Members of the University of Toronto, Canada, community win a lot of awards. So many, in fact, that the communications team couldn’t keep up with them all.
“It’s a great problem to have,” says Jennifer Lanthier, director of editorial strategy. “You want to tell the stories of these remarkable people, but there aren’t enough hours in the day.”
To solve this problem, and creatively and efficiently recognize award-winners across the university’s three campuses and a range of academic fields, Lanthier and the University of Toronto communications team developed a website, U of T Celebrates. The site serves as a virtual trophy case—the digital equivalent of a physical display case on campus.
“Those cases show you at a glance the students’ wide range of achievements while also conveying a sense of community, recognition, and celebration. And that’s what we wanted for our website,” says Lanthier.
Launched in November 2019, U of T Celebrates started with around 50 announcements. Today, there are hundreds of entries across a kaleidoscope of fields. The website treats each awardee with the same attention and care. While Lanthier and her team track down information on some awards themselves, there is also a “suggest an announcement” form on the site for faculty, staff, students, and alumni to share their successes.
According to Lanthier, the site is about manifesting something that was already there but not always easy to see.
“Our university community comprises myriad smaller communities that are incredibly supportive of their members. We know how much pride the members of these communities take in each other, how much they root for their peers. We wanted them to see that the whole university feels the same way,” she says.
While U of T Celebrates was created before the COVID-19 pandemic, the move to remote working and teaching has changed the way people connect with their colleagues and their universities. Lanthier believes that the site is “a reminder that we’re all part of an inclusive and supportive community. One where, despite all the challenges and uncertainty of these times, remarkable people are continuing to do inspiring, extraordinary things.”
About the author(s)
Caitlin Lukacs is the CASE manager of editorial content.
Article appears in:
Town-Gown Relations: How and why institutions should collaborate with their communities. Plus, understanding alumni personas, navigating nontraditional paths to advancement, and creating a new normal as institutions return to campus.