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UCOL Honours Years of Selfless Hardwork

By UCOL on Friday, 25 February 2022

UCOL Institutional Medal recipient Helen Gilmour-Jones and UCOL Board Chair Verne Atmore

UCOL celebrated the outstanding lives of three individuals at the Honours Award ceremony on Thursday, 24 February. 

The UCOL Honours Awards recognises and celebrates the contribution locals have made to the community, society in general, and UCOL itself. The awards were presented to Jamie McCaskill (UCOL Alumni Award), Mike Christensen (UCOL Honorary Fellow Award), and Helen Gilmour-Jones (UCOL Institutional Medal) from the Manawatū region. 

After graduating from UCOL Theatre School in 2000, McCaskill has been working in the arts industry as a writer, actor, director, musician, and producer. He’s a passionate and strong advocator of Māori theatre and entertainment. He’s won several awards in his wide-spanning career, including the notable Bruce Mason Playwriting Award, named after the man considered to be New Zealand’s first significant playwright, Bruce Mason.  

UCOL Board Chair Verne Atmore and Alumni Award recipient Jamie McCaskill

A globally-renowned mycologist, Christensen began his journey after completing the New Zealand Certificate in Science at the Palmerston North Technical School (now UCOL). After an extensive scientific career, with many awards to his name, he’s still putting his enthusiasm for science to good use. Christensen guides undergraduate and postgraduate students through the fascinating world of fungal identification and physiology in New Zealand and overseas. 

UCOL Honours Fellow Award recipient Mike Christensen and UCOL Board Chair Verne Atmore

“His voluntary work at UCOL has been instrumental in the success of our Laboratory Science programme and our learners,” says Bob Stewart, Portfolio Manager – Trades, Conversation & Primary Industries. “Mike is still actively engaged in world-leading research at Lanzhou University, China. Yet he manages to find the time to help out in our teaching labs, assisting students and lecturers to fine-tune their skills,” he adds. 

Gilmour-Jones worked with UCOL for nearly 40 years, tackling a variety of roles from lecturer, academic advisor, and project researcher to project planner and student complaint investigator. “She was instrumental in introducing many improvements during her time, the effects of which are still felt today,” says Penny O’Leary, Executive Dean – Health, Social Services & Applied Sciences.