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Introducing the McGill University Medal

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Published: 17 May 2010

New award will honour exceptional careers of retiring professors

New award will honour exceptional careers of retiring professors

For the first time in its nearly 190-year history, McGill University will honour exemplary retiring professors at Spring Convocation ceremonies - on May 31 at 2 p.m. and June 1 at 2 p.m. - with presentations of the McGill University Medals for Exceptional Academic Achievement.

The McGill Medal will recognize retired members of the academic staff who have made extraordinary contributions to their discipline, to McGill or to scholarship, over the course of their academic careers. This new recognition is part of a significant change in the way in which McGill will now confer the title "emeritus" upon retiring full professors, moving that status from a "promotion in rank" to an "honorific."

Three retiring professors will receive the medal this year. They are, in alphabetical order, Albert J. Aguayo, Professor of Medicine; Adi Eisenberg, Professor of Chemistry; and Lawrence Mysak, Professor of Meteorology (see biographies below).

The University has recently altered guidelines and procedures for awarding the emeritus title to professors to be more in line with other research-intensive universities around the world. Now, retiring full professors can be conferred the emeritus honorific upon recommendation of their Department Chair and/or Dean to the Provost, who will make the final determination.

"Under the old system, one retiring professor out of three or four got the emeritus designation. Medal winners will be closer to one in 10 or even 20 - the top three to five per cent of the retiring cohort," said Professor Anthony C. Masi, McGill's Provost. "We are setting an extremely high bar and this will be a particularly exclusive group. Indeed, given the criteria, just being nominated is itself a real distinction and winning a fantastic honour. Of course, having such individuals at McGill honours us all."

The move will recognize and reward truly outstanding achievement by professors, so that at the end of their career, a retiring full professor's career can be further celebrated.

This year's recipients are:

Albert J. Aguayo, Professor of Medicine
Health Sciences Convocation, Tuesday, June 1, at 2 p.m.

Dr. Aguayo is a neuroscientist who has made significant contributions in the areas of neural regeneration and repair. His work has had important influences in treating injuries to the nervous system once considered untreatable. Dr. Aguaya joined McGill in 1967 and became a professor in 1977. For 15 years, beginning in 1985, he held the position of Director, Centre for Research in Neuroscience.  He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Order of Canada, the Killam and Gairdner awards. Dr. Aguayo has taught in academic institutions around the world. He is former secretary-general and president of the International Brain Research Organization, a UNESCO affiliate representing more than 50,000 neuroscientists worldwide.

Adi Eisenberg, Otto Maass Professor of Chemistry
Faculty of Science, Monday, May 31, 2 p.m.

For more than 30 years, Prof. Eisenberg has been a scientific leader in polymer chemistry, a multidisciplinary science that deals with the chemical synthesis and chemical properties of polymers or macromolecules. Since joining McGill in 1967, Prof. Eisenberg has taught countless students who have gone on to occupy senior scientific posts. For several years, Prof. Eisenberg has been the University's top-funded NSERC Discovery Grant recipient and has earned many awards for his work.

Lawrence Mysak, Canada Steamship Lines Professor of Meteorology, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Faculty of Science, Monday, May 31, 2 p.m.

Prof. Mysak joined McGill in 1986 and soon served as founding director of the Centre for Climate and Global Research to promote outstanding research with a focus on the integration among physical, biological and chemical processes that regulate the climate system, as well as their socio-economic impact. Today Prof. Mysak is a member of the Global Environmental and Climate Change Centre (GEC3), which continues to play a leading role in global climate-change issues as well as providing  input to the academic and public debate on environmental and climate change in Québec, Canada and internationally. Prof. Mysak has garnered considerable  recognition in his career, including being named a member of the Order of Canada and a Fellow in the Royal Society of Canada.

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