MFRE Receives 2016/2017 Peter Larkin Student Development Award!

The Peter Larkin Award is granted to a graduate program or department that has contributed to student development in honour of Peter Larkin’s commitment and passion for teaching and graduate education. The selection committee (comprised of faculty, staff and students) were impressed with the MFRE Program’s “student academic preparations, systems to recognize early students who require additional support, the continual adjustments for improvements based on student feedback, as well as the focus on alumni and community engagements”. A reception to recognize and honour all the recipients of the Student Development Awards was held on Thursday March 30th at the Cecil Green House. The award was presented by Louise Cowin, Vice-President, Students.

From Left to Right. Top row: Jim Vercammen, Kelleen Wiseman, Lia Maria Dragan, Zhaoming Xu, George Kennedy (MFRE Academic Director).
Bottom row: Kevin Elsaputra, Shristee Rahman, Gabrielle Ménard, Rick Barichello

  Peter Larkin Award For a graduate program or department Dr. Peter Larkin was UBC’s first Fisheries Biologist and founding Director of the Institute of Fisheries, a graduate program. He continued his support of graduate education and became Dean of Graduate Studies in 1975 and Vice-President, Research in 1986. He was a Member of the Order of Canada (1995) and the Order of BC (1996). This award is granted to a graduate program or department that has contributed to student development in honour of his commitment and passion for teaching and graduate education. The program was honored to receive the following congratulatory note from Peter Larkin’s daughter, Gillian. She said that she enjoyed reading the letters from the nominator, as well as the four letters of support from current and former students of the program. Three things resonated for her: The first was the obvious effort made to design and implement a program that aligned with student needs. The impetus behind the program was to provide something new — a professional Master’s degree in applied economics that prepares students for a job in the food and resource sectors — and this has been accomplished. Moreover, since its inception in 2009 the program has been modified repeatedly based on needs identified by faculty as well as feedback from the students themselves both during and after completion of their program. This ability to actively evolve has brought the program to a level of excellence in only a few short years. The second was the obvious effort made by the program to embrace diversity, not just in terms of cultural backgrounds but also academic background and years of work experience. Student letters specifically comment on how such diversity allowed them to learn from the each other’s experiences. This notable strength of the program positioned them well for future work experiences and gave them a broad range of colleagues moving forward. Finally, the program has made ongoing efforts to make meaningful community connections. This has included taking students out into the community via field trips, bringing in external speakers via the MFRE Speaker Series, and inviting alumni near and far to share their experience completing their graduating project and details of their job with current students. Such connections have been so beneficial to date that the program recently carried out an extensive survey with MFRE alumni to re-connect with as many as possible and get their ideas for strengthening the mutually beneficial relationship with the MFRE program. The Master of Food and Resource Economics program is commended for developing and delivering a program that positions graduates with a passion for working on real world food and resource challenges to make a positive difference the moment they join any organization.