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PESA celebrates the contributions of UVic employees

The celebration of this year's President's Extraordinary Service Award nominees and recipients, hosted by President Jamie Cassels, took place on May 3 at Cadboro Commons, following the first day of the Connect U conference.

The first year of the President’s Extraordinary Service Awards (formerly the President’s Distinguished Service Awards) saw an impressive 26 individuals or teams nominated in five new award categories: Cultivator, Collaborator, Connector, Innovator and Navigator. The 19 individual and seven team nominations covered every VP portfolio and all employee groups.

"It’s always a great pleasure for me to celebrate our remarkable nominees and recipients for their dedication and service to the university," says President Cassels. "Each of the nominees is deserving of recognition and it was very challenging to select this year’s recipients. I congratulate and sincerely thank each of them for their contributions and dedication to UVic."

Collaborator: Annalee Lepp

Annalee Lepp

As chair of the Department of Gender Studies and most recently as chair of UVic’s Working Group on Sexualized Violence Programs and Policy Development, Annalee Lepp exemplifies the best principles of respectful collaboration and is one of the university's strongest advocates for positive social change.

“I can think of no one more deserving of an award that celebrates exceptional and collaborative leadership which brings people together for a cause,” says associate dean Cedric Littlewood (Graduate Studies). Lepp is a regular faculty member, whose work extends into numerous areas including senate and various subcommittees, and as a vocal advocate of UVic’s Uni 101 program and as an external program reviewer for academic departments across Canada.

“Not only is Annalee a scholar and teacher of great standing,” say the deans of humanities (Chris Goto-Jones), social sciences (Catherine Krull) and science (Rob Lipson), “but she's that rare instance of a scholar who locates their integrity in a living commitment to the ideas and principles of their scholarship.”

Connector: Mandy Crocker

Mandy Crocker

As coordinator of the UVic Speakers Bureau for nearly 30 years, Mandy Crocker (University Communications + Marketing) connects 450 to 500 volunteer speakers each year with more than 18,000 audience members in the community.

“The work she does, so brilliantly,” says Lara Lauzon, a volunteer speaker and faculty member in UVic’s School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education, “can be described as a unique outreach program that helps people learn more about what we do. It opens the door for people who attend [the bureau] to feel welcome to explore our campus, connect with our programs and celebrate our ‘extraordinary’ academic environment.”

The Speakers Bureau service is a vital, living link between UVic and community, and thanks to Crocker’s keen sense of responsibility, efficiency and unflagging enthusiasm, it is a “runaway success” with record numbers of bookings. Countless schools, community organizations and seniors groups reach back to her not merely to praise the program but to extend personal notes of gratitude.

Multiply that kind of connection—10,000 talks over three decades—and it’s obvious why Crocker’s commitment makes an impact well beyond the campus.

Cultivator: Zachary Andrus

Zac Andrus

As campus engagement officer for the Department of Athletics and Recreation, Zac Andrus has been instrumental in the creation, nurturing and growth of Vikes Nation. “Harnessing the energy and enthusiasm of UVic students, Zac has elevated the awareness and participation of our programs, services and events, which has contributed directly to thousands of students’ positive experiences and successes at UVic,” says Clint Hamilton, director of Vikes Athletics and Recreation.

Andrus’s passion and work ethic are behind the Vikes Nation Ambassador program, which has created leadership and learning opportunities for 250 volunteer student ambassadors. In 2016, the ambassadors logged 3,000 volunteer hours putting on events such as the Blue and Gold Blitz, Yoga Rave and Dodge in the Dark.

“Zac is an activator, someone who turns ideas into action, inspiring the energy of students who believe in the vision of a healthy and active community at UVic,” says orientation coordinator Kate Hollefreund. “Zac’s contributions are truly award-worthy for his ability to move the culture of school spirit into a nation of support.”

Innovator Award: Ahmad Hammado

Ahmed Hammado

As manager of applications and data in the Division of Continuing Studies, Ahmad Hammado is responsible for delivering new and improved software system functionality with a focus on the Student Records System (SRS). He's provided new IT solutions to many program areas, resulting in improved efficiency and data management while improving the end-user experience.

Paula Leahy, associate director of the English Language Centre, says “We've moved forward exponentially since Ahmad came to work with us. Our processes are immeasurably more efficient, and we're using tools we had no idea existed, making us wonder sometimes if perhaps Ahmad is magic, or at the very least a mind reader.”

Hammado is “one of those rare multi-talented people with an amazing personality, seemingly boundless energy, oodles of creativity and a willingness to give anything a try,” says Rob Little, director of information technology. We always hear him say, ‘If it can’t be done in three steps, then we can make it better!’”

Navigator: Cassbreea Dewis

Cassbreea Dewis

Cassbreea Dewis is frequently called upon to lead large projects, thanks to her exceptional leadership skills and her ability to pull people together to work for the greater good of the university and community. In addition to her role as governance services manager in the Office of the University Secretary, in the past year Dewis has, with Chair Annalee Lepp, managed the Working Group on Sexualized Violence Programs and Policy Development, initiated and expedited a university-wide policy renewal process, and participated in an equity structure review.

"Cassbreea’s commitment to respect, collaboration, communication and cooperation among colleagues and university constituents and her ability to understand and navigate the university community was instrumental for the working group,” says associate vice-president of human resources Kane Kilbey.

“Cassbreea treats everyone with respect and has an excellent sense of humour, which both go a long way when advancing equity and inclusion in a complex and diverse organization,” notes Mary Ellen Purkis, acting director of the Equity and Human Rights Office. “She exemplifies what's sometimes called the ‘UVic way,’ a highly inclusive approach to the development of new initiatives. Cassbreea’s extraordinary contributions have furthered well-being for all members of the UVic community.”

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