CIRHR Convocation Messages

June 23, 2021 by CIRHR Communications

Congratulations on your convocation! We at the CIRHR are very, very proud of all of you. Since we can’t celebrate in person right now, faculty, instructors and staff at the Centre are sending you our congratulations and best wishes in this video message.

Acting Director, Dionne Pohler


  • Manda Vrkjlan, Librarian, and Sarah Morgan, Library Technician
  • Santiago Campero, Assistant Professor
  • Anita Boey, Course Instructor
  • Greg Distelhorst, Assistant Professor
  • Carol Canzano-Hamala, Coordinator, Graduate Program and Career Services
  • Ann Armstrong, Course Instructor
  • Padraic Scanlan, Assistant Professor
  • Vicki Skelton, Librarian
  • Raj Uttamchandani, Course Instructor
  • Frank Reid, Professor Emeritus; Associate Director, Graduate Program
  • Dionne Pohler, Associate Professor; Acting Director of the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources


Dionne Pohler

On behalf of the faculty and staff at the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources I would like to extend my congratulations to all of you, our certificate, undergraduate, Masters and PhD students, who will have your degrees and certificates conferred upon you at the University of Toronto Spring 2021 convocation celebration. You should all be so incredibly proud of your accomplishment. And while I'm very disappointed that we still cannot celebrate convocation in person, I'm very happy that the occasion has given me an excuse to get dressed up in my own convocation gown to record this message of congratulations to you all. 

Manda Vrkljan

Congratulations from the library.

Sarah Morgan

We hope you'll stay in touch as alumni. All the very best.

Santiago Campero

I just wanted to say congratulations to all of our new grads, especially those of you that I've had in class over the past few years. Great job and come back and visit us soon.

Anita Boey

People will hear your name and recognize your work. Onward you will go, opportunities await. Unveiling new discoveries, creating new knowledge. Dear class of 2021, we are so proud of you.

We're so proud of you indeed. These years of dedicated hard work is well worth it. You have shown great strength, resilience in times of uncertainty, and compassion for your fellow classmates. You have a bright future, and we're so excited for you. It has been an honor to be part of such an important journey in your life. Well done and congratulations again, class of 2021.

Greg Distelhorst

Hi class of 2021. This has been a really exceptional year and I just wanted to say how impressed and moved I was by the effort I saw you put into finishing your degrees. So congratulations from me and from this guy here as well. Hope you keep in touch.

Carol Canzano Hamala

Hi everyone, class, graduating class of June 2021. I'm so excited for you all and I'm so sorry that we can't be there in person together. You didn't get to experience my great catering skills at the after graduation luncheon where I get to feed you all. I didn't cook, I ordered but I'm still very good at it.

Anyway, I just wanted to say congratulations to all of you. It's been such a pleasure to have you on the program. Please stay in touch. I'm sure I'll be emailing you constantly for your help and guidance with other students coming into the program. You are all veterans of the Master's, you know the in's and outs, and there's no better promoters of our program than our graduates and I've just had such a wonderful time working with you all and I wish you all the best in any future studies you plan and your career ahead. Please stay in touch and don't forget us at the Centre for Industrial Relations, University of Toronto.


Ann Armstrong

Congratulations for earning the MIRHR degree. It's a demanding program and you should be very proud of your accomplishments. I've been fortunate to work with many of you who are graduating this year and I'm fully confident that you will do the profession proud.

Padraic Scanlan

Oh. Oh sorry, I didn't see you there.

I was just in my office catching up on a little bit of light reading now the term is over and I always find I feel a little sharper when I'm wearing my academic regalia. And I'm really sorry that we won't be able to join you this year at graduation in your academic regalia and get a chance as a as a faculty and as a community to celebrate your achievements.

This has been a really hard year to be a student, and it's been a really hard year to be anybody really. And it's a testament to your commitment and your perseverance that you managed to make it through to graduation. And I'm sure that your futures are bright and I'm sure that there are better days to come.

And so on behalf of the Centre and all my colleagues, I wish you hartiest congratulations on your convocation day and my hartiest regrets that we won't be able to spend it with you.

Vicki Skelton

Hello, from your IRHR librarian, Vicki. I'm currently on research leave.

Congratulations MIHHR, graduates of 2021. What a difficult year this is been and yet here you are with graduate degrees and the post-nominal letters MIRHR that each of you will now place after your name. The online graduation ceremony is a celebration of your accomplishments. Enjoy your moment. You deserve the recognition and to feel that mixture of relief and joy. I invite each of you to visit us in the library once the building reopens and regular services return.

Good luck and have a great summer.

Music: ...they always say congratulations...

Raj Uttamchandani

Congratulations everyone, I hope you're having an amazing day, you really, really deserve it. I'm really sorry that I can't be there in person, but hopefully we'll see each other soon. 

I think I wanted to say a few things today and the first is remember how special this degree is. Remember how special it is that you've got it. I think it's really easy when you're in this program because you're surrounded by people in the degree to not remember that. But if you think about it, there's only three HR programs in the  country at the Master's level. And always remember that you have the alumni of the program always there to help you and just don't forget that.

I think the second thing I wanted to say is having this degree really opens up the possibilities for the type of career you want, so just make sure you're really true to yourself and you're choosing the career that suits you. And if you're ever, you know, in a spot or a space where you don't feel like your full potential is being realized, where you don't feel like you're learning, where you're not having fun everyday, just remember, this degree will always give you options. 

I think the final thing, and something I've learned a lot and I think it's been accentuated in COVID, but just remember work is important and I hope you have a lot of fun  and are super successful. Also just remember all the people that supported you in this program. Remember your friends, remember your family and all those amazing relationships that you know that you have. Those are actually the most important thing in the world. Just never forget that.

Pleasure teaching you if you were in my class and I hope to stay in touch. Take care.

Frank Reid

Hello graduates, this is Frank Reid. I'm the Associate Director at the Centre and also the Graduate Coordinator of the MIRHR program. I

 just want to offer my congratulations to the class of 2021. You have survived and in fact thrived in a tough year of COVID-19 restrictions when all of the courses in the Master's program were offered online only. The class of 2021 will be memorable in the history of the 40 plus year history of our Master's program.

I know at the beginning of the year some of you were a little concerned that your grades might be adversely affected by online learning, but I've seen the grade distributions in the courses and they look remarkably good. Maybe helped a little bit by the fact that all the exams were take home open book. Nevertheless.

I also know that some of the instructors in the program were a little bit concerned that their course evaluations might be adversely affected by teaching online. I had a look at the results of the course evaluations and they are highly rated as usual. So thank you for being kind in your assessments of us, particularly those like myself, who struggled a little bit with the technology for the first few lectures.

Finally, I just want to wish all of you great success in your future careers in HR and IR. I hope you'll maintain contact with the center in the future. We would love to hear from you either digitally or even better in person. Thank you very much.

Dionne Pohler

Take a moment to really celebrate this milestone, which is really all the more incredible given the circumstances of the past year, your resilience and ability to adapt and continue learning in a situation that was not ideal will serve you well throughout your life. 

At every convocation, we thank the loved ones of our graduating students. And this year when we've spent so much time apart, but have needed, our social connections more than ever, we're especially grateful to your families and friends for their support in helping you reach this incredible milestone under particularly challenging circumstances.

You're all graduating into a world that really needs you. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical importance in understanding issues related to the world of work. The challenges that the pandemic has raised for governments, employers, workers and unions aren't new, but they've really never been more urgent to address. You're graduating with the knowledge to help the organisations, you'll join better navigate the post-pandemic recovery. 

And as you graduate today, you're joining a  wonderful community of alumni. Our alumni remain a key part of the life of the Centre for Industrial Relations, and Human Resources long after graduation, and I really encourage you to become engaged with this accomplished, supportive group to which you all now belong. And I certainly hope that you will continue to stay in touch with the Centre and to share your future accomplishments with us.

I'd like to end by sharing a short meditation from an from an Ojibwe author and storyteller, Richard Wagamese, and his beautiful compilation titled Embers.

This meditation is written in the form of a short conversation between the author and an old woman who turns up throughout the compilation and she always has incredible wisdom to share and this particular meditation focuses on ceremony.

The author asks the old woman, "What is the purpose of ceremony"

And the old woman responds, "To lead you to yourself."

The author asks, "How?"

And the old woman responds, "By giving you an idea of who you want to be, and then allowing you to create the experience of being that way."

The author asks, "Which ceremony is the best then?"

The old woman responds, "Life. Choose what leads you to the highest vision you can have of yourself, and then choose what allows you to express that. What you express you experience and what you experience you are."

The author asks, "How do I prepare?"

And the old woman responds, "Breathe."

Congratulations once again on this incredible achievement and I hope to see you all in person at some point soon.

Return to the CIRHR's June 2021 convocation main page

Frank Reid Prize Profile

Matt Dowdle Leadership in IRHR Award