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Award recipient Danny Cavanagh goes the extra mile with students

November 28, 2012

By Fred Michah Rynor

Danny CavanaghDanny Cavanagh, a Program Assistant for Graduate Studies in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, is not a nine-to-five kind of guy simply because students in need of guidance
or just a shoulder to cry on don't always stress out during normal business hours.

The recipient of the 2012 Dr. Claire Alleyne Staff Award, Cavanagh has been helping students since he first came to OISE in 1998 and he considers it the best job he's ever had.

"I work with an amazing team who make coming to work a joy," says Cavanagh, himself a U of T grad (Bachelor of Arts, History).

"OISE is a hub for students who are diverse and intriguing and hail from around the globe," he says. "All are welcome here, especially the disenfranchised and it's a magnet for people who are trying to save the world. I consider them quite noble through their interest in helping others through education and social justice."

Cavanagh didn't know he was in the running for this award "and I was told students had nominated me because I'm known for going the extra mile -- especially when they're under a lot of pressure. I try to be as helpful as I can, giving them the personal touch and often staying past five to accommodate their concerns."

He firmly believes that a website sometimes can't take the place of a human being when it comes to direction and advice and he'll meet with potential students
even if it means he's late for dinner "because they have a million questions and I'll take the time to answer them all. I've been told that it's because of this concern that they remember me."

Part of this empathy comes from his own family history when his ancestors came to Canada from Ireland to settle what is now Peterborough, Ontario in 1825.

"University can also be an overwhelming new environment and I'm proud of being there for the students."

The Dr. Claire Alleyne Staff Excellence Award was established in 2007 to celebrate a staff member who has continually demonstrated deep commitment to excellence and outstanding service and whose actions have created a positive and lasting impact on faculty, students and alumni.