A few campus buildings are home to new purple plaques that boast past achievements in research, scholarships and opportunities at Western University.
“We are just trying to create a better environment where there’s a recognition of the important work that we do here and the impact that it has on our communities,” said John Capone, Western vice president (research).
According to Capone, there was a broad consultation process to select individuals and ideas to be honoured on campus. University members then voted for two options to showcase: one plaque from the Faculty of Science and another from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.
One plaque is dedicated to Helen Battle, a professor emeritus of zoology at Western; it can be found at the Biological and Geological Sciences Building. Battle was the first woman in Canada to earn a PhD in marine biology, and she started teaching at Western in 1929.
“Professor Battle is a shining example of an inspiring leader in science — she led with passion for her subject and compassion for her students and colleagues,” said Pauline Barmby, acting dean of the Faculty of Science. “Western science is proud to have been her academic home.”
The other plaque is at University College and commemorates the writer-in-residence program that was established in 1972. The writer-in-residence is involved in organizing creative writing events and is available for discussions with the general public about writing.
“I think it shows how vital the arts and humanities are to the university,” said Jan Plug, professor and acting chair of English and writing studies. “It highlights the longest-running writer-in-residence program in Canada, and we’re very proud of that.”
The writer-in-residence program has seen a number of distinguished writers in Canadian literature, such as Alice Munro and Emma Donoghue.
Capone believes that the plaques reflect one of the purposes of a university: to create new knowledge and to distribute that knowledge to the community.
“We have a large and rich history, and sometimes people forget about the contributions that Western has made,” said Capone. “I think it’s important that institutions reflect on some of those strengths.”