buildings at corner of Ouellette and University avenuesThe space at 300 Ouellette Ave. will be used to fulfill a vision of a community learning, technology, and innovation hub.

Downtown campus to expand with acquisition of 300 Ouellette

The University of Windsor is expanding its footprint in downtown Windsor as it has taken formal possession of 300 Ouellette Ave. as of Feb. 1.

The move aligns with the University’s strategic priority of fostering a strong connection with the community and providing exceptional student experiences and builds on its historic commitments to the Armouries and Windsor Hall.

UWindsor president Robert Gordon says the University is looking at all options for the iconic property, driven by the vision of a centralized space for tech innovation, experiential learning, and community building and envisions welcoming partners to the space formerly occupied by the Windsor Star.

“We continue to invest in and believe in the outstanding potential of the downtown Windsor area,” Dr. Gordon said. The University plans to hold further consultation aimed at identifying campus and community needs and opportunities for the space and its usage.

“We are excited about the potential of the space which will give us more options for collaboration with research and public and industry partners and is on a high-profile corner ideally located to continue the University’s efforts to re-invigorate the city core.”

The University will provide an update to the campus and broader community once it finalizes plans for the space.

Robert SmallUWindsor alumnus Robert Small is a Toronto artist and creator of the annual Legacy Poster which celebrates the achievements of African-Canadians and other prominent Black people around the world.

UWindsor alumnus named Officer of the Order of Canada

UWindsor alumnus Robert Small can claim many vocations in his life.

He is an artist, father, author, entrepreneur, educator, mentor, and sought-after guest speaker.

And he can now add Officer of the Order of Canada to the list.

Small is one of 38 Canadians on whom Governor General Mary Simon recently bestowed this title. One of the highest honours that can be granted to a civilian in the country, Small’s recognition is for “his long-standing commitment to highlighting the contributions of Black people in all sectors of Canadian society.”

Small joins the ranks of Anne Murray — his mother’s favourite singer — and icons of the local Black community such as Howard McCurdy and Bryan Walls, both UWindsor alumni, in being named to the Order of Canada.

“I look at all these famous Canadians I grew up admiring,” Small said. “I never would have thought I would get recognized along with them.”

Small, 52, who earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a certificate in criminology from the University of Windsor in 1993, is best known as the creator of The Legacy Collexion, an assortment of posters, prints, T-shirts, and bookmarks derived from his original artwork. His depictions celebrating the accomplishments of Blacks in Canada have become a mainstay of Black History Month celebrations and offers role models for Black children everywhere his posters are displayed.

While he also paints landscapes and seascapes, portraits are his bread and butter. Once a year, he combines several portraits into one work and makes it into a poster, adding text that chronicles the achievements of the people portrayed. In addition to posters for Black History Month, he has created posters for International Women’s Day and Asian Heritage Month.

Over the past 28 years since his Legacy poster project began, Small has sold more than 100,000 copies. They grace schools and BMO banks across Canada, and subway stations in Toronto. One has been transformed into a mural on the downtown Toronto headquarters of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

As Black History Month approaches in February each year, Small’s inbox overflows with media requests for interviews and bookings for speaking engagements. In the coming weeks, he will be omnipresent on television, radio, and social media.

“If I went back and told my 25-year-old self that I’d be doing this, I wouldn’t believe it,” he said.

Small’s artistic pursuits began when he was a child, drawing the characters he saw in his favourite comic books. He recalls struggling with race when drawing his first Black comic book character.

“I was drawing the Falcon, but I was drawing him like other characters, with a small nose and thin lips… I think the deeper conflict was appreciating my own features,” he recalls. “It took practice to learn to draw him with a nose like mine and lips like mine.”

Small had his first artwork published in a newspaper at age 16. He soon abandoned his art for post-secondary studies in sociology, criminology, law, and education, but found it a persistent calling.

“I was always drawing on the side of my papers when I was taking notes.”

He chose to attend the University of Windsor, drawn to its proximity to Detroit and being the “perfect” distance from his home in Toronto.

“Some of the best times of my life were at the University of Windsor,” he said.

Lauding his former professor Tom Fleming with whom he still keeps in touch, Small said his UWindsor education gave him the opportunity to explore topics such as racism, colonization, and the impact of media on Black people.

“Really, the University of Windsor positioned me very well for what I do now.”

He went on to earn a Bachelor of Education from York University.

Small worked for seven years as social worker, then later as a counsellor and a director of a mentorship program for Black youth.

Teacher training was “valuable experience,” Small said. “It makes me think of my products from an educational standpoint.”

This month, Small launches Afrostatic, a collection of learning materials that can infuse Black history into everyday curriculum.

His latest poster is out and he’s already thinking about succession planning for the Legacy Collexion.

“This year’s poster features the artwork of another person, Nigerian afrofuturist artist Komi Olaf,” Small said. The poster is Small’s first to feature QR codes that link to websites with more information about each person portrayed.

“I’ve used it as a platform to showcase the work of a young graphic artist who represents where this project can go in the future.”

Small hopes his daughters — Sade, 16, and Soulé, 20 — will someday continue his legacy. Sade is an artist and Soulé is studying business in college.

“As a father and a community member, I hope that they can take this over and this will still have an impact far into the future.

“I’m trying to create things that will last forever.”

—Sarah Sacheli

poster by artist Robert SmallThis poster by artist Robert Small is the centre of a prize package for winners of a quiz this month on Black history.

Quiz to test knowledge of Black history

The Black History – Black Futures planning committee has prepared a series of quizzes to run through the month of February, offering as prizes a poster created by Robert Small from his Legacy Collexion, along with swag from the Alumni Association.

To enter today’s contest, just send your answers to the following trivia questions. A winner will be selected at random from all correct responses received by noon Thursday, Feb. 3.

  1. Celebrated annually in Canada, Emancipation Day commemorates the abolition of slavery across the British Empire, which took effect in 1834 on which date?
    a) June 19
    b) July 1
    c) July 4
    d) August 1
     
  2. Black History Month was officially recognized by the federal government of Canada in 1995 when it adopted a motion by which MP?
    a) Lincoln Alexander
    b) Jean Augustine
    c) Leonard Braithwaite
    d) Howard McCurdy
     
  3. Which couple established Voice of the Fugitive, one of Canada’s first Black newspapers, in 1851 in Sandwich (now west Windsor)?
    a) Henry and Mary Bibb
    b) Thomas and Mary Ann Shadd Cary
    c) Jack and Viola Desmond
    d) Josiah and Nancy Henson

Contest is open to all readers of the DailyNews. Send an e-mail with your responses to abr@uwindsor.ca. One entry per contestant, please. Note: the decision of the judge in determining the most correct response is inviolable.

Dan Xiao with video crewPhysics professor Dan Xiao takes her turn in front of the camera for a series of videos promoting teaching and research in science.

Videos highlight science student experience

The Faculty of Science is collaborating with an alumnus director and producer to create eye-catching videos that highlight the exciting student experience and research taking place at the University of Windsor.

“We are creating a clear and exciting brand, and it has made an amazing difference to recruitment and our reputation,” says dean of science Chris Houser.

The latest four videos are featured on the faculty’s Science UWindsor YouTube site:

“We’ve made two Faculty Spotlight videos and they give us the opportunity to introduce our cutting-edge researchers — to give a face to the research being done in the Faculty of Science,” Dr. Houser says.

Sameer Jafar (BSc 2015) graduated from biological sciences with a minor in chemistry before pursuing a career in film and opening his own production company called BlackCat Ltd. He says his biggest goal in working with the Faculty of Science is to bridge the gap between scientists and non-scientists: to create accessible videos which will in turn build a well-informed community.

“We have created a series of videos that visualize Windsor’s competitive research and state-of-the-art facilities in order to bolster people’s confidence in attending the program,” he says.

Of all the clients he had worked with, Jafar says he feels most connected to the Faculty of Science for what it provided him as a student.

“My inspiring peers and the passionate faculty members motivated me to expand the limits of my knowledge while also allowing me to explore my interests beyond science,” he says.

“There were so many positive experiences that helped form the foundation of how I approach my work today. I want to keep encouraging that mentality within the program.”

Dora Cavallo-Medved, acting associate dean of science for faculty and student engagement, says it has been a pleasure to work with Jafar in creating the videos.

“Engaging our faculty and providing them a platform to showcase their expertise has been a valuable tool in communicating our research to prospective students, industry partners, and the community,” says Dr. Cavallo-Medved.

“And it has been even more rewarding that we have been able to do in partnership with an alumnus.”

—Sara Elliott

Tech Awards logoThe WEtech Alliance invites nominations for its Tech Awards celebrating the achievements of technology innovators.

Tech awards invite nominations

Organizers of the 2022 edition of the WEtech Alliance Tech Awards are now accepting nominations from people and companies to celebrate technology innovators at all stages for their achievements.

This year’s edition will feature a new category: the Tech Team of the Year Award. Other awards include:

  • Tech Mentor of the Year
  • Tech Educator of the Year
  • Woman in Tech of the Year
  • Tech Student or Young Professional of the Year

Finalists will take part in a public voting social media campaign across Facebook, with winners appearing in a Tech Awards podcast, hosted by Sarah Haefling, owner of Elevate Podcast Co. and host of the Made it Happen podcast.

Nominations are open until Feb. 6. Winners will be announced during Tech Week, March 21 to 27.

Find details of all awards categories, deadlines, and how to nominate, on the Tech Awards website.