Thomas A. Austin   2001 UNB Service Award Recipient

It's almost impossible to conceive of the number of students whose lives have been touched by Tom Austin: teacher, Dean of Students, co-op coordinator and mentor for almost 40 years. Throughout his distinguished career, Tom has been enthusiastic, supportive and dedicated to his colleagues and his students.

Tom actually began his career at Devon Junior High, an experience that prompted him to immediately enrol at UNB as a mathematics major. Upon completing a BA in 1967 he became a teaching assistant while undertaking a master's program, initially in mathematics but soon changing to Computer Science, a new field that attracted his interest. By 1970, he was living in the residence community as a don and teaching in the School of Computer Science, where he became an assistant professor in 1974.

Over the next 15 years he progressed through the ranks, developing his academic career and playing a key role in the School and later the Faculty of Computer Science as its Assistant Director and as founding Coordinator of the groundbreaking Co-op Program. In 1989, he took on an additional challenge as Dean of Students, a position in which he served for a decade until his retirement in 1999.

In characteristic fashion, Tom has documented at least some of the impact he's had, including coordinating 902 senior projects, 156 technical reports, and 94 honours theses, as well as supervising eight Master's theses and 105 undergraduate projects. This doesn't count the literally thousands of students he has counselled, encouraged, guided and advised during his service as Coordinator of the Co-op Program and Dean of Students. Nor does it even begin to quantify the positive impact his influence has had on these students over the years.

The position of Dean of Students is a thorny one, an interface between the students and the University, half ombudsman, half enforcer. Tom balanced these responsibilities with compassion, tact, firmness when it was called for, and in a seemingly effortless manner. If he was conflicted by his work, it never showed. He set a new standard for student services professionals at UNB.

Like many faculty members, Tom is a successful fund raiser. In addition to monies for his research, he secured substantial grants from Employment and Immigration Canada to develop the renowned Computer Science Co-op Program in the 1980s and, in the early 1990s, to establish the Student Placement Centre. More lives touched.

Tom has been an active member of both the Atlantic and the Canadian Associations of College and University Students Services, from which he received an Award of Honour in 1999 for outstanding achievement and contribution to the development and promotion of student services in Canada.

Tom has always gone above and beyond his call of teaching, ready to assist students in their educational undertakings as well as lending emotional support in resolving issues surrounding academic appeals. Tom is always the first one here in the morning, sending e-mails as early as 6:30 a.m., and always the last one to leave. His wife, Rindy, affectionately refers to him as "Tom Who?"

Tom Austin deserves our highest praise. His open and cheerful approach to his life and work has never changed. He is ready, willing and able to help in any way he can, whatever the situation. As anyone who knows him will attest, no one better exemplifies the spirit of service to all members of the University community than he does.

Presented by Shelley Clayton, Director of Financial Aid
February 16, 2001