It was a very happy new year for two University of Toronto faculty members.
On December 30, Linda Hutcheon and Anthony Lang were named officers to the Order of Canada, our country’s highest honour for a lifetime of outstanding achievement. They were among the 54 individuals appointed by Governor General David Johnston. Hutcheon, Professor Emeritus of English and the Centre for Comparative Literature, has spent over 30 years working in the humanities. She has been known to describe herself as “intellectually promiscuous” because of the cross-disciplinary approach her work employs. A prolific writer, Hutcheon has published over a dozen books, reflecting her many interests. Although Hutcheon specializes in postmodernist culture and society and was granted the Order of Canada for her contributions to the fields literary criticism and theory, she has also dabbled in Canadian Studies and Opera.
Hutcheon told The Varsity she was rather overwhelmed to receive the award. “It was totally unexpected, but a delight. Everyone from my colleagues and my students to the entire university administration has responded with incredible generosity of spirit.”
But the Order of Canada is not the only award Hutcheon has ever received. Her achievements have also included a Killam Prize for the humanities, and the 2010 Molson Prize in the social sciences and humanities. Her prominence in the field also prompted her to be elected as the 117th president of the Modern Languages Association in 2000, making her the third Canadian and first Canadian woman to ever hold the position.
Since 1988, Hutcheon has been enlightening students with her theories on irony, parody, and adaptation. She is very dedicated to her role at U of T, and is focused on constantly improving the programs and opportunities offered to students. Although she is very honoured to receive the Order of Canada, Hutcheon would rather have the spotlight shine on the university that helped make receiving the award possible.
“I take this as a positive vote for the health of the humanities at U of T,” she said. “We all had a rather difficult year, with the threats to various interdisciplinary centres and language and literature programs, including the Centre for Comparative Literature (one of my ‘homes’), so it feels only right that the new year should bring us something more positive.”
Dr. Anthony Lang also has high hopes that the new year will bring good things. He has a passion for researching cures and treatments for movement disorders, and for the past three decades, has been driven by a belief in the importance of providing the highest quality patient care.
Lang was granted the Order of Canada for his influential contributions to the field of movement disorders, most notably for advancing the therapeutics of Parkinson’s disease. As the Jack Clark Chair for Parkinson’s Disease Research, he has focused much of his attention on a research program directed at attempting to solve the “Parkinson puzzle” at many levels, which was developed at U of T’s Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases. The program is aimed at learning what the causes are, improving the accuracy of diagnosis, preventing and/or slowing the progression, as well as treating the later stages more effectively.
“I have been a leader in clinical research in many other aspects of movement disorders and myself and my colleagues at Toronto Western Hospital and the University of Toronto have made many important contributions to our understanding of these diseases,” said Lang, who is also director of the Morton and Gloria Shulman Movement Disorders Centre at Toronto Western Hospital.
He may not have solved the puzzle, but many pieces have been found and placed together, and Lang is confident his research will continue to lead to new developments. And he intends to make a difference internationally. During his time as president of the International Movement Disorders Society, Lang developed the pan-American section of the society in order to advance the field of movement disorders in Latin America.
“I oversaw and encouraged a number of international academic and educational programs with the ultimate goal of improving the care of patients with movement disorders around the world,” he explained.
With Lang’s spectrum of involvement within the community, his dedication to his work is obvious. He attributes winning the award to his determination but also credits his colleagues for helping him make progress in his research.
Along with the Order of Canada, Lang’s resume consists of many other awards including the American Academy of Neurology’s Movement Disorders Research Award in 2004 and the Donald Claine Lectureship from the Parkinson Society of Canada in 2008.
Three U of T alumni were also recognized for their achievements, joining the order as members. Mary Vingoe, an actress, playwright, and producer, was recognized for her contributions to the Canadian theatre community. Robert Bourdeau, a self-taught photographer with a keen eye for capturing captivating landscapes, architecture, and still life, was cited for his contributions to the field of visual arts. Anthony Comper, a former chair of Governing Council and chair of the Campaign for the University of Toronto, and his wife Elizabeth, were honoured for their role as constantly active volunteers and philanthropists.
The Order of Canada was founded in 1967 as a method of honouring Canadians who have made notable contributions to society in various fields. The order’s motto is “Desiderantes meliorem patriam,” Latin for “They desire a better country.” There are three levels of membership — companion, officer, and member — designed to honour accomplishments that vary in scope and influence, but have, in some way, touched the lives of fellow Canadians and taken steps toward making Canada a better place.