Apr 19, 2021

Physiology's Business Manager, Paula Smellie, Wins Human Rights Prize

Photo of Physiology's Business Manager, Paula Smellie

Photo of Physiology's Business Manager, Paula SmellieCongratulations to Physiology's Business Manager, Paula Smellie, who was awarded the The Ludwik and Estelle Jus Memorial Human Rights Prize in the Emerging Leader category.

The prize — named for Ludwik and Estelle Jus, two Polish educators who risked their lives during the Holocaust to rescue Jewish people — is part of the University of Toronto Alumni Association's prestigious Awards of Excellence program. It is awarded annually to two leaders who have continually made positive and lasting contributions to education and action against discrimination.

As detailed in the award citation:

"Paula contributes to many initiatives, including co-chairing the Department of Physiology’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and co-chairing the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Sub-Committee of the Temerty Faculty of Medicine’s Group on Business Affairs.

"She has taken the lead to invite guest speakers and organize wellness initiatives at department retreats. She has co-facilitated training sessions for students, hospital staff and faculty members on how to practise allyship."

In response to receiving the award, Paula said:

"I am both honoured and humbled to receive this award. I am also very grateful for the support I receive from colleagues every day that allows me to pursue this important work, and I am truly encouraged by the momentum that concerns around equity, diversity and inclusion are gaining in our department.

"I look forward to continuing this work with my colleagues in the department and across the university, together laying the groundwork for social justice and human rights to flourish on our campus. I am grateful to Dr. Karolina Jus for her generosity and great vision in supplying the funding for this award. What a great example of channelling pain and suffering into something good. I promise to do my best to honour this gift."

Paula has already made significant strides toward laying that groundwork in our Department and beyond. We look forward to seeing the fruits of her labour as new, more equitable guidelines, policies, and procedures begin to emerge from the many committees and collaborations Paula leads and contributes to. As Department Chair, Dr. Scott Heximer wrote in his nomination letter for the award:

"Paula leads with conviction, enthusiasm, and compassion — a winning combination for a leader in the EDI space. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to have worked with Paula on these initiatives, and I am very excited about the directions toward which she is leading us all."

Congratulations Paula on this well-deserved award and thank you for all that you do to help our department be an equitable, inclusive place to work, learn, and teach.