Published on Brock University (http://www.brocku.ca)
Oct. 26, 2008
The Matheson Learning Commons at Brock University, a new student space that occupies the first floor of the James A. Gibson Library, was officially opened today.
A major factor in the realization of the project was $2 million in support to the University -- $1 million from Brock students through the Brock University Students' Union Strategic Expansion Fund, and $1 million in private gifts from Brock faculty, staff, alumni and friends.
As a result of a significant gift from former student Arthur Peltomaa (BA, econ/poli '74), the Matheson Learning Commons was named in recognition of Professor Bill Matheson's important contribution to the growth and success of Brock University.
"This opening celebrates the special connection and friendship that developed between an influential and respected professor, Bill Matheson, and a grateful student, Brock graduate Arthur Peltomaa," said President Jack Lightstone. "Brock University is honoured that this enduring friendship has helped to move forward the Learning Commons so that the next generations of Brock students will benefit for years to come."
Matheson taught at Brock for more than 30 years in the Political Science Department, while holding various administration titles, including the University's first Vice-President, Academic, and its first Dean of Social Sciences.
"More than being an exceptionally talented lecturer, with a razor-sharp mind and nimble wit laced with a healthy measure of irreverence, Bill Matheson was to me and others a mentor and source of inspiration and encouragement," added Peltomaa, now a highly regarded lawyer with the Toronto firm Bennett Jones.
While Matheson admitted to being "astonished" by the gift, he echoed the notion that his approach to teaching was to work tirelessly for the students, to give them the best possible University experience. He feels he is rewarded every time he meets former students.
"It's always a pleasure to meet students years later and find out that they've done well and that they still remember me and Brock," he said, adding "I made myself accessible, so they never were nervous about coming to see me."
In 1980, Matheson was awarded the inaugural Brock Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching, followed, in 1994, with the initial Brock University Student Union Recognition of Teaching Excellence Award. He is also a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Gold Jubilee Medal awarded to Canadians who have made outstanding and exemplary contributions to their communities.
The Matheson Learning Commons is based on a partnership among Career Services, the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Educational Technologies, the James A. Gibson Library, and the Student Development Centre. These units work together to provide services to enrich the student experience from first year and beyond.
"The Learning Commons was created to enrich the student learning experience by offering an environment that fosters informal learning and promotes student engagement," said Kim Meade, Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President, Student Services. "Brock has a strong reputation for dynamic, student-faculty interaction and this facility as well as Mr. Peltomaa's gift exemplifies that spirit."
"We are very grateful to our donors for their strong support of this wonderful project," said Margaret Grove, University Librarian. "The Matheson Learning Commons is an inviting and beautifully designed space, with a rich array of academic support services that makes it enormously popular with students."
A welcoming and inspiring academic space, it has been designed to foster and support informal learning.