UVic’s 50th anniversary celebrations set for lift-off

Campus Local News

UVic has chosen the half-century marker to reflect on its many changes and discoveries over the years.

For UVic’s 50th Anniversary Festival, the university will be rolling out events and projects from this month until June 2013, kicking off the celebration with a campus festival on Sept. 28 and 29. Events include family activities, open houses, tours, music, food and a special homecoming event for alumni. 

The university invited eight alumni to lecture on a variety of topics on Sept. 29 at the Social Sciences and Mathematics Building. Their speeches touch on poetry, business start-ups, sustainability and the life of an Olympian, among other subjects. All four morning talks begin at 10:30 a.m., and the four afternoon talks begin at 1:30 p.m. 

UVic writing instructor Carla Funk, one of the speakers, is interested in the ways poetry can sharpen our eyes to the magic in our everyday lives. 

“A clear image, a fresh metaphor, a string of words that imitates in sound the very thing it describes — all of these aspects of [a] poem sharpen the reader’s gaze and wake him or her up to the surrounding world,” says Funk, who obtained both an undergraduate degree in Writing and English (1997) and master’s in English Literature (1999) at UVic. 

Funk says that, through her education at UVic, poetry taught her the ability to pay attention, especially to things that at first glance seem common and insignificant. She credits her mentors and teachers at the time as her greatest influences.

“When I consider UVic’s influence on my life and work, it comes back to people — to [those] who encouraged me to keep writing, keep thinking,” she says, mentioning renowned writers and UVic faculty members like Patrick Lane, Lorna Crozier, Jack Hodgins and Stephen Hume. 

For Lara Lauzon, a speaker who is an assistant professor in the School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education, mentorship was also her best memory as a student. She expresses particular gratitude for former faculty member Martin Collis, an expert on wellness and healthy living.

“Dr. Martin Collis, who was my mentor and supervisor for both my master’s and PhD, changed my life. We are still in touch, and he has become my colleague,” she says. 

Lauzon completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as her PhD at UVic, and took over the teaching position for Collis when he retired in 1998, a smooth course of events she calls a “fairytale.” 

In her talk, Lauzon shares her research and personal experiences in health and wellness in the context of a work-life balance. Her interest used to be only fitness, until she realized that fitness alone didn’t equate to health.

“I will tell my story about being a workaholic. I wasn’t living a balanced life or living by my values,” she says. “I had to learn to say no and that opportunities will come at other times.”

“One of my students used to be a top-ranked triathlete in Canada, but she felt something was missing. She decided to use her athletic skills to help others.  She and two friends ended up running across Africa to raise funds for education there,” explains Lauzon. “When students begin to understand the concept of self-responsibility for self-care, they also begin to understand that when they are healthy they can reach their personal potential. At UVic, we have some of the best students [from] across the country. My job really is to encourage students to take care of themselves so that they are better able to take care of others.”

 Funk got married and became a mother as an undergrad. These became the seeds of her best and worst memories at UVic. 

Sharing her worst memory at UVic, she says, “I was due to give birth at the end of my second year and had a class full of small desks. By the end of the term, I was so pregnant that I couldn’t fit in the desk anymore. Every morning the professor had to ask for volunteers to haul in a table and chair for me.”

Her best memory? She got married at the chapel on campus one year after meeting her husband in a first-year theatre class.

Lauzon says she wants current students to recognize their privilege. 

“Even if you’re scraping along the student loan line, embrace that privilege. Use that education time wisely. Be involved; join a club. Take classes seriously, but have that balance. Take a look around and enjoy that education process,” she says. “And make healthy choices so you can enjoy it better.”