The University of Lethbridge Alumni Achievement Awards and the ULethbridge Honour Society inductees are about recognizing and celebrating alumni who are shining examples of what it means to be a ULethbridge graduate.
Each of the individuals being honoured used the knowledge they gained at the University to achieve their personal and professional goals, and through these achievements has left a lasting impact on the people, organizations and communities with which they are involved.
These annual awards celebrate and honour alumni who have consistently demonstrated outstanding achievement, highlight the many amazing accomplishments of our alumni community, strengthen alumni pride and create connections between the University community, the alumni community and the community at large.
The 2023 Award Winners and Inductees
Distinguished Alumni Award
A respected national and international educational leader, Dr. Rita L. Irwin (BEd '77, Diploma in Education '84) is the recipient of the University of Lethbridge Alumni Association’s (ULAA) 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award.
“Dr. Rita Irwin is an exceptional representation of how influential ULethbridge alumni are both in our community and beyond. She is a well-known artist and highly respected arts education researcher who has positively shaped the philosophies and practices of countless teachers and made a meaningful impact in the lives of students across Canada and around the world,” says Deirdre McKenna (BA ’94), ULAA president. “As a widely exhibited artist herself, Dr. Irwin exemplifies the value of a well-rounded liberal arts education."
Throughout her career as a well-known artist and renowned researcher, Irwin has maintained a deep commitment to the arts, curriculum studies and education. A teacher of teachers, she is known for her community-oriented, participatory teaching style, and the emphasis she places on pedagogy and mentorship. An integral member of the University of British Columbia Faculty of Education since 1995, Irwin’s influence as a professor and administrator has been widespread.
A prolific researcher and educational leader, her work has been published widely and she has secured millions of dollars in research funding. Irwin explores a range of questions and topics through photography, painting, poetry and prose, and her research interests have spanned in-service art education, teacher education, socio-cultural issues and curriculum practices.
Young Alumni Award
Committed to equity, the work of reconciliation and the promotion of democracy, as well as the mentorship of young people, Dr. Amy Mack (BA ’13, MA ’16) has made an indelible impression on communities both near and far. The University of Lethbridge Alumni Association (ULAA) has named Mack the recipient of the 2023 Young Alumni Award.
“In a short time, Dr. Amy Mack has proven herself as an outstanding academic researcher and engaged global citizen,” says McKenna. “Dr. Mack has helped us understand the troubling rise of extremism and how social media has fueled the phenomenon. Her passion for research and facilitating dialogue helps communities understand these challenging topics and the questions they raise about our world.
Mack has spent much of her life seeking to understand the cultures around her. As an anthropology undergraduate, she was an outstanding student, a keen researcher and a global citizen. Following the completion of her bachelor’s and master’s at ULethbridge, Mack continued her research into digital communities and the rise of online hate and extremism in Canada for her doctorate at UAlberta. Following the 2022 protests in Ottawa and at the Alberta-Montana border, she saw a need for rural communities to have more resources to address radicalization.
The result was the establishment of the Canadian Institute of Far-Right Studies, a think tank she founded with a group of early-career scholars. Mack is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Research on Extremism at the University of Oslo.
Alumni Honour Society Inductees
From researchers to surgeons, and city planners to developers revitalizing economies in Indigenous communities, the University of Lethbridge Alumni Association’s (ULAA) 2023 selections as Alumni Honour Society inductees are changing lives and bettering society.
Dr. Jennifer Geddes-McAlister (BSc ’05, MSc ’07), Andrew Malcolm (BA ’11), Dr. Derek Waldner (BSc ’13) and Raymond Wanuch (BMgt ’89) have all been named to the ULAA’s Alumni Honour Society for 2023.
“Alumni Honour Society inductees are leaders and change-makers in their professions and their communities — at home and across the globe. I hope their achievements inspire students at ULethbridge to dream big,” says McKenna.
Dr. Jennifer Geddes-McAlister’s passion for science shines through in her leading-edge research of fungal diseases and her commitment to mentorship. After receiving her bachelor’s and master’s in biological sciences at the University of Lethbridge, she earned a PhD in microbiology and immunology at the University of British Columbia. She then joined the University of Guelph as professor of molecular and cellular biology and Canada Research Chair. In a short period, her research group has published more than 65 papers and supported successful funding applications totalling more than $8.7 million. In her role as a leader and mentor, Geddes-McAlister has promoted equity, diversity and inclusion as president of the Canadian National Proteomics Network, as well as founder of Moms in Proteomics, an initiative in support of mothers and women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Andrew Malcolm is helping shape the cityscape as well as future generations of ULethbridge students. Urban and regional studies served as a springboard for work in Taber and Lethbridge, where he’s put an indelible stamp on those communities through planning, design and community development where his work in revitalization and redevelopment resulted in major projects like Festival Square and the reconstruction of 3 Avenue South. Now the General Manager, Community and Social Development with the City of Lethbridge, he is dedicated to working collaboratively in the advancement of solutions to ensure all individuals, families and communities have opportunities for healthy development leading to social wellbeing and safety. Along with mentoring many young planners, Malcolm seeks out opportunities for applied studies for ULethbridge students with the City of Lethbridge. A former player and assistant coach with the Pronghorn men’s soccer team, he serves as director of its alumni association.
Dr. Derek Waldner, who first starred on the basketball court for the University of Lethbridge, has gone on to earn numerous accolades in the field of medicine. He completed an undergraduate honours degree in biochemistry while earning team, conference and All-Canadian awards with the Pronghorns men’s basketball team. Waldner went on to graduate with a combined PhD/MD degree through the Leaders in Medicine program at the University of Calgary and was accepted for subspecialist surgical training in opthalmology, a discipline that sees less than 50 surgeons trained in Alberta each decade. He has presented his research internationally, has more than a dozen peer-reviewed publications and ongoing clinical research interests focusing on glaucoma and training tools for opthalmologists. Waldner has also mentored countless undergraduate and graduate students within the scientific community.
Raymond Wanuch, of the Ermineskin Cree Nation south of Edmonton, is at the forefront of Indigenous economic development in Alberta. Raised on the Paddle Prairie Métis Settlement near High Level, Wanuch graduated from the University of Lethbridge with a Bachelor of Management in 1989. Today, he is the executive director of the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers (CANDO) where he works to build bridges between Indigenous and mainstream economies. His notable work includes establishing a scholarship fund for Indigenous students and helping develop the Community Economic Development Initiative (CEDI). CEDI pairs an Indigenous community with a neighbouring municipality to build a mutually beneficial economic development plan or project. The program, in partnership with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, has had incredible results in Alberta and across Canada.
Alumni Achievement Award winners and Alumni Honour Society members are celebrated for their contributions to community at the annual Let There Be Light Night Alumni Achievement Awards celebration.