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Support Staff Awards - International Centre for Students

International Centre for Students team // Photo by Dan Gwozdz

Support staff celebrated and honoured

June 25, 2015 — 

The Awards of Excellence for support staff celebrate the outstanding work done by members of the university support staff. This is the ninth year of the award ceremony, which has four categories: President’s, Leadership, Service and Team.

President’s Award

This award celebrates the exceptional contributions of support staff during their career at the university. The Award consists of a certificate of recognition and a financial award.

Iris Reece Tougas (posthumus)

Iris Reece Tougas served the U of M with distinction from 1972 until her retirement in 2013. Sadly Iris is no longer with us but her memory will live on at the University, especially to those who knew her personally. During her time at the University Iris was appointed the lead for a newly formed unit called the office of student recruitment which she held for seven years before becoming director of admissions in 2005. She stayed there until she retired in 2013. Her dedication to the University and her work are unquestionable as evidence by all that she had accomplished in her time here, from building and mentoring a successful team in the early days of the office of student recruitment to forming key important partnerships worldwide that led to significant growth of international students at the U of M. She also worked with the director of the Aboriginal Student Centre to help realize the vision of hiring the first Aboriginal student recruitment officer and was instrumental in the creation of U-Crew, a group of Indigenous student ambassadors. Like many great leaders Iris wasn’t remembered just for what she did, but how she did it. She was never too busy and her door was always open to those who needed help –whether it was for a complex issue or just sage advice.

“Iris had this odd ability to maintain a remarkable cool presentation of self while surrounding herself with an aura of warmth…she would coolly work through her checklist of points in the most reasonable and sensible voice I could imagine and, yet, she would come across, in a strange sort of way, as a friend you didn’t know you had or even a family member. That’s a gift when you’re in the business of managing people and recruiting students.”

Catherine Dunlop

Catharine Dunlop began her career at the University in the department of political studies on January 17, 1979. For 36 years she has been not just the voice of the department, but also its heart and soul. Her dedication and flexibility have made her the driving force of support behind departmental changes through the years. Through more than 20 acting and substantive heads of the department, each wanting to try a “new” approach, Catharine has not only supported their efforts but encouraged them to do so. Her support also extends to the department and its students, providing guidance as they stumble through registration/graduate paperwork or better yet guiding the staff and faculty as they navigate through the travel policies. Catharine is also the quiet champion of the department, constantly drawing the attention the contributions of the department and the University to the wider Winnipeg community. In part with that she is also the MPA co-op coordinator through which she forges new relationships with employers to provide the right fit and success for students in placements.

While there is not enough space to name everything the Catharine has accomplished in her time at the University it might be easier to leave you with how her colleagues would describe her: “A model of dedication; our prompter, our keeper, our reminderer, our cheerleader, our mirror and our organizer.”

Leadership Award

Celebrates support staff members who lead effective teams to achieve results. Effective leaders engage colleagues in ways that promote a common understanding of the team, unit or university’s mission or goals. These leaders inspire co-workers to work creatively and collaboratively.

Brandy Usick

As director, student advocacy and accessibility Brandy actively leads strong and effective teams in student advocacy, student accessibility services, and PlayCare. Brandy definitely leads by example, for instance Brandy maintains a role as a direct service provider in student advocacy which keeps her in touch with student issues but also builds credibility with her staff.  She doesn’t just ask for her teams to be known for their commitment to maintaining professionalism, fostering equity and achieving positive results, but lives it. Brandy also helps lead other teams across the University most notably the academic integrity working group, the childcare working group, and various initiatives related to the Cooper Commission report on academic accommodations, and these are only to name a few. Other initiatives Brandy has supported and helped implement are: the creation of in-house tutorials addressing common student requests/appeals, initiated the proposal for developing the assistive technology lab, and academic integrity week to promote the importance of academic integrity on campus. In the end it comes back to her staff. She is attuned to what they need and the areas of professional development that are available to them. She not only encourages them to continually improve themselves by arranging for various professional development opportunities, but seeks to improve herself as well.

Mary Kuzmeniuk

Mary Kuzmeniuk has shown her dedication to her work at the University for more than 25 years. She has been instrumental in keeping the department running effectively; she leads and coordinates the activities of a large and diverse team of 15 office support staff, laboratory and animal technicians, information technology specialists, and student advisors (this team won the Team Award of Excellence in 2010). This leadership was most recently tested as the department was dispersed across the university after the events of the Duff Roblin fire, yet Mary managed to make sure that she kept the department together and organized. Her dedication and leadership was also evident when the department returned to Duff Roblin and new staff needed to be trained. Despite being understaffed Mary personally ensured that everyone was trained for their new responsibilities all while carrying her own work load. Mary has also gone outside of the regular scope and helped support the department’s outreach to diverse learning communities; she has functioned as a liaison between the department and access and Aboriginal focus programs in the Faculty of Extended Education. Through all of this Mary has proven to be a role model for other members of the University, maintaining a consistent sense of respect, support, trust and collegiality.

Pat Milne

Pat is the supervisor of the serials team in the technical services department of the libraries. Under Pat’s leadership this team won the Team Award of Excellence in 2012. She has led her team very effectively through some trying times, managing to provide uninterrupted service despite a few challenges including: the installation and migration of a new library system (Alma), 50% loss in staff, and a 500% increase in trouble reports over the past year. Pat is not one to let a challenge get the better of her; she looks for a solution instead. When the second largest serials provider (Swets) went bankrupt Pat found a way to work with other providers to ensure minimal or no service interruptions. She also took charge of the Alma to Banner integration (no small feat!) and has logged countless hours to making it a success. Pat enjoys success, not only of her projects but of her employees as well. Pat frequently sits with her staff to ensure that they are set up for success, making sure to explain anything that they are unfamiliar with as opposed to saying “just figure it out”. She is also an advocate for her staff to explore additional professional development opportunities, and as was mentioned earlier spearheaded the effort for her team to be nominated for the Team Award of Excellence.

Service Award

Celebrates support staff members who have exhibited a high level of initiative, dedication and cooperation in their service to students, faculty, staff and the general public.

Jackie Gruber

Jackie Gruber is the human rights and conflict management officer at the U of M. Jackie is passionate about her role and making sure that the University is a safe and welcoming environment for everyone. Her dedication to the quality of service she provides is evident whenever you meet with Jackie. It’s evident because it doesn’t matter if it is 7:30 in the morning, lunch hour or on the weekends she will rearrange her schedule to meet with you as soon as possible. Jackie also finds time to sit on a number of committees and subcommittees to promote equity, diversity and inclusion. Here are a few examples: President Advisory Council on Respect (PACR), Racism and Discrimination Task Force, Indigenous Health Sub-Committee, just to name a few. Over time she has developed close working relationships with many of her colleagues and clients, and because of the reputation of trust that has built she is often sought out to give advice and guidance by various deans and department heads.

Janice Tilly

Through her boundless knowledge of her departments 4Ps (people, procedures, policies and programs) Janice has proven invaluable to each of the five acting deans, spread over her 20+ years in the Faculty of Engineering. During this time she has also overseen major changes in the way the department operates from the establishment of an online system for the review of all tenure and promotion documents to the development of an online portal for graduate student scholarships, bursaries and awards for the Faculty of Engineering. These were not only instrumental in keeping the faculty’s processes current but also helped reduce the University’s carbon footprint by reducing paper consumption for in these areas to near zero. While exceeding all expectations of her department Janice has also managed to complete a degree in kinesiology and recreation management and is in the final stages of her masters degree. Through her dedication to the Faculty, the respect and trust she has given and earned through the years Janice has set the tone for the entire department and is the model of professionalism and collegiality.

Ricardo Soriano

Ricardo Soriano is a research quality coordinator that supports the operations of the office of research ethics and compliance.  Ricardo brings and enthusiasm and spirit of excellence to all tasks and projects he is a part of. It is through this dedication to excellence on the human ethics resource committee (HERC) that Ricardo has made significant contributions to the university community. Through HERC initiatives Ricardo played an integral role in the 2012 launch of the research integrity tutorial, and he was and remains the contact person for the Epigeum research integrity tutorial team. Ricardo has also sought to expand his relationships outside of the University in an effort to advance researcher access to reliable data management support. He has also represented the University as a member of the western clinical trials network. As a continued journey Ricardo exhibits a desire to continually expand his knowledge by learning new skills through the WHRA health care ethics training, and even by temporarily (and capably) taking on additional research quality assurance manager responsibilities. Lastly, through everything he does, Ricardo leads by example as he shares his knowledge and experience in ways that promote a positive and respectful work environment.

Team Award

Celebrates teams or working groups that have performed an outstanding service for the benefit of the university community. While the team may include external partners of the university, at least half of the team members must be support staff.

Manitoba Institute for Materials

The team has had a big year with the realization and breaking ground of a new research and training facility.  The MIM team successfully brought together the funding, design and construction firms together along with internal stakeholders to create a new marquee research and training facility.  This new materials for composite and material characterization represents nearly $6 million in research infrastructure. They not only navigated the myriad of details that go with any renovation project, but also managed the nuances and specifics of a highly technical installation/commissioning document that ran over 2000 pages. It was a must to manage these specifics as they we also the conduit for the information with different stakeholders, and stayed at the ready to explain and give context to any of the extremely technical questions to ensure the project stayed on track. In the end the team forged a working relationship based on complimentary expertise and a willingness to learn from each others’ experience.

The Dream Team: Graduate and Professional Programs

The team is called the Dream Team for a reason. The team is extremely service focused, and makes a point of exceeding the expectations that have been placed on them. This goes as far as hand delivering important documents to various faculties and departments, truly going above and beyond expectations. They have created an environment built on mutual respect and collaboration, to the point that it can be hard to tell by looking who the “boss” actually is. This respect also carries to those they have helped and supported over the years, in fact they have even earned formal recognition from doctoral students in the acknowledgement section of their dissertations. Their attitudes toward change and adversity should be modeled across the University campus. As they go navigate through the ever growing changes and room displacements their attitude remains positive as they look for the best in every situation.

International Centre for Students

The ICS team demonstrates exceptional commitment, team spirit and a willingness to go far beyond the call of duty to provide an exceptional student experience and outstanding workplace. They have accomplished this in the face of growing challenges this past year including a 33% reduction in staff dedicated to international student advising along with growing student numbers and profound changes to the immigrant and refugee protection act and guidelines for citizenship and immigration for Canada’s international student program. The team is extremely dedicated to their students and to better serve them have fosters relationships across the University with faculties and student groups. Their works has paid off as they reported over 80% of their students were satisfied or very satisfied with their experience. The team is also involved in many efforts to benefit students such as chairing the international students network and participating in the student affair communication committee. Aside from the students they also seek to grow the student affairs culture through the student affairs assessment working group.

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