Professors from Guelph, Queen’s, Toronto, and Western honoured with OCUFA service awards

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TORONTO, May 27, 2021 – The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) is pleased to announce this year’s recipients of the OCUFA Service Award: Herb Kunze of the University of Guelph Faculty Association (UGFA), Robert Hickey and Paul Young of the Queen’s University Faculty Association (QUFA), and Cynthia Messenger of the University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA) for their collective efforts to create the University Pension Plan (UPP); and Jeff Tennant of the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association (UWOFA) for his inspiring leadership and advocacy on behalf of Ontario’s faculty and academic librarians.

“The OCUFA Service Award was established to honour individuals who have done, or continue to do, exceptional work on behalf of OCUFA and faculty across Ontario,” said Rahul Sapra, President of OCUFA. “We are thrilled to bestow this award on five individuals who so clearly deserve this recognition.”

The UPP, which will see its inception this July, is a jointly-sponsored pension plan for the university sector in Ontario. Current members include the University of Guelph, Queen’s University, and the University of Toronto. Herb Kunze, Robert Hickey, Paul Young, and Cynthia Messenger spent years working days and nights to make the UPP a reality. The new pension plan is a remarkable achievement, as it will provide a stable defined-benefit option for Ontario university faculty, academic librarians and staff for decades to come.

“The UPP would not be a reality without the dedication and hard work of Herb, Robert, Paul, and Cynthia,” said Sapra. “These four individuals were instrumental in pushing the UPP project forward and ultimately bringing it to fruition. Because of their work, tens of thousands of faculty, academic librarians, and staff now have a better pension plan.”

Jeff Tennant has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to building a stronger academic labour movement through his contributions to OCUFA. As Vice-Chair and then Chair of OCUFA’s Collective Bargaining Committee between 2015 and 2020, Tennant provided a compelling vision for faculty association bargaining that ensures all members are engaged and have a voice at the bargaining table. He was also an integral member of the OCUFA Working Group on Student Questionnaires on Courses and Teaching, which published a landmark report on the misuse of student questionnaire results and their role in enabling harassment of faculty through anonymous comments.

“Jeff has been a tireless advocate for all Ontario faculty association members, including precariously employed faculty and librarians,” said Sapra. “With this award, we recognize his selfless commitment and strong leadership.”

Kunze, Hickey, Young, Messenger, and Tennant will receive their awards at a virtual ceremony on May 28, 2021.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 professors and academic librarians in 30 faculty associations across Ontario. It is committed to enhancing the quality of higher education and recognizing the outstanding contributions of its members towards creating a world-class university system. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at


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