Renowned U.S. researcher comes home to be honoured at Brock alumni reunion

The Campaign for a Bold New Brock

Renowned U.S. researcher comes home to be honoured at Brock alumni reunion

Sept. 17, 2009

Brock University grads hold their annual reunion this weekend, and a highlight of their Black and White Dinner on Saturday night will be to celebrate fellow grads that have done the University proud.

The 2009 Distinguished Alumni Awards honour an impressive cast of grads that include an Olympic athlete, a legendary winemaker and a world-class medical researcher.

The Brock University Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award will go to Dr. Mary Guerriero Austrom, who graduated from Brock with a BEd (’80) and honours BA in Psychology and Italian (’81), and has become a world-renowned expert, advocate, researcher, educator and author in the field of Alzheimer's disease.

As the Wesley P. Martin Professor of Alzheimer Disease Education at Indiana University in Indianapolis, she holds the world’s first and only endowed professorship for Alzheimer disease education. In addition to being a much sought-after keynote speaker at conferences in her field, she is a devoted wife and mother of five (three biological sons and two daughters adopted from Russia). She is also a director of the U.S. National Alzheimer’s Association. Her research includes coping mechanisms for caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients.

“I just love Brock,” Austrom said from Indianapolis. “The feel of the campus, the interaction it gives to students, it just prepared me so well for my career, and for the greater academic world.”

Austrom grew up in Beamsville, Ont., where her family moved to from Italy when she was 3 years old. She was the first one of her extended family to ever attend university. “That’s exactly why we emigrated. My dad wanted to give us all a better chance.”

Other alumni award winners are:

Distinguished Mathematics and Science Alumni Award — Karl Kaiser (BSc ’74)
The wine-making legend who introduced the world to Niagara Icewine, Kaiser received his BSc in 1974 and then an Honorary Doctorate in 1994 for his contributions to Canada’s wine industry. Kaiser and Donald Ziraldo established Inniskillin Winery, producing award-winning wines that put Canadian wines on the world map and established Inniskillin as the Canadian leader.

Faculty of Applied Health Science Distinguished Alumni Award — Marty Calder (BPhEd ’92)

Besides being Brock Male Athlete of the Year three times, he is a seven-times national wrestling champion and Commonwealth champion who placed high at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics. As a role model he also helped develop many high school athletes, two of whom went on to the Olympics. A tireless ambassador for Brock, he contributes to his community by speaking to high school and elementary students and volunteering with youth at risk.

Faculty of Education Distinguished Alumni Award — Ted Palmer (MEd ’84)
Palmer is Executive Director of the Business Education Council of Niagara (BEC), one of the largest and most diverse business education councils in North America, developing strategic partnerships between education, business, government and community organizations. He was also the founding Chair of the Ontario Business Education Partnership. Prior to the BEC, he worked in a variety of positions including teacher and administrator with the District School Board of Niagara and faculty member at Brock University.

Faculty of Humanities Distinguished Graduate Award — David MacKenzie (BA ’74)
MacKenzie, of Ridgeville, has been an actor, director and playwright with the Carousel Players theatre company. He has written nearly 20 plays which pioneered an innovative style of participation, engaging students, teachers and performers in Canadian and world history and myth. He played a pivotal role for Trivial Pursuit and is credited with being the protector of Canadian content in the wildly popular board game.

Faculty of Business Distinguished Graduate Award — John Zoccoli (BAdmin ’86)
After beginning his accounting career with Dunwoody & Company, the Niagara native returned to Brock and spent 14 years in key administrative positions. Today he oversees operations of his family’s eight Tim Horton's franchises across Niagara region. Mr. Zoccoli is a member of a number of organizations including Board Committee member for the Tim Horton's Children's Foundation; a member of the Brock University Faculty of Business Advisory Council; and Treasurer of Briardale Public School Council.

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Other events for Brock University’s 2009 Alumni Reunion Weekend

Tribute! to Joe Kenny
Friday Sept. 18, Lowenberger Residence, 6:30 p.m.
For 28 years, Joe Kenny has treated Brock’s injured students, staff and faculty at the Athletic Therapy Clinic: join us as we celebrate Joe’s contributions. Tickets are $45 each and available by calling the Centre for the Arts Box Office at 905.688.5550 x3257

Alumni Pub Night
Friday Sept. 18, Isaac’s Pub 9 p.m.-2 a.m.
Share a few Brock stories over a pint at the campus pub. Tickets $5 online, $10 at the door.

Brock University Alumni Association Luncheon & Annual General Meeting
Saturday Sept. 19, Alphies Trough 12 noon-1 p.m.
Guest speakers Brock alumni Angela Aiello (BA, ’05) and Paxton Allewell (BA, ’05) from iYellow Wine Club.

Reunion Station
Saturday Sept. 19, Walker Courtyard 1-4 p.m.
The biggest event of the weekend, over 15 faculty, anniversary year, and club reunions will converge. Registration is open at

Black & White Reunion Dinner
Saturday Sept. 19, Pond Inlet 6-10 p.m.
Marquee event where the Distinguished Alumni Award is presented.

Communications, Pop Culture and Film Dept. reunion luncheon
Sunday Sept. 20 at Hernder Estate winery.
For information and tickets go to