Dedicated to student service

- June 18, 2008

Rosemary Gill Award winners: Catherine Currell, Clement Mehlman, Elizabeth McCormack and Dan Kelley. (Danny Abriel Photo)

Friends, family and admirers gathered recently in Sherriff Hall to support four very special people: this year’s recipients of the student-nominated Rosemary Gill award. Given to exceptional members of the Dal community who go the extra mile for students, the award commemorates the life of the late Rosemary Gill, a well-loved director of University Health Services.

SEE PHOTOS: Rosemary Gill Awards.

President Tom Traves characterized the recipients as people who “really do outstanding things to support our students.” Among long lists of virtues, the common qualities of the four professionals accepting awards include dedication, understanding, compassion, optimism, and humility. All four – Catherine Currell, Dan Kelley, Elizabeth McCormack and Clement Mehlman – struggled to admit that they deserved the award, commending everyone they worked with and never themselves, surprised that anyone felt their generosity and extensive accomplishments to be noteworthy.

“One does one’s work without thinking about whether or not one is being noticed,” reflected Clement Mehlman, Chaplin of the Multifaith Centre and creator of the Dal Allies, which now boasts more than 100 members. Known for his sound judgment, calm and easy manner, open-mindedness and tireless work ethic, Mr. Mehlman is a retired public school teacher turned theologian, who has spent the last 11 years providing spiritual guidance to students of all faiths and denominations.

All four recipients echoed the same sentiment – this is their job, they enjoy doing it, and they don’t think of themselves as extraordinary. “It’s a blessing and joy that everyday I wake up, that’s where I go,” said Elizabeth McCormack upon accepting the award from President Traves. McCormack has spent the last three years as director of the Dalhousie Women’s Centre. In that time, she has transformed it into a safe, welcoming space for anyone who cares to walk through the door.

Catherine Currell, another recipient, spent 18 and a half years making Dal Legal Aid Office a “therapeutic” place. Reading from letters of nomination, Dr. Traves gave the gathered throng some insight into her role. Ms. Currell, the smiling face of encouragement for the young lawyers, offered support and perspective, helping them to find a way to “put it all in context.”

Physical Oceanographer Prof. Dan E. Kelley, the fourth recipient, insisted there must have been an error when he was chosen for this award. However, testament after testament from students who nominated him said otherwise. They wrote of a man who is dedicated, compassionate, patient and involved.

In their letters of nomination, student after student spoke in superlatives. It’s no wonder Dr. Traves called the award presentation one of his favorite annual events.


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