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President Naylor honours U of T staff for excellence through innovation

September 21, 2011

By Eileen Thomas

2011 U of T Excellence Through Innovation Award winners

From left to right: Lara Cartmale, manager of administrative services in CTL; Denise Makovac-Badali, director of research in the Office of the Associate Dean, Research; Joey Laforge, administrative assistant to the Associate Dean, Research; André Tremblay, formerly of CREFO, graduate counsellor in the department of French.


Close to 150 staff members from 19 divisions across the University of Toronto gathered at a reception at U of T President David Naylor’s home on September 20 to receive 2011 Excellence through Innovation Awards. This year, three current (and one former) OISE staff members were among the honorees: Lara Cartmale, Joey Laforge, Denise Makovac-Badali, and André Tremblay.

“I was surprised and pleased to win this award,” said Lara Cartmale, manager of administrative services in the department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, on learning of her selection.

This OISE team was nominated for creating OISE Professional Education in Research Administration (O-PERA). O-PERA brings together OISE community members who are involved in research administration to share resources, experiences, tools and methods. It enhances professional development in the area of research administration with the goal of increasing research funding success.  O-PERA met the award criteria for team innovation as “a community of practice and distributed expertise and leadership which brings together OISE community members involved in research administration to build a shared repertoire of resources, experience, tools and methods to support outstanding research and scholarship.”

Normand Labrie, associate dean of research, emphasized the significance of the group’s accomplishments, “The great thing about O-PERA is that it is not an initiative of professional development in the traditional sense of the term where a specialist would simply convey information to learners, but it is based on two efficient modes of teaching and learning, first, the notion of community of practice, and second, the notion of distributed expertise and leadership. Participants in the O-PERA initiative learn from each other, they map out where expertise is located across departments, centres and administrative units, and they develop a multitude of collaborative networks. It is not just the participants who grow professionally, but also the whole institution which becomes more united and stronger.”