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Laurier honours Faculty Award for Service Excellence and Community Engagement recipients

Waterloo – Wilfrid Laurier University Associate Professor Ginette Lafrenière at the Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work and Associate Professor Kim Rygiel, in the Department of Political Science, are the 2019 recipients of Laurier’s Faculty Award for Service Excellence and Community Engagement.

The award recognizes full-time faculty and librarians who, in addition to their teaching and scholarship, are leaders in service to the community and/or university.

“Laurier is honoured to recognize the outstanding contributions of these exceptional faculty members whose academic, professional and service leadership has contributed to the advancement of the university’s mission, vision and academic plan,” said Rob Gordon, Laurier’s provost and vice-president: academic. “Both Kim and Ginette are exceptional members of the Laurier community.”

Lafrenière serves on faculty-level committees for the appointment and promotion of full- and part-time faculty members, and the curriculum and community of practice committee for the newly launched online Master of Social Work program, where she also provides pedagogical support to social work faculty new to teaching in an online environment.

She is the founding director of Laurier’s Social Innovation Research Group and director of the Manulife Centre for Community Health Research. Lafrenière has created countless practicum placements for Social Work students, giving them real-world experiences to equip them with the skills they will require as future social worker practitioners.

Lafrenière also supports university and community programs and committees. She is a long-time member of Laurier’s Women and Gender Studies coordinating committee and has collaborated with various community partners throughout central Ontario on projects related to violence against women.

Community engagement is also at the core of Rygiel’s Laurier career.

Rygiel is a community-engaged instructor who brings her passion and research expertise in issues related to migration and refugee resettlement to Laurier’s Political Science department.

Since 2016, Rygiel has led a graduate course on social advocacy for the department’s Master of Applied Politics program. Students in her course undertake community service-learning projects in partnership with local community organizations, where they experience how changes at a global level make a local impact. Rygiel’s classes have worked with the Community Coalition on Refugee and Immigrant Concerns and the World Refugee Day Planning Committee to organize local events and communications for the United Nations' World Refugee Day. They have also worked with Reception House Waterloo Region on initiatives to support refugees in their search for employment, which has contributed to successful grant applications.       

As the associate director of Laurier's International Migration Research Centre (IMRC), Rygiel added a community member to the centre’s Board of Directors, and engages with individual community members and local organizations to build relationships and increase attendance at the centre’s public events, including the IMRC’s 10-year anniversary event in November.

Rygiel has also served as the graduate program advisor for Political Science and has been a member of admissions and examinations committees at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, where she also teaches.

The Awards for Service Excellence and Community Engagement will be presented during Laurier’s Waterloo campus spring 2019 convocation ceremonies in Lazaridis Hall. Rygiel will be recognized on June 11 and Lafrenière on June 14. Both ceremonies begin at 9:30 a.m. A complete list of honorary degree recipients and award winners will be posted to Laurier’s Convocation webpages before June.

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About Wilfrid Laurier University: Wilfrid Laurier University excels at educating with purpose. Laurier’s holistic approach to learning integrates innovative programming with hands-on experience outside the classroom to ensure Laurier graduates are not only ready for the real world but are inspired to leave their mark on the world. Community is at the heart of all we do. Laurier inspires students to engage in campus life and the broader community, leading to high levels of student satisfaction and engaged alumni who carry the Laurier legacy throughout the world. As a community of researchers, leaders and educators, Laurier builds knowledge that serves society and creates connections that have a lasting impact. Learn more about Laurier’s 19,000+ students in nine faculties and federated university college throughout Waterloo, Brantford, Kitchener and Toronto at ​

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