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Memories and photographs: OISE Long Service Awards recognize staff, faculty for 30 years of service

June 29, 2020

By Perry King and Biljana Cuckovic

Neil Tinker was hired as a Media Technician at OISE in 1989, and has been working here ever since. Pictured above is Tinker in his first year on the job.

Three faculty and two staff members have reached a major milestone at the OISE and University of Toronto community.

Staff members Neil Tinker and Gladys Lim, Professor Carol Rolheiser, Professor Elizabeth Smyth and Associate Professor Antoinette Gagné are this year’s recipients of OISE’s Long Service Awards – represent a modest recognition of the loyalty and many contributions to OISE and the University of Toronto.

“We are extremely honoured that these five individuals have spent the last thirty years contributing to the work of the Institute,” says OISE Dean Glen Jones. “Their contributions have been both professional and personal – helping us grow and develop and an Institute – but also as longstanding members of our community.”

To mark it, OISE News asked each of the winners to submit a past photo of themselves and share a favourite memory from their time at the Institute. This is what they shared.


Neil Tinker has been working at OISE since 1989. He was the recent recipient of OISE's Dr. Claire Alleyne Staff Excellence Award.

Neil Tinker
Information & Communication Technology Analyst, Education Commons

Neil Tinker, one of OISE’s more trusted staffers, shared this photo from his first year on the job – in 1989. “I was hired as a Media Technician in the Instructional Resources Development Unit (IRDU) at OISE... and have worked at OISE ever since in a variety of roles,” he said.

Neil, relied upon to provide many IT-related solutions to the OISE community, has his share of memories in his time. This is one of his favourites:

“Of all the wonderful memories of the people I have had the privilege and pleasure of meeting and working with at OISE, a favourite has be the evening I supported (and had a beer with) Sir Michael Palin as he made a presentation in the OISE Auditorium to support his book, Sahara.”


Professor Carol Rolheiser, who has been at the University of Toronto for over 30 years, received the inugural President's Teaching Award in 2006.

Carol Rolheiser
Professor, Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning

Professor Rolheiser, one of the inaugural winners of the University of Toronto’s President’s Teaching Award, shared two photos – shot in the mid 2000s.

“The one at the chalkboard was from 2006 when I received one of the inaugural President’s Teaching Awards – the picture was featured in a U of T Bulletin story and was taken in one of the old classrooms that I had taught in over many years,” she said.

The group photo includes her and some of her teacher education colleagues preparing for their first teacher education accreditation in 2005.

Professor Rolheiser is pictured above (bottom left) with her teacher education colleagues in 2005. 

“The College of Teachers requested all documentation in paper/binder form – one set for each member of the review team and the OISE team. The math worked out to 5 total binders times 10 people = 50 binders. “Oh, those were the days stuffing binders! The good news is that we advocated that the next accreditation be an online version!” she said.

“When I think of having spent over 30 years at the University of Toronto and being a faculty member at OISE, I have many defining moments, and all of these are really about the incredible people in our community. And, I have often thought... to love your work, to feel it makes a difference, and to enjoy the people you are with on a daily basis… how lucky can a person be?”


Professor Elizabeth Smyth, pictured above, has been with OISE for 31 years. In 2019, she received a paving stone as part of the University of Toronto's Landmark Project.


Elizabeth Smyth
Professor, Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning

Professor Smyth, from the Department of Curriculum, Teaching amd Learning, shared several photos from the last few years – including from her departure as Vice Dean at the School of Graduate Studies, the paving stone she received as part of the Landmark Project in 2019, and when she received the Vivek Goel award.

Looking back on 31 years at OISE, her fondest memories include the people she has encountered, “the amazing faculty, staff and students with whom I had the privilege of building a life-long learning community,” she said.

Professor Elizabeth Smyth received a University of Toronto Excellence Award in 2016.  


“The faculty and staff of the 10 Field Centres were my first OISE colleagues. They were and are terrific people who taught me so much and from them I learned the 12 commandments that shaped my career at my time at OISE, The School of Graduate Studies and the Centre for Teaching support and innovation.”

Her commandments include: People come first – let them know that you value them; Consult, consult, consult  and then communicate; Consider the impact of policy on people; Use only research-based and informed practice; Networks must be built and maintained; Technology has great power to enhance learning; Not every project will turn out the way you imagined; Learn from both the successes and the failures; Be responsible; Be honest; Be fair; Be kind.

Dr. Antoinette Gagné graduated from the Ontario Institute from Studies in Education in 1994. She is pictured above on her convocation day with her then five-year-old daughter, Kayla McGeorge.

Antoinette Gagné
Associate Chair, Student Experience, Department of Curriculum Teaching and Learning

Dr. Antoinette Gagné, the associate chair, Student Experience in OISE’s Department of Curriculum Teaching and Learning, shared many of her wonderful photos and memories – and all of them revolve around Convocation.

Those include her own PhD Convocation in 1994. “I was with my then five-year-old daughter, Kayla McGeorge – who became an OISE grad with a Masters in Counselling and Psychotherapy from APHA, and my mother, Joan Greenfield, who was a graduate of Trinity College,” she said. She was also able to enjoy McGeorge’s graduation, in November 2015.

She also remembers fondly the Convocations of her doctoral candidates every year – in particular three from June 2015: Sreemali Herath, now a professor at the Open University in Sri Lanka, Maggie Heeney, now a professor at the University of Waterloo, and Victorina Baxan, now the Associate Registrar, Admissions & Registration at U of T’s Faculty of Medicine and a lecturer in the Master of Teaching Program.

Dr. Antoinette Gagné is pictured above hugging her daughter Katrina McGeorge. McGeorge completed a masters in counselling and psychology from OISE in 2020. 

Gagné had hoped that she would have the joy of hugging her second daughter, Katrina McGeorge, on stage at Convocation Hall in June. Katrina was part of OISE’s virtual Convocation ceremony on June 16. “Like her older sister, she completed a masters in counselling and psychotherapy from APHD,” she said.

Editor’s note: Gladys Lim, OISE’s Admissions & Enrolment Management Specialist in the Office of the Registrar & Student Service, has graciously declined participation in this story. She has worked at OISE for about 14 years.

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