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Attendees at the 2023 Arbor Awards celebration event pose for a photograph. From left to right: Jeanette Southwood (ChemE 8T6, MASc 8T8), Gary Vivian (EngSci 5T9), Christine Tovee (EngSci 9T3), Ann Nguyen (IndE 8T6), Ron Sidon (IndE 6T6), U of T president Meric Gertler, Manu Sud (ElecE 0T8), Victor Xin (EngSci 0T9), Ross Gillett (ElecE 8T5, MEng 9T4). (Photo: Gustavo Toledo Photography)

On January 16, the University of Toronto’s top volunteers in 2023, including 11 U of T Engineering alumni, were recognized for their service to the University. The recipients were presented with the 2023 Arbor Awards at a celebration event held at the Carlu. 

The evening ceremony was the first time the university has been able to hold an in-person Arbor Awards presentation since 2019, before COVID-19 restrictions were put in place. Recipients from 2020, 2021 and 2022 were also invited and acknowledged at the celebration.  

“These champions of U of T Engineering have had an incredible impact but we couldn’t celebrate the 2020 to 2022 recipients in person,” says Sonia De Buglio (ChemE 9T4, MASc 9T8), Director of Alumni Relations at U of T Engineering. 

“Throughout those difficult years, they created new opportunities for students, took on leadership roles as alumni ambassadors and never stopped giving back. We are proud of them and I’m so glad we could finally thank them in person.”  

Established by U of T in 1989, the Arbor Awards are presented annually to alumni and friends whose loyalty, dedication and generosity have added substantially to the quality of the University of Toronto experience. 

Among the 11 U of T Engineering recipients for 2023 are Qian (Linda) Liu (Eng Sci 1T3 + PEY) who mentored many undergraduate students and was an alumni assessor for the Engineering Science Summer Research Opportunities Program, and Safdar Mahmood (ElecE 0T3), the outgoing president of the Engineering Alumni Network, who also served on several University of Toronto Alumni Association committees. 

“Our alumni volunteers make a huge, ongoing difference in the education, careers and lives of people in the U of T Engineering community,” says De Buglio. “It is truly an honour to name them and celebrate them.” 

The 2023 U of T Engineering Arbor Award recipients include:  

David D. Beckman (ChemE 8T0, MASc 8T1) 

As a member of the board of advisors for the Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry, Beckman has consistently demonstrated his passion for education. From helping to modernize the department’s undergraduate curriculum and facilities to enabling meaningful connections and work opportunities for students, Beckman has contributed to a more vibrant and inclusive academic community. 

David Dean (ChemE 9T1) 

A long-standing volunteer partner of the Troost Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering (Troost ILead) at the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, Dean has generously lent his time and expertise to support curricular, co-curricular, research and community of practice initiatives. A tireless champion of the U of T Engineering community, he has volunteered on numerous panels with students and is a regular attendee at events and conferences. 

Theodore (Ted) B. Greenberg (MSE 8T4) 

An alumnus of the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, Greenberg played an integral role in the launch of the Alumni Applicant Assessor Program. From the early development of the broad-based admission assessment tool to providing ongoing training and feedback, he has been a dedicated supporter of this successful volunteer initiative and has helped the volunteer group grow from 20 to more than 117 people in 2023. 

Barry Hitchcock (CivE 5T8) and Robert M. James (CivE 5T8) 

Both 1958 graduates of U of T’s Civil Engineering program (the Civ Class of 5T8), Hitchcock and James have played an integral role in helping their fellow alumni stay connected over the past 65 years. After the class president passed away, they stepped up to continue his tradition of keeping the group united, including through regular video reunions during the pandemic, annual lunches and a regular newsletter. 

Qian (Linda) Liu (EngSci 1T3+PEY) 

A dedicated supporter of the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, Liu has mentored many undergraduate students through the U of T Engineering Alumni Mentorship Program and through her involvement with several engineering courses. She has also served as an alumni assessor with the Faculty’s broad-based admissions process and with the Engineering Science Summer Research Opportunities Program. 

Safdar S. Mahmood (ElecE 0T3) 

Mahmood joined the Engineering Alumni Network Board in 2016 and served as president from 2020-2023. Passionate about mentorship and engaging with current and future alumni, Mahmood frequently shares his insights and experiences through participation on panels in various electrical and computer engineering classes. He has also brought his perspective to the broader university by serving on various committees of the University of Toronto Alumni Association. 

Peter Murphy (ChemE 1T6, MASc 2T0) 

An advocate and ambassador for the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, Murphy is passionate about helping prospective students learn about the Faculty and welcoming new students to the community. He is also a longstanding member of the Skule Alumni community and annually judges the flagship U of T Engineering Kompetition in Parliamentary Debate. 

Sarah Oliveira (ElecE 0T5) 

Oliveira is an active member of The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering alumni community. She has spoken on several panels for prospective and current students, with a special focus on encouraging and inspiring women to explore career options in the aerospace industry. 

Jeremy Wang (EngSci 1T8) 

As chair of the strategic and technical advisory boards for the U of T Aerospace Team at the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, Wang has guided numerous engineering students working on satellites, rockets and other space systems. He also mentored two teams in the Entrepreneurship Hatchery’s NEST program, helping them develop their ideas toward commercialization, and has contributed his insights as a guest speaker in courses and at events. 

Andrew Wong (CivE 9T0) 

After joining the Engineering Alumni Network in 2016 as a board member, Wong was nominated as chair of the inaugural Nominations & Governance Committee. In this role, he oversaw the process of interviewing more than 80 alumni each year for leadership volunteer roles representing the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering. 

See the full listing of Arbor Award recipients: 

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Fahad Pinto
Communications & Media Relations Strategist