Sonia Del Missier
Winning the 2015 Community Builders Award for Education came as a complete surprise to Sonia Del Missier. The vice-president, academic at Cambrian College since 2001, she didn’t even know she was nominated for the award. Her colleagues and admirers know she prefers to work behind the scenes.
“Sonia would discourage anyone from nominating her,” says someone who knows her well.
Del Missier’s contributions to post-secondary education are considerable. She is one of the few administrators who has worked with all of the college’s presidents. Among her many roles, at one time or another, she was responsible for supervising the Cambrian Fitness Centre, the Glenn Crombie Centre for Disability Services, translation services, and staff development.
In her role, as dean, academic support program division (1988 to 1993), she was responsible for aboriginal programs, basic adult education, and the Manitoulin/Espanola satellite campus. She has also overseen special needs education.
She is most proud of her role in formulating a formal partnership agreement between the college and Laurentian University.
In her position as vice-president, strategic development from 1998 to 2001, Del Missier demonstrated the vision and leadership needed to transform the role of a community college. She strengthened and expanded Cambrian’s links and educational partnerships with the business, industrial, professional and international communities.
She has also contributed to higher education at the provincial level and served on provincial boards, committees and task forces.
Del Missier has helped thousands of students get the education they needed and wanted in their own communities, which contributes to the growth and prosperity of these communities. If students had not been able to access education in the Sudbury area, they would have more likely ended up leaving the community for good. Or they might not have been able to seek employment opportunities anywhere which would be a waste of human resources and a drain on social support programs.
Her contributions to the community are numerous. A graduate of Laurentian University, she is a member of the university’s board of governors.
“She always brings great insights and feedback in her volunteer roles,” writes Laurentian president Dominic Giroux to the awards judges. “Her extensive involvement at Laurentian does speak to the quality of the institutional relationship between Laurentian University and Cambrian College. More importantly, it speaks to the high regard community members have for her (and) what she had accomplished throughout her career.”
In 2002, Del Missier received the Outstanding Community Service Award from the Sudbury Multicultural and Folk Arts Association and she is a member of the Rotary Club of Sudbury Sunrisers.
Del Missier has used her considerable administration skills to benefit the Canadian Cancer Society. She has been a volunteer since 1992 when she joined the fundraising committee. She served as president of the Sudbury and District Unit, and in 1997 she was Ontario North East president.
“She raised $10,000 shaving her head, sells daffodils every year, knocks on doors during the residential door-to-door campaign and raised funds during special events,” says Cathy Burns, community manager of the Canadian Cancer Society.
“I have been truly blessed (at Cambrian). There has always been an expectation that one should be involved with the community. So they’ve always been very supportive of my community activities,” says Del Missier.
Born in Italy, she immigrated to Canada with her parents when she was four. She attended Marymount College and dreamed of a career as a translator at the United Nations. After graduating from Laurentian in 1978 – she speaks French, Italian and Spanish, as well as English – she got a job in continuing education at Cambrian where her ability to speak French was an asset.
As it turns out, working at the college has given her the opportunities she dreamed about: interesting and challenging work; meeting fascinating people; and travel.
“I am kind of glad I didn’t get a job in translation.”