2017 Alumni Association Awards of Excellence winners

Photo du prix d’excellence de l’Association des diplômés de l’Université d’Ottawa. | Picture of the University of Ottawa Alumni Association Award of Excellence

University of Ottawa alumni are changing the world through their professional contributions and dedication to their communities.

The Alumni Association recognizes our members’ outstanding achievements with the annual presentation of the Alumni Association Awards of Excellence. Established in 2011, these awards aim to recognize the talent, effort and influence of the University’s graduates — locally, nationally and worldwide — who truly defy the conventional.

Meet this year’s recipients.

Meritas Tabaret Award for Alumni Achievement

Camille Villeneuve (BCom ’67) — Building a future in business

Camille Villeneuve

Photo: Texeira Photographie

Builder, manager, philanthropist — Camille Villeneuve is one of the National Capital Region’s most influential business figures. He’s also among the alumni whose generosity is ensuring that students at uOttawa’s Telfer School of Management can connect with what matters to them most while learning alongside leading entrepreneurs.

Partner and president of Multivesco, a real-estate development and management firm he created some 40 years ago “out of necessity,” Villeneuve has a reputation for integrity. His real-estate successes in the region as well as in the U.S. are the result of an indisputable flair for business, and not a little perseverance.

“I started university with a firm belief that I would succeed in business,” Villeneuve says. And succeed he did. His passion for real estate led him from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to the establishment of Multivesco, substantial investments in Texas and creation of the Plateau de la Capitale residential development. He credits uOttawa for providing him with much needed theoretical knowledge and for helping build the network of contacts that serves him to this day.

Since making his first gift to uOttawa more than 30 years ago, Villeneuve’s loyal support has improved the student experience in many ways. His latest gift of $1.5 million to his alma mater in 2015 ensures that his legacy will live on. It established the Camille Villeneuve Fund for Entrepreneurship, which supports new and existing programs, and student entrepreneurship. It also enhanced the Camille Villeneuve Student Activity Fund. The bulk of the donation will support future projects.

Occurring some 50 years after his graduation, the gift brought Villeneuve’s lifetime financial contribution to uOttawa to $1.85 million. He has given back in other ways as well, as a member of the dean’s advisory board from 2005 to 2011. In recognition of his contributions, Villeneuve received an honorary doctorate in 1996.

Alumnus of the Year

Sethuraman Panchanathan (PhD ’89) — Engineering for the public good

Sethuraman Panchanathan

Administrator, educator, engineer, entrepreneur, inventor, policy adviser, researcher — Sethuraman Panchanathan is all of this and much more. Now executive vice-president for knowledge enterprise development and chief research and innovation officer at Arizona State University (ASU), Panchanathan has devoted nearly 30 years to harnessing innovation to improve lives.

A childhood passion for designing and building things led to studies in science and engineering, first in India, then at uOttawa, where he was drawn by the work of Professor Morris Goldberg in pattern recognition and image processing. He credits the University of Ottawa for laying the foundation of his career. Panchanathan joined the ASU faculty in 1997. Whether as founding director of its School of Computing and Informatics or of the interdisciplinary Biomedical Informatics Department, or in other positions, he has sought to advance scientific frontiers for society’s benefit.

One testament to his creativity and knowledge is the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing (CUbiC), which he founded to design and build technologies and devices to help people with disabilities. CUbiC’s flagship projects for the visually impaired have received prestigious honours, including the Microsoft Imagine World Cup.

Perhaps not surprisingly, ASU was named the most innovative university in the U.S. in 2015 and 2016. Under Panchanathan’s leadership, the university’s research has grown exponentially, with annual expenditures tripling to half a billion dollars.

In recognition of his intellectual and scientific strengths, then-president Barack Obama appointed Panchanathan to the U.S. National Science Board in 2014. He now chairs the NSB’s Committee on Strategy and Budget, helping to drive the U.S. national and international agendas for science and technology. In 2016, Arizona’s secretary of state appointed him to her Technology, Transparency and Commerce Council to provide feedback and strategic support for Arizona’s policy programs.

Commitment to the University

Constance Nozzolillo (PhD Sc ’63) — A lifelong passion for research

Constance Nozzolillo

More than 25 years after her retirement from uOttawa’s Department of Biology, Constance Nozzolillo is still focused on her research. She’s also on campus most weeks, attending lab meetings with former colleagues.

Armed with a master’s in plant physiology, Nozzolillo started her career at Agriculture Canada as an agricultural research officer level 1 in 1950. Forced to leave two years later when the postwar public service forbade married women to work for pay, she joined then-recently retired Dominion botanist J. H. Craigie as his research assistant, exploring the life cycles of wheat rust.

Returning to the public service when rules changed in 1957, she soon discovered that a master’s degree wasn’t sufficient for the work she wanted to do. She received a PhD from uOttawa in 1963, and then joined the Faculty of Science, where she spent the next 28 years teaching, mentoring thousands of undergraduates, pursuing research and publishing widely.

A member of many scientific associations, she has travelled the world honing her research skills and expanding her knowledge. For the past 30 years, her passion has been anthocyanins, pigments that make a rose red. In February 2017, she delivered a talk on “Alternative Truths of Autumn Colour” at the International Workshop on Anthocyanins in New Zealand. Indeed, many newspaper editors in Canada have received annual letters from Nozzolillo setting them straight about leaf pigmentation.

Nozzolillo attributes her success to the scholarships and support she received as a young student. Long a champion of giving back, she established the Constance Nozzolillo Scholarship Fund in 1997 to support promising uOttawa science undergraduates whose education would be compromised by a lack of finances. She proudly shares in their success.

Young Alumnus

Andrew Todd (BASc ’14, BSc ’14) — A world-class drive to succeed

Andrew Todd

Photo: Kevin Light Photo

Taking bronze at the 2016 Paralympic games in Rio was just one more win for rower Andrew Todd. The 2015 Rowing Canada para-athlete of the year, he also holds a bronze medal from the 2015 World Rowing Championship in France and a gold medal from the 2016 World Cup in Poland. Earlier, Todd was a Canadian national rowing championships medallist — bronze in 2011 as an able-bodied athlete and gold in 2013 as a para-rower.

Now focused on training for the 2017 Worlds — and, he hopes, the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo — Todd has earned the respect and admiration of all who know him, on campus and on the water. With a background in endurance sports, the Thunder Bay native joined the uOttawa novice rowing team his first week on campus, reasoning that it wouldn’t take much time from his studies, a demanding dual degree focused on biotechnology.

Before long, competitive rowing became a passion. His exceptional performance led to an invitation in 2013 to join the Canadian lightweight men’s national team, which aimed to compete at the 2016 Olympics. Three days into training, however, Todd suffered devastating injuries when he was struck by a bus. What would have been the end of an athletic career for most people became for Todd a mission to finish what he had started.

Given only a 50% chance of surviving, he fought his way through 10 surgeries over 28 months while completing his degree. Still driven to compete on the world stage, he continued to train throughout his recovery. Thanks to his perseverance — or what he calls “stubbornness” — he regained his status as a world-class rower, determined that para-athletes and para-sports should be taken as seriously as able-bodied sports.

Post-sports, Todd is focused on a medical career — a childhood ambition — specializing in orthopedics. That might bring him back to uOttawa, which holds a special place in his memories.

Community Service

Lisa Glithero (PhD ’15) — Leading by example

Lisa Glithero

Photo: Sira Chayer, Students on Ice Foundation

Education, youth and the environment have been the focus of Lisa Glithero’s work as a teacher in Nepal, B.C. and Ontario, as former education director with Students on Ice (a foundation helping youth discover the polar regions) and, more recently, the Canada C3 project (a 150-day journey through the Northwest Passage), and as an educational researcher at uOttawa and the Ottawa Carleton District School Board.

In all these roles, Lisa Glithero, a professor in the Faculty of Education, has had her feet planted firmly in two worlds, academia and the community. Her take on community service is a little unconventional: it’s not so much manifested by doing as by being, embodying the values of engagement, social justice and connection to the natural world.

That’s not to say that Glithero is not also doing. In her home of Chelsea, Quebec, she’s on the board of the Chelsea Foundation to improve the community. As co-chair of Youth Ottawa, she works to engage young people to spark positive change in the city. She is an active member of Nature Canada’s Women for Nature initiative and also works with many environmental education groups, including the National Working Group on Environmental and Sustainability Education and the Canadian Network for Environmental Education and Communication.

Glithero’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. The recipient of an Yves Rocher Foundation Woman of the Earth Award in 2006, she was named an “Amazing Canadian Woman to Watch” by Chatelaine in 2008. In 2016, she was awarded a Meritorious Service Medal by the Governor General of Canada.

Building a sense of community, a strong sense of agency in young people and greater ecological consciousness in people in general is what drives her. She sees herself as a bridge builder who can bring different partners, sectors and voices together to create a healthier, sustainable society.

“Together, it’s my life work,” she says, “and where I feel I can best contribute to building a better world.”

Honorary Member of the Alumni Association

Bruce Lazenby — Bridging business and academia

Bruce Lazenby

Head of business development at the Regional Group of Companies, Bruce Lazenby needs no introduction to Ottawa’s business and high-tech sectors. A veteran of the local software scene and the former CEO of Invest Ottawa, he has been an Ottawa-booster for decades. He’s also a champion of uOttawa, an institution he calls a “talent fabrication facility extraordinaire.”

Lazenby, a graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada, is driven to bridge the gap between business and the university, because partnership benefits both. While the business partner can access leading innovation and research, the academic partner enjoys greater influence and real-world opportunities for students. “The importance of uOttawa to the city is not to be underestimated,” he says.

Lazenby touts the value of co-op programs, which expose students and employers to one another. Good for business, they also raise the bar in education; students who return to class with the latest knowledge in their fields can call professors to account. He’s proud that he brought Ottawa’s four postsecondary institutions together to coordinate their co-op programs, and thrilled that uOttawa introduced its first-ever compulsory co-op program, in its software engineering program.

Lazenby is a firm believer that it’s easier to change things from the inside. He is a member of the advisory committee for the Faculty of Engineering’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Endowment Fund and of the Telfer School of Management’s Advisory Board. His goal is to bring the two programs together, to ensure that engineering solutions make business sense (and vice versa). “That’s real life,” he says.

Lazenby also believes that alumni make all the difference to an institution. Now an honorary alumnus, he’s already been doing that at uOttawa, along with his wife, daughter and son — all uOttawa grads.

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