The 2017 CHCCS/SCDHM Service Award of the Canadian Human-Computer Communications Society is presented to Adrian Sheppard for his many contributions to the Canadian digital media community in his role as the Network Manager for the Graphics, Animation and New Media Network of Centres of Excellence (GRAND).
From the outset, Adrian Sheppard was a key member of the network’s management team. He initially held the position of Director of Operations, but was quickly promoted to Network Manager during his first year, a position he held for the remainder of GRAND’s tenure as a Network of Centres of Excellence and during the post-network wind-down period. As network manager, Adrian was responsible for all aspects of the operational management of the network and he was GRAND’s primary liaison with the NCE Secretariat. He put in place policies and procedures for managing the network and was instrumental in setting up the financial structures necessary for the multi-university partnership. He worked closely with GRAND’s Board of Directors and Research Management Committee, as well as with many of the faculty, postdoc, and student network researchers and their corporate and public partners.
Adrian’s tireless efforts to ensure that GRAND met the financial and reporting requirements of the NCE program no doubt gave the impression to many that running an NCE was easy. It was not. Adrian was never hesitant to step in when something – or someone – drifted off course, but he always did so in good spirit, with a sense of humor and with consideration for the complex inter-relationships within the broad set of stakeholders that made the GRAND network such a unique organization within the digital media research community in Canada.
Adrian brought a wealth of experience to the role of network manager. Prior to joining GRAND, Mr. Sheppard worked for the Office of Research Services at Simon Fraser University where he negotiated and managed research contracts and worked closely with the University Industry Liaison Office (UILO) on agreements related to the protection and commercialization of intellectual property arising from university research. He had also worked for the Ministry of Finance and Corporate Relations of the BC Provincial Government on its Intangible Property Program, which is responsible for the commercialization of government-owned intellectual property.
As the network manager of GRAND, Adrian Sheppard was the driving force in the development of the Forum, the software system GRAND developed to collect data for the network’s reports to the NCE Secretariat. Adrian’s ability to interpret policies and procedures into realistic software requirements while balancing the network’s reporting needs and researchers’ sensitivities to administrative overhead showed his understanding of the perfect-functionality vs. usefulness-at-a-deadline trade-off. In this and in all other tasks that he undertook, his wry sense of humour and calm balanced approach to managing competing interests proved invaluable to the success of the network. The Forum software was subsequently adopted by other NCEs as their reporting platform, a testament to its comprehensive and flexible design.
A native of Calgary, Alberta, Mr. Sheppard holds a law degree (1996) and a bachelor of mathematics (1994) from the University of Victoria and bachelor’s degrees in philosophy (1985, with distinction) and English (1983) from the University of Calgary. As a law student, he received the David Roberts Prize in Legal Writing, the J.C. Scott-Harston Prize in Wills Drafting, and the Royal Trust Prize in Trusts. He received a Public Service Awards – Partnership Gold Award from the Province of British Columbia in 2001. He was probably the only network manager of an NCE able to knowledgeably discuss the Axiom of Choice.
GRAND NCE was created in 2009 through the Networks of Centres of Excellence program to employ an interdisciplinary and interconnected approach to address Canada’s technological, creative, socio-economic, legal and cultural challenges in digital media. Over the course of its five-year life, the network made significant progress in realizing this vision. Through its innovation and creative achievements, GRAND research developed lasting social, health, and economic benefits that will improve the quality of life of all Canadians and enhance Canada’s global competitiveness. GRAND linked 250+ researchers at 33 Canadian universities in nine provinces, as well as 184 industry partners and other receptors, who were the stakeholders and receptors of the research outcomes. The sense of community that GRAND fostered in Canadian digital media is, in large part, due to Adrian Sheppard’s steadfast leadership as Network Manager.