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Award winners from FGS 75th anniversary celebration

L to R: Dr. Dominque Rey, Edwina Shwedyk, Dr. Jitendra Paliwal, Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht, Thilini Dissanayake and Christopher Yendt

The Faculty of Graduate Studies marks 75 years of academic excellence!

December 11, 2023 — 

The Faculty of Graduate Studies commemorated its 75th anniversary with a celebration gala on November 30, 2023, which reflected upon its rich history while looking ahead to new and innovative ideas and programs. 

Dr. Michael Benarroch, Dr. Kelley Main and Dr. Jay Doering

Dr. Michael Benarroch, Dr. Kelley Main and Dr. Jay Doering enjoy the 75th anniversary celebration.

Dr. Kelley Main, the 11th dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies hosted the event, highlighting moments of the faculty’s successes.  From the very first convocation order of proceedings on record showing graduates of the master of arts and master of surgery programs in 1892, to the first female PhD graduate in mycology in 1931, to the creation of the Faculty of Graduate studies in January 1949, to multiple new programs implemented in 2023, Dr. Main shared that the Faculty has many things to be proud of and celebrate.


Dr. Michael Benarroch presented the FGS Outstanding Support Staff Award to Edwina Shwedyk, Graduate Program Administrator, Computer Science; and  Dr. Diane-Heibert Murphy presented the FGS Outstanding Administrator Award to Dr. Jitendra Paliwal, Associate Dean, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, and Professor, Biosystems Engineering.  

Highlights of the celebration included recent 3MT 1st place winner Keshav Narayan Alagarsamy, 3MP 1st place winner Oladipupo Olatunde (Dipo) and Distinguished Dissertation Award recipient Dr. Laura Forsythe, sharing their experiences, research and appreciation for the opportunities gained in their time at the faculty. Dr. B. Mario Pinto stated “These are our future business leaders, research leaders, community activists and government policy makers.  

Award recipients included:

  • Dr. Neeloffer Mookherjee, Professor in Immunology received the Outstanding Mentor Award in Health Sciences, presented by Dr. Todd Duhamel, the FGS Associate Dean in Health Sciences.
  • Dr. Dominique Rey, Associate Professor in Fine Arts received the Outstanding Mentor in Social Sciences and Humanities, presented by Dr. Dawn Sutherland, the FGS Associate Dean for Social Sciences and Humanities.
  • Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht, Professor in Kinesiology and Recreation Management received the Outstanding Mentor in National and Applied Sciences presented by Dr. Ehab El-Salakaway, FGS Associate Dean for Natural Sciences and Engineering. 

Dr. Main presented the FGS Dean’s Achievement Prize to:

  • Thilini Dissanayake, PhD candidate in Food and Human Nutrition
  • Cassie Dong, PhD candidate in Peace and Conflict Studies
  • Christopher Yendt, PhD candidate in Education

The UMGSA presented awards to graduate students:

  • Alekhya Lavu and Toby Le for the GSA Doctoral Program Award;
  • Ali Zoungrana, Sophia Mbabaali and Trixie Maybituin for the GSA Master’s Program Award;
  • Andrea Brown, Pauline Calinisan and Karen Livingston for the GSA Part Time Program Award.


an image of the poster presentation display at the FGS 75th anniversary celebration

The poster presentation displays showcased research being done by current students.

92 Graduate students proudly shared their research work with poster displays. These students were selected by their faculty to showcase their research and acknowledge their dedication and to the pursuit of academic excellence.





This event was very well attended by students, staff, alum and faculty. Dr. Main, reflecting on the milestone anniversary expressed gratitude for the support from all those who have been a part of the faculty’s journey “Our success over the past 75 years is a testament to the dedication and passion of our entire UM community – faculty, students, staff and donors- who have propelled us forward. As we celebrate our history, we also look ahead with excitement, ready to embrace new challenges and opportunities.”  

The recording of the 75th anniversary celebration can be found here. 

A link to the 75 fun facts of FGS  and a timeline of the early beginnings to the present can be found here. 

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