Celebrating the leadership and legacy of Dean Cristina Amon

Dean Cristina Amon (right) receives a standing ovation after her speech at the Celebration of Leadership event on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. (credit: Lisa Sakulensky)

Dean Cristina Amon (right) receives a standing ovation after her speech at the Celebration of Leadership event on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. (credit: Lisa Sakulensky)

On Wednesday, June 26, more than 400 members of the U of T Engineering community came together to celebrate the transformative leadership of Dean Cristina Amon and reflect on the past decade of excellence in the Faculty. Under her visionary leadership, the Faculty has become a global leader in multidisciplinary research, education and innovation.

“The past 13 years have been a remarkable journey — one we have taken together,” said Amon. “I find myself moved to have arrived at this momentous occasion in our Faculty’s history. Through our collective will, we have built a strong and vibrant community and elevated our standing as Canada’s top engineering school, and truly one of the very best in the world. I am tremendously proud of all we have accomplished.”

In recognition of Amon’s enormous impact and lasting legacy, alumnus Paul Cadario (CivMin 7T3) announced the creation of the Cristina Amon Decanal Chair in Innovation, an endowed chair to be held by all future Deans of the Faculty that will seed innovative projects in perpetuity. A testament to her unwavering dedication to fostering innovation and collaboration, the Decanal Chair will be renamed in honour of Amon upon her retirement in accordance with University policy.

“What a brilliant run for Cristina — not only the longest serving Dean in the last half-century of the University of Toronto’s stellar Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, but one of our most successful deans ever,” said Professor Cheryl Misak, former vice-president and provost of the University of Toronto. “On every metric, Cristina soared, as did the Faculty to which she is so committed.”

From left: Dean Emeritus Michael Charles, U of T Chancellor Rose Patten, Dean Cristina Amon and Professor Ron Venter unveil a portrait of Amon by artist Joanne Tod. The portrait will be displayed in the foyer of the Myhal Centre. (credit: Lisa Sakulensky)

From left: Dean Emeritus Michael Charles, U of T Chancellor Rose Patten, Dean Cristina Amon and Professor Ron Venter unveil a portrait of Amon by artist Joanne Tod. The portrait will be displayed in the foyer of the Myhal Centre. (credit: Lisa Sakulensky)

Professor Ron Venter (MIE) unveiled a portrait of Dean Amon, to hang in the foyer of the Myhal Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship. The Myhal Centre was envisioned and spearheaded by Amon as a world-class facility for the 21st century engineer. The building elevates engineering experiential education and research through technology-enhanced active learning spaces, prototyping facilities, and design studios where students, faculty and external partners can exchange ideas and launch new ventures.

The Myhal Centre is also home to leading multidisciplinary research centres and institutes created in recent years, including the Centre for Global Engineering, the Institute for Water Innovation, the recently relaunched Robotics Institute, and the newly established Centre for Analytics & Artificial Intelligence Engineering. During her tenure, the Faculty strengthened international and industrial partnerships, and established two startup accelerators, The Entrepreneurship Hatchery and Start@UTIAS, which provide a comprehensive suite of programs to both undergraduate and graduate students to nurture the thriving culture of entrepreneurship across U of T Engineering.

Amon has enriched experiential, collaborative and active learning opportunities, and evolved the Faculty’s undergraduate and graduate programming to cultivate new generations of makers, innovators and leaders. Under her direction, U of T Engineering enriched opportunities for students to build on their strong technical foundations by developing professional competencies such as leadership, entrepreneurship and global fluency. The Faculty also created 19 undergraduate minors and certificates, on topics ranging from engineering business and advanced manufacturing to global engineering, music performance, robotics and artificial intelligence. Under her leadership, the Faculty also introduced five new majors in Engineering Science, including the latest in machine intelligence — the first undergraduate engineering program of its kind in Canada.

During the same period, U of T Engineering more than doubled graduate enrolment, launching new graduate programming from the PhD in Clinical Engineering and the Master’s in City Engineering and Management, to the 12 professional master’s emphases, starting with the ELITE (Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Innovation in Technology and Engineering) to the most recent in Analytics.

One of the many hallmarks of Amon’s deanship has been her unwavering commitment to increasing diversity and striving to create an inclusive environment so that all members of the Faculty have the opportunity to thrive. Under her leadership, U of T Engineering has almost tripled the number of women faculty members (from 20 to 57), and has been successful at recruiting outstanding undergraduate women, surpassing 40% women in the incoming class over the last three consecutive years, and tracking for more than 42% in fall 2019. Students, staff and faculty come from more than 100 countries around the world, further enriching the Skule™ community with global perspectives.

Dean Cristina Amon, second from left, speaks with alumni and guest at the Celebration of Leadership event on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. (credit: Lisa Sakulensky)

Dean Cristina Amon, second from left, speaks with alumni and guest at the Celebration of Leadership event on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. (credit: Lisa Sakulensky)

“Dean Amon has had a lasting impact on me, both as a U of T student and as a young woman in engineering,” said Shivani Nathoo (EngSci 1T8+PEY), president of the Engineering Society, 2018-2019. “Through her amazing leadership, she has shown what it means to stand up for your beliefs and make a difference. U of T Engineering today looks very different from when she started, and it’s credit to her hard work and dedication towards students and the student experience.”

“Dean Amon has led extraordinary growth and change at U of T Engineering,” said Professor Chris Yip, who will succeed Amon as Dean and become the first to hold the Decanal Chair in Innovation. “Through her inspired efforts and engagement, we now have the unparalleled talent — from students to staff and faculty — innovative educational programming, as well as the facilities and partnerships in place to drive the innovations, technologies and industries that will come to define our future.”

By Marit Mitchell

This article originally posted on Uof T Engineering News