President's Distinguished Service Awards celebrate exceptional staff

- Melanie Groves

The celebration of this year's award recipients, hosted by President David Turpin, took place on March 3 in the First Peoples House Ceremonial Hall. Reeta Tremblay, UVic’s vice-president academic and provost, and Kane Kilbey, associate vice-president human resources, made presentations before Turpin handed out the awards.

“Every year it gives me great pleasure to celebrate the nominees of the PDSA program and announce the award recipients,” says President Turpin. “I applaud the talent, dedication and innovation of this year’s recipients. They are representative of all of our exceptional employees, who contribute so much to the success of our university.”

This year, the Team Award for Innovation was presented to the staff of the School of Public Administration. The individual award winners were: Chris Coey (Linguistics), First Five Years: Outstanding Contribution; Ralph Scheurle (Office of Research Services), Award for Outstanding Service; and Martin Segger (University of Victoria Art Collections), Award for Outstanding Leadership.

Team Award for Innovation

School of Public Administration

Congratulations to the School of Public Administration team members: administrative/professional staff for academic programs Jill Taylor, Heather Kirkham, Silvia Dulc and Wendy Swan; clerical staff for academic programs Belle Young, Tara Da Silva, Judy Selina and Bonnie Keleher; Centre for Public Sector Studies staff Thea Vakil, Jennifer Guest and Arielle Guetta; and Co-Operative Education staff Barbara Svec and Christine Corr.

Due to the hard work and “outside the box” creativity and collaboration of this staff team, the School of Public Administration has achieved its vision of significantly expanding graduate enrolment and diversifying on-campus and online programming.

“The accomplishments of the School have been the product of a team effort among professional and secretarial staff, which allowed for the pursuit of change and innovation across boundaries, while allowing each person to move forward with their responsibilities,” says Evert Lindquist, Director. “During a broad restructuring process, staff were instrumental in identifying efficiencies and new approaches, and demonstrated a willingness to adapt to change and program growth.”

Since 2006, enrolment has increased by 50 per cent in the Masters of Public Administration (MPA) On Campus program, and a parallel MPA Online program with an equivalent enrolment has been introduced. The School took on responsibility for the MA in Dispute Resolution program in 2008, and introduced another new program, the MA in Community Development, in 2010. The School has also established a PhD program, introduced three Graduate Certificate programs and a Graduate Diploma, and an expanded Co-op Education program.

The staff rose to the challenge of administering new programs for an increased student intake with the addition of only one staff position, and while simultaneously handling day-to-day responsibilities and initiatives. How did they do it? According to the School’s Acting Director Herman Bakvis, “Our staff were able to step back to re-examine and re-align work responsibilities, explore and take up the possibilities of new technology for both online teaching and administrative processing, and proactively collaborate with staff colleagues in other units.”

“As a team, this group works with dedication and focus not only to fulfill the School’s strategic plan, but to do so with the values and goals of the university in mind and always with the benefit of students at the forefront of their efforts,” says Mary Ellen Purkis, Dean of the Faculty of Human and Social Development. “Throughout all phases of a student’s experience with the School and with the university, staff are consistently professional and positive, exemplifying both the values and goals of the School in relation to public service as well as the values of the university for student-centredness.”

Award for Excellence in Leadership

Martin Segger, University of Victoria Art Collections

Walk into any building or through any public space on the UVic campus, and chances are you will pass a piece of the legacy of Martin Segger’s three-decade-long career. Over 7,000 works of art from the university collection now enhance the UVic campus, part of the 27,000-object collection that Segger built up and nurtured over his many years as director and curator of the Maltwood Art Museum and Gallery (now University of Victoria Art Collections).

Segger oversaw the 2007 opening of the Legacy Gallery – UVic’s gallery, teaching and meeting space in downtown Victoria – established and developed the groundbreaking Cultural Resource Management Program in Continuing Studies, and served as UVic’s first Director of Government and Community Relations. Up until his retirement in December 2010, he mentored students through his roles at the Maltwood and the University Centre Farquhar Auditorium and as an adjunct professor in the department of History in Art.

"Over Martin’s 37 years at UVic, his steady leadership has grown to include national and international communities, organizations and cultural approaches that have rendered him and UVic as recognized leaders on community-university collaborations, cultural resource management and heritage initiatives,” says Valerie Kuehne, Vice-President External Relations. “He has, sometimes single-handedly, ensured that UVic’s art collection and related cultural commitments remain a priority for generations of administrators.”

Beyond the campus, Segger’s resume of community involvement is exhaustive. An authority in the museum and heritage fields, he is Past President of the International Council of Museums, and a fellow of the Canadian Museums Association and Royal Society of Arts. He served on Victoria City Council from 1988 to 1993, and has participated on countless local, national and international committees and boards, including the Provincial Capital Commission, Victoria Harbour Authority, BC Heritage Trust, Heritage Canada Foundation, City of Victoria Heritage Advisory Committee and Commonwealth Association of Museums.

Segger lent his expertise to several UVic building advisory committees and most recently collaborated with artist John Livingston on the completion of artworks for the First Peoples House. In his “spare time,” Segger has penned numerous books, articles, reviews and other publications.

According to Alastair Kerr, Senior Manager in the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, “Throughout his brilliant career, Martin strove for Victoria to be a better place to live, to have the university a more integral part of community life, for arts, culture and heritage to be an important part of that community at home and abroad.”

Award for Excellence in Service

Ralph Scheurle, Office of Research Services

When people think of the Animal Services Unit at UVic, they think of Ralph Scheurle. For over 36 years, Scheurle has devoted his career to the growth and improvement of the unit, and has gone the extra mile in his work and his interactions with other members of the university community.

“Ralph has been a key part of the growth of the research mission at UVic, responding to the requirements of faculty in providing high quality infrastructure support,” notes Rachael Scarth, Acting Associate Vice-President Research (Planning and Operations). “Ralph consistently focuses on the goal of providing high quality services to UVic faculty, while ensuring the highest standards of animal care and the best possible working conditions for staff.”

During his career, Scheurle has provided support and mentoring for students, faculty and staff while supervising a large staff with diverse responsibilities in animal care. He has also been instrumental in coordinating the design and construction of several campus facilities: the Outdoor Aquatics Unit, the Medical Sciences Building animal care unit, and most recently the animal care unit in the Bob Wright Centre. From design through start-up, Scheurle collaborated with architects, tradespeople, suppliers and other UVic staff to ensure the successful completion of this state-of-the-art facility.

Staff members, researchers and department colleagues speak of Scheurle’s unfailingly positive attitude, dedication and ‘make it work’ approach. Beyond Ring Road, he has volunteered his time with the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) as an animal facility inspection panel member and in 2008, received a commendation from the CCAC for “his remarkable dedication to the animal care and use program.”

Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology Manager of Technical Support Albert Labossiere, who has worked with Scheurle for 25 years, sums up Scheurle’s contribution to the university community: “In essence Ralph has been the animal care equivalent of the one-man-band but with the distinction that he has performed like a symphony orchestra!”

Scheurle characteristically deflects the applause onto his team. “I feel my success is the result of a team effort and I’d like to acknowledge my dedicated staff, the university’s senior administration for their strong support of the Animal Care Unit and also the support of other units, particularly Facilities Management and Occupational Health, Safety and Environment,” he says. “This has not just been a job – it’s been a career, and working with the people here has been my true pleasure and incentive.”

Award for First Five Years: Outstanding Contribution

Chris Coey

“What would we do without Chris?” This refrain runs through the nomination package and reference letters for Chris Coey, recipient of the President’s Distinguished Service Award for First Five Years: Outstanding Contribution. Coey has clearly become an integral and indispensable member of the Department of Linguistics since signing on as a programmer and IT consultant in 2006.

On paper, Coey’s job calls for him to provide technical support for linguistics classes and in the Phonetics Lab, maintain equipment and instruments, offer technical training and create software applications for faculty and graduate researchers.

In practice, Coey goes far beyond the call of duty in assisting faculty and students and tending to the department’s hardware and software needs. A consummate problem solver, Coey is described by Associate Professor Leslie Saxon as “kind, optimistic–always positive–with an idea or two for solving every task that comes his way.”

A UVic alumnus with two bachelor’s degrees in sociology and psychology, Coey’s creativity and initiative have resulted in the development of innovative computer applications that have expanded the potential of faculty research projects. For example, Coey pioneered the video capture program UltraCap since no off-the-shelf software was available to record and save high-quality ultrasound videos of vocal tract articulations. Other speech-research labs around the world are now using this novel application, which is trademarked by the Department of Linguistics.

Coey’s programming applications have also been adopted in Indigenous communities across the country for use in language revitalization projects. By integrating recorded audio files with text material, Coey created both an online dictionary (the Dogrib Multimedia Dictionary) that speaks the words and phrases of the Dene language, and a recently developed ‘app’ for mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad. Slated for release this summer, the app allows a scaled-down version of the dictionary to be available remotely, on demand. Coey’s technological innovations make Indigenous languages accessible not only to the communities involved in the research but to anyone with an interest and access to the Internet.

According to Lorna Williams, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Knowledge and Learning, Coey’s “artistry, creativity, technical wizardry, love of technology, knowledge, work ethic, good humour, patience and positive nature brings out the best in the work of the department. He helps us be better at the work we do with his kind and knowledgeable support.”

On his own time, Coey plays the guitar in a band with other UVic alumni. “My job is a perfect fit - I can use my skills in audio recording and multimedia computing, and am continually learning,” he says. “I am fortunate to have the freedom to simply do what I do best and follow my passions while helping others tame technology.”

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Keywords: exceptional, staff, honoured

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