Faculty awards program expanded

The U of S is making significant changes to its three-year-old distinguished chairs program, including giving it a new name, removing the cap on the number of positions awarded and extending the term of the recognition from three years to lifetime.

Addressing University Council Nov. 15, Jim Germida, vice-provost of faculty relations, explained the distinguished chairs program was established in 2009 to recognize achievement in research, scholarly and artistic work among U of S faculty. The number of chairs was limited to 10, and each was awarded for a three-year term with the potential for one renewal. Nominees quickly outstripped supply, he said, and deserving faculty members were going unrecognized.

In addition, increasing the number of institutional awards may improve the opportunities for U of S faculty members to compete for major national or international awards. As it stands, the number of institutional, local and provincial awards recognizing U of S faculty members is significantly below the average for members of the U15, the group of top research universities in Canada of which the U of S is a member.

To address the situation, Council approved a motion that will see the name changed from distinguished chairs to distinguished professorships, which will become distinguished professor emerita/us when the faculty member retires. The number of professorships will increase from 10 at any one time to 30, and the title will be awarded for life. The first annual call for distinguished professorships will take place in January.

Germida, who is chair of the Joint Board/Council Committee on Chairs and Professorships, also requested Council's approval of an honorary chair in the College of Medicine and a new chair in power systems engineering in the College of Engineering. It agreed to both although the chairs require approval by the Board of Governors.

Starting Jan. 1, the head of the Department of Medicine in the College of Medicine will receive the honorary title of Louis Horlick Chair, which recognizes the contributions of Horlick as a founding member of the department of the Division of Cardiology, as head of the department from 1968-74 and as a academic member of the department until and beyond his retirement in 1989. Horlick died Oct. 23.

Promoting research focused on power system engineering and smart grids as well as supporting both undergraduate and graduate education is the objectives of the new SaskPower Chair in Power Systems Engineering. The chair, which will reside in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, results from a $3.5-million contribution from SaskPower. Of that total, $2.5 million will be used to create a faculty position in power engineering with the remaining $1 million applied to the chair's mandate to enhance student education and research outcomes.

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