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Neil Besner

Neil Besner BA (Hons), MA, PhD

Since Neil Besner joined the University of Winnipeg in 1987 and continuing after his retirement in 2017, he has maintained an impeccable record of service to UWinnipeg and the wider community.

Besner’s name is synonymous with fellowship for his integrity, collegiality, love of language, and sharp wit. These attributes, combined with his notable contributions through scholarship, community, governance, and administration have left an indelible mark on UWinnipeg.

Nominated four times for the Clifford Robson Teaching Award, Besner also enjoyed a prolific and influential research career; has authored over 50 journal articles and book chapters; edited two special journal issues; served as the general editor of the Laurier Poetry Series; and published 10 books (as author, editor, or translator) in addition to his new memoir Fishing With Tardelli:  A Memoir of Family in Time Lost.

He has held many senior administrative roles at UWinnipeg since becoming Chair of the Department of English in 1993. He was the founding Dean of Arts and served in several vice-presidential capacities. He retired in 2017 as Provost and Vice-President, Academic.

Besner served in all aspects of university governance, including on the Board of Regents and more than 30 committees. His eloquent manner created a sense of diplomacy that persisted even during collective bargaining, where he served on both sides of the table, as faculty and then as an administrator. He helped lay the groundwork for the Department of Rhetoric, Writing, and Communications, and the establishment of the Centre for Transnational Mennonite Studies.

In 2009 Besner was recognized with the Marsha Hanen Award for Creating Community Awareness and in 2019 he was named Professor Emeritus for his scholarly work, advocacy for liberal arts education, and longstanding commitment to UWinnipeg.

The University of Winnipeg is proud to honour Neil Besner with Fellowship in United College in recognition of his exemplary record of service, his distinguished scholarship, and his longstanding commitment and contributions to the institution.