Dal Senate stalwarts saluted with leadership awards

- May 15, 2024

Left to right: Dr. Lloyd Fraser, former long-serving chair of Senate, with Professor Susan Holmes and Dr. David Westwood, who were celebrated for their contributions to Senate and Dalhousie this week. (Stewart Cameron photo)
Left to right: Dr. Lloyd Fraser, former long-serving chair of Senate, with Professor Susan Holmes and Dr. David Westwood, who were celebrated for their contributions to Senate and Dalhousie this week. (Stewart Cameron photo)

The Dalhousie Senate recognized two individuals this week for their unique and extraordinary leadership in the university's top academic governing body.

Prof. Susan Holmes and Dr. David Westwood received the Lloyd Fraser Award for Outstanding Senate Leadership, an honour named after the former long-serving chair and vice-chair of Senate who retired in 2014. 

The awards were presented by Senate Chair Dr. Louise Spiteri and Dr. Fraser himself at the Monday, May 13 meeting of Senate. Established in 2018, the award shines a light work that has resulted in substantial benefit to Senate and the university at large. 

“It’s awarded only in the case where there is a deserving individual — in this case, two individuals identified by the Senate officers,” explained Dr. Spiteri. 

Professor Susan Holmes

Prof. Holmes, a former professor and program director in the Faculty of Open Learning and Career Development (formerly known as the College of Continuing Education), was celebrated for her extended service on the Senate Discipline Committee (SDC).

The committee hears complaints or allegations of violations of academic integrity regulations and non-academic misconduct by students in accordance with the jurisdiction and procedures established by Senate.

"Emotionally, it must very challenging and hard because you’re always seeing people maybe on the worst day of their life," said Dr. Spiteri. "I’ve known Susan for a long time. Susan always does it with such grace and compassion and empathy for the student."

Though retired, Dr. Holmes continues to work as an adjunct professor at Dalhousie and serves as chair of the SDC. "That says something about her commitment to Dalhousie that she is still working in this capacity."

Dr. Holmes spoke briefly about the work, sharing a few memories about students she met with who were struggling through tough situations at the time of their violations.

She recalled a mature student who was a single mother living off campus and studying law before she completely lost her vision. A young man from Yarmouth who was the first in his family to attend university and whose father had recently passed away from cancer and whose sister was receiving chemotherapy. A young man from China that was troubled that he had adandoned his mother with an abusive husband. "And there are also the students who haven’t yet been persuaded of the value and joy of doing their own work," she said. 

"In an environment where the opportunities for cheating are so tempting and more numerous than ever, I encourage senators to consider serving on the Senate Discipline Committee," she said. "It is important work that is necessary to ensuring the worth of a Dalhousie degree."

Dr. David Westwood

Dalhousie's Senate oversees the academic and research activities of the university. Asking hard questions about this work is critical, said Dr. Spiteri in honouring Dr. Westwood, for whom this practice has become something of a specialty.

“You can always count on Senator Westwood to come fully prepared to meetings to ask tough questions, to challenge, to question, to keep us on our collective toes," she said.

Dr. Westwood, a professor of kinesiology in the School of Health and Human Performance, has served on Senate multiple times, with his current covering two consecutive three-year terms set to conclude this June. Dr. Spiteri said Dr. Westwood's active engagement in Senate work is highly valued.

"As academics, I think we are absolutely bound to think critically – this is what we teach our students to do — and to have a critical voice always in a way that’s respectful and collegial and collaborative," she said. "It’s a wonderful quality that I think adds as an exemple for everything senators should be doing."


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