John Webster   2006 Distinguished Service Award Recipient

John Webster’s work for the University of New Brunswick has brought about significant changes to its educational landscape over the last 30 plus years.  A pioneer in the areas of audio-visual and multimedia services, facility and classroom design, and web development, he has literally changed the way students are taught and learn at UNB.

John began at UNB in 1971 with his creation and subsequent administration of the Audio Visual Services department.  These services grew under his watchful eye to encompass the ever-changing needs of faculty, staff, and students in classroom settings and outside.  In the areas of media production, technical support, repair services, and facility design services he hired, and trained a talented staff that has grown to become the current Media Services.  John also offered training to the faculty and staff of both UNB campuses in many beneficial areas of media and technology.

One of John’s enduring legacies to UNB is his early work integrating computers in UNB classrooms to broaden the scope of teaching and presentation.  In 1989, along with Profs. Jane Fritz and Glen Jordan, he created the Centre for the Promotion of Instructional Technology.  One of the Centre’s early accolades came with the presentation of a Certificate of Merit from the Canadian National Institute of the Blind for its work on behalf of visually impaired students.  Working with UNB Presidents Armstrong and Parr-Johnston, John helped make UNB a leader in the use of multimedia tools in the classroom.  Over the past decade close to 70 “smart” classrooms have been designed and/or implemented at UNB with ongoing support and training provided.

In helping to design the Eaton Multimedia Centre, John gave the University a modern, open, airy, and well-equipped facility that is the nexus for multimedia services on campus.  The Centre provides a shared environment for support staff, work labs, teachers, and professional media staff engendering friendly and mutually beneficial interaction.  The Centre has been the home for two more of John’s ongoing additions to UNB’s profile:  His founding design of, and instruction in the Multimedia Certificate program; and that program's evolution under VP Academic Lou Visentin and Dean of Arts Peter Kent into the current BA Program in Multimedia Studies.  He also created and directed the UNB Web Development Team, giving both campuses of the University an attractive presence on the World Wide Web.  This interconnectedness was also significantly strengthened by John’s efforts as a mediator between the Fredericton and Saint John campuses, working to unite the two parts of the University into a greater, cooperative whole.

Outside of the Centre, John also created and chaired the SUB Board of Trustees to address administrative problems in the operation of the Student Union Building during the 80s.  The newly designed system helped balance the rights and needs of the students and commercial tenants and helped pave the way for future improvements.  His personal production and research has yielded a variety of excellent works, such as writing, producing and directing short films, publications of articles and short fiction, and the design of many CD-ROM packages.  Notably John authored UNBNU, a nationally distributed student recruitment tool that received the CAUBO Quality and Productivity Award (1994).  Charting a Course for Tomorrow, an interactive CD-ROM, was also nationally distributed in support of the UNB Venture Campaign (1995).

Although this official citation that I have just read lists many of John's contributions to the work and development of UNB, it does not comment substantially on his human side. Speaking personally and having worked for and with John for 29 years, I would like to say, on behalf of so many of his former employees, that John contributed significantly to our careers and to us as persons. He provided vision, leadership, and support. He stretched us and saw potential in us that we did not see in ourselves. In summary, I could not have asked for, nor chosen, a better boss, mentor, or friend.

John Young on behalf of co-nominators Brian Kaye and John Young.

Assistant Director, Centre for Enhanced Teaching and Learning

April 11, 2006