The 2008 Team Award for Innovation was awarded to UVic employees Stewart Arneil and Martin Holmes (humanities computing and media centre), developers of the successful software program Hot Potatoes.
Arneil initially joined UVic as a programmer in 1992, while Holmes joined as an English Language instructor in 1995. They first developed Hot Potatoes in 1998, based on some simple tools they had written for their own use in creating language exercises for the Web. The program basically brings the model of teaching exercises into the 21st century: it’s like having a semi-intelligent quiz that gives helpful feedback as the student works on the questions.
The duo first introduced Hot Potatoes publicly at a conference in Belgium in 1998, and now the software is on desktops of more than half a million users around the world on every continent except Antarctica.
Due to the product’s popularity, and in consultation with the Dean of Humanities and UVic’s Innovation and Development Corporation (IDC), Arneil and Holmes formed the independent Half Baked Software, Inc. The university owns a share of their company, and from its profits, Arneil and Holmes built the endowment for a new Humanities Scholarship named for Humanities’ Computing founding director Dr. Peter Liddell.
Arneil and Holmes continue to work for UVic’s Humanities Computing and Media Centre, but it’s not just UVic that benefits from their efforts. Every year, Half Baked Software sponsors a special charity month, donating all income received from licenses for that month to several local, national and international charities. In May 2008, they raised nearly $8,000 and beneficiaries included Oxfam, The Upper Room, Canadian Cancer Society and the Mustard Seed Food Bank.
"These two employees have established a benchmark of integrity, creativity and generosity for all of us,” says Dr. Elizabeth Grove-White, acting academic director of the Humanities Computing and Media Centre.
The individual winners are Sandy Bligh (accounting), Dr. David McCutcheon (business) and Dr. Rozanne Poulson (biochemistry and microbiology). The individual awards recognize up to three employees each year for their outstanding contributions to the learning and working environment that are reflective of UVic’s commitment to its goals for people, quality, community and resources.
Sandy Bligh is a multi-talented individual who is just as familiar with complex accounting calculations as she is with the societal intricacies hidden in the history of art.
Bligh is UVic’s Manager of Research Accounting and in May received a Master of Arts (history in art) from UVic. She and her hard-working team collaborate with UVic’s researchers, research centres, groups, administrators and students to help resolve complex accounting and management issues. They play a primary role in ensuring UVic research projects are high-quality and accountable, and help to ensure that an extensive array of research grants, contracts and operating funds continue to be directed to the university.
“Sandy is a one-stop shop for advice across the range of issues faced in the administration of complex research projects,” says Heather Chestnutt, administrator for UVic’s Institute for Dispute Resolution.
Bligh enjoys a good game of golf, but art is her true passion and she doesn’t pursue this passion just for herself. Bligh helps coordinate the Sidney Fine Art Show and has been the show designer since the juried show began in 2003; she has been the volunteer coordinator and designer for several art exhibits in the community; and she has donated paintings to various charities and fund-raising efforts including the UVic United Way campaign.
“She brings her love of art to the work environment,” say members of the Research Administrative Group who helped nominate Bligh for this award. “A visit to Sandy’s office will truly inspire.”
Dr. David McCutcheon
Business makes the global economy go round and round, and Dr. David McCutcheon knows exactly how to catapault UVic’s business students into their own successful career trajectories.
McCutcheon’s efforts extend into high schools, colleges and other universities to recruit students, faculty and staff. He has served as program director for the Bachelor of Commerce program for seven years and since the summer of 2008 has acted as UVic’s Academic Programs Director for the Faculty of Business, with oversight of both the MBA program and undergraduate programs.
The same strong facilitation skills, thoughtful style and commitment to quality that helped earn him the nickname “Super Dave” have also assisted in extending the faculty’s programs with the recent approval by the Senate of the business PhD proposal.
Although his fine qualities are no secret on campus, McCutcheon works quietly behind the scenes on his own time to make things happen for the faculty. “Although he attends community events such as the Tourism Victoria Travel Auction and the Chamber of Commerce Christmas Party, he is there to keep in touch with news in the downtown community,” says senior instructor and MBA Marketing Manager Heather Ranson. “He then shares that news with other faculty members and students in his classes.”
This isn’t the first award won by McCutcheon. He is a three-time winner of the faculty’s annual award for distinguished service (1997, 2003 and 2006).
McCutcheon didn’t earn his nickname for nothing. Associate Dean and Director of International Programs Dr. A. R. Elangovan can attest to McCutcheon’s superlative qualities. “Not only is Dave contributing directly to our university’s mandate of top notch education,” he says, “but due to his efforts the UVic flag continues to fly ever higher around the world.”
Dr. Rozanne Poulson
Dr. Rozanne Poulson is a talent spotter. As the co-operative education coordinator for UVic’s biochemistry and microbiology department, she recruits students into the department’s co-op program with unrelenting enthusiasm.
And she has led the way in doing so not just at UVic, but across the province. “Rozanne became involved in this program before there were other biochemistry co-op programs in British Columbia, and she quickly cornered the market on co-op jobs for molecular biology, biochemistry and microbiology,” says the department’s chair, Dr. Robert Burke. “Other universities saw these successes and set out to emulate them. Thus, our program is not in the top tier—it is the program at the very top, leading all others.”
In 2007/08, Poulson placed nearly 200 students in biotechnology/pharmaceutical and academic research positions and within biomedical sectors in communities and agencies ranging from the BC Centre for Disease Control to positions as far afield as Wellington, New Zealand.
An integral member of the co-operative education program at UVic, Poulson devotes most of her spare time to the communication of scientific knowledge. She co-founded and has served as the editor for more than two decades of Tree Physiology, the leading international science journal in its field, and over the past 25 years has edited science books for several international publishing houses. She also volunteers in her community and received a UVic Women’s Conference Recognition Award in 1993.
Poulson is not just a talent spotter; she can play the role of sophisticated and inspiring cheerleader when she needs to. Co-op student Susanne Hrynuik says, “I was hesitant to leave Canada, but I felt that if Rozanne had enough confidence in me to take on this adventure, there was no way I could fail.”
General information regarding the annual PDSA program and nomination and selection process as well as about previous winners, please consult web.uvic.ca/hr/pdsa/index.html