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Highly distinguished

Five Memorial faculty members receive emeritus honour

By Memorial University

Five Memorial University professors have been accorded the designation professor emeritus/emerita, an honour reserved for highly distinguished faculty members.

The new professores emeriti are Dr. Noreen Golfman, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences; Dr. June Harris, Faculty of Medicine; Dr. Ursula Kelly, Faculty of Education; Dr. Thomas Michalak, Faculty of Medicine; and Dr. William (Bill) Montevecchi, Faculty of Science.

They were recognized at Memorial’s fall 2022 convocation.

A professor emeritus or emerita is a retired member of the faculty who has served at least 10 years as a regular full-time faculty member and held the rank of professor upon retirement. The prime criterion for nomination is a sustained and superlative record as a scholar, as a teacher or as an academic administrator or any combination of these.

Candidates for the rank of professor emeritus/emerita are nominated by their academic units and, as with candidates for honorary degrees, the nominations are then reviewed by the Senate’s Committee on Honorary Degrees and Ceremonial. The candidates must then be approved by the university’s Senate and Board of Regents.

Biographies of the professores emeriti follow below.

Dr. Noreen Golfman, Department of English, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Dr. Noreen Golfman’s record of accomplishments as a scholar, professor and academic administrator are vast and far-reaching.

During her 14 years as associate dean and dean of the School of Graduate Studies, Dr. Golfman oversaw significant growth in graduate enrolment and retention, launched new academic programs and expanded fellowship and scholarship funding opportunities.

From 2014-20 she served as provost and vice-president (academic), providing strong and steady leadership while transforming the organizational structure of Memorial’s administration, including the launch of a new vicd-president (equity, diversity, inclusion and anti-racism) role.

Regularly voted a “most popular prof” in the annual Maclean’s University Guide and revered for her public intellectualism and dedicated community engagement, Dr. Golfman’s work in film and Canadian literature extended beyond Memorial’s campuses.

She founded many initiatives that brought the world of cinema to Newfoundland and Labrador, and Newfoundland and Labrador cinema to the world, including the MUN Cinema Series and the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival.

Her reputation for excellence has elevated Memorial University’s stature by association since she joined the Department of English in the early 1980s. 

Dr. June Harris, Faculty of Medicine

With an overwhelming dedication to her students and a passion for clinically related anatomy teaching, Dr. June Harris impacted the education and careers of hundreds of medical trainees.

Her academic and administrative leadership roles include director of student evaluations/promotions (1994–98), assistant dean, Student Affairs (2004–10), and university Senate representative (2002–08), plus national and international committees, including AFMC Student Affairs and accreditation team leader at University of West Indies.

Dr. Harris played a significant role in undergraduate medical education initiatives, including curriculum/student assessment overhauls and accreditation reviews. In 2012 she received the Canadian Association of Medical Education certificate of merit for her commitment to medical education and in 2019 was awarded Outstanding Teacher of the Year.

As director of MedCAREERS (2000–16) at Memorial, Dr. Harris gained national recognition for programs that would assist medical graduates make informed residency choices and prepare for their postgraduate training.

She collaborated with the Canadian Medical Association to develop online Canadian specialty profiles for all medical trainees. As part of the Future of Medical Education in Canada project, she co-authored guidelines for integrating career advising into medical school curricula.

Dr. Harris proudly completed four degrees at Memorial University of Newfoundland (B.Sc., BPE, B.Med.Sci., MD) and has a diploma in medical education from University of Dundee, Scotland. 

Dr. Ursula Kelly, Faculty of Education

Dr. Ursula Kelly is an eminent interdisciplinary scholar who is widely recognized for her groundbreaking and pivotal contributions in cultural and remembrance studies, critical and rural literacies, and social justice education.

She has written numerous books, journal articles and book chapters and produced several CD recordings and other multimedia publications.

Her internationally engaged research related to Newfoundland and Labrador presents challenging questions and fresh insights about socio-cultural, historical, and educational aspects of place, community, representation and identity.

Her prolific research on the cultural legacy of the province’s forestry sector, including its wartime contributions, is a substantial and acclaimed multifaceted account of the labour history of a long-ignored occupational group.

Dr. Kelly’s scholarship and teaching have been recognized several times by Memorial University. She was named John Lewis Paton Distinguished University Professor in 2020 and University Research Professor in 2018.

She received the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2006.

Dr. Thomas Michalak, Faculty of Medicine 

Dr. Thomas Michalak devoted 38 years to Memorial University as a faculty member, exceptionally accomplished research scientist, mentor and valuable colleague.

He directly supervised close to 100 graduate students and trainees who went on to establish their own research programs at leading universities across North America. Some of which now hold leadership roles at Memorial.

Dr. Michalak has received multimillion dollar research funding from granting agencies and industry. He has received national and international awards and recognition, including a Tier I Canada Research Chair and Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

His research has increased our understanding of immunology and virology and health impacts of viral hepatitis.

Through discoveries made in his lab, he led the establishment of a new field of research in occult (asymptomatic) hepatitis infections, a condition that may affect more than two billion people globally.

Dr. Michalak is an Honorary and University Research Professor of molecular virology and medicine (hepatology), former Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Viral Hepatitis/Immunology and elected fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

He holds a MD from Warsaw Medical University and PhD from the National Institute of Hygiene, Warsaw.

Dr. William (Bill) Montevecchi, Faculty of Science

Dr. William (Bill) Montevecchi’s prolific work as an environmental steward and champion of science communications has inspired the next generation of scientists, policy-makers and community leaders.

He joined the Faculty of Science’s Department of Psychology in 1975, retiring in 2021 after 47 years of service.

In that time, he held cross-appointments in Biology and Ocean Sciences and was an invaluable member of the interdisciplinary Cognitive and Behavioural program.

Dr. Montevecchi’s research on the behavioural ecology of seabirds has allowed him and his team to determine the effects of changing fish, climate and anthropogenic ocean conditions.

He has mentored nearly 100 students, post-doctoral fellows and research assistants and received more than $7.5 million in external funding, as well as numerous awards for his research, mentorship, outreach and advocacy, including Memorial’s John Lewis Paton Distinguished University Professorship.

Dr. Montevecchi has given more than 500 research presentations and hundreds of media interviews and ranks among the top two per cent of the world’s marine biologists with almost 13,000 citations of his 415 publications.

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