Ted Robak   2009 Distinguished Service Award Recipient

His colleagues nominated Professor Edward Wayne (Ted) Robak for the UNB Distinguished Service Award, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the Bachelor of Science in Forest Engineering (BScFE program, to the Faculties of Forestry and Environmental Management, and Engineering, and the UNB community in general. 

Ted hails from Manitoba but is a New Brunswicker by adoption. He came to UNB in the early 1970’s as an undergraduate student and has been here or about ever since.  He graduated with a BScFE degree and left the university in 1975 but returned after only four years when Professor Thom Bjerklund the then head of the Forest Engineering Department persuaded him to join the teaching staff as an assistant professor of forest operations management.  Ted rapidly became integral to the bedrock of curriculum development and course delivery of the BScFE and later MScFE programs. His final year FE courses on forest operations planning embody the essence of what has become Ted’s unique way of teaching, which involves introducing students to solving fully realistic problems. The simulated “real” work environment forces students to operate as if they were employees of a corporation and is a primary reason why few FE students have difficulty transitioning from being students to being professionals, why there is deep employer satisfaction with our students, and why our students advance rapidly after graduation. The ultimate accolade recognizing Ted’s ability as a teacher is that he is recipient of UNB’s 2001 Alan P. Stuart Award for Excellence in Teaching.  That award resulted from a nomination by students and his colleagues can add nothing to that statement other than to say they concur. 

Ted’s service work within UNB is extensive and spans the departmental/program level to Faculty and university levels.  He was Acting Chair of Forest Engineering, Acting Dean of Forestry and Environmental Management, and involved in much committee work. In recent years Ted was the first Director of the International Relations Office (IRO) from 2004-08. Established in September, 2004, the IRO has the mandate to manage, support and/or provide advice concerning all facets of internationalization at UNB-Fredericton. Apart from campus-wide coordination of internationalization initiatives, the IRO has advisory responsibility for international recruitment, facilitates international activities of academic units and faculty members, promotes internationalization of teaching, and helps increase UNB’s stature internationally. The IRO made significant progress in many areas of internationalizing UNB-Fredericton because Ted took a hands-on approach and is deeply knowledgeable about international education and training matters.  Events such as the Working with Africa Conference, World-Wide Wednesdays, and the Stephen Lewis lecture are examples of initiatives in which his hand has clearly been present.

Apart from a passion for forest engineering as a profession, passion for teaching, and his willingness to serve the university in administrative ways, Ted is also an avid internationalist and traveler.  He has found many opportunities to knit together all his interests in innovative ways. For example, he brought rational decision-making in forest operations management and sustainable forest management to the province of Galicia in Spain, by working with their government to provide know-how and tools for practitioners.  He also facilitated student exchanges between Galicia and UNB that have flourished for nearly one decade.

Overall, Ted’s service and dedication to UNB are exemplary and truly worthy of the Distinguished Service Award.