding Teacher of the Year award. Over the years many students (at both the graduate and undergraduate level) have been advised by Richard.

The last number of years Richard has been working on his book (with T. Teo and A. Baydala) “A Critical History and Philosophy of Psychology” published in 2014 by Cambridge University Press. This undergraduate textbook covers the themes Richard has emphasised in his History of Psychology course and has been described as a qualitative shift in textbooks in this field.

Richard has in his time at Laurier been active politically (he is the current candidate for the Green Party for the federal election this fall). His ecological –environmental concerns have been expressed for many years in his active involvement in the local political scene at all levels. Richard also has an ongoing interest in community theatre as an experienced actor and director(many students commented on his use of his theatrical abilities in his teaching). Perhaps now that he is retiring we will see his continued activity in these two domains.


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