President’s distinguished service awards 2012

- Mitch Wright

The celebration of this year’s President’s Distinguished Service Awards, hosted by President David Turpin, took place on Feb. 21 at the Cadboro Commons Dining Room, as the closing event for the Connect U all-staff conference.

“Every year—and especially this year as we celebrate our 50th anniversary—it is our pleasure to honour the nominees and the recipients of the President’s Distinguished Service Awards,” says Turpin. “This year’s recipients display talent, hard work, innovation and dedication—qualities representative of all of our exceptional employees across campus. We greatly appreciate the many significant contributions the 2012 PDSA recipients have made to the success and the outstanding reputation of our university.”

This year, the Team Award for Innovation was presented to the Scientists and Innovators in the Schools team—Kelli Fawkes, Jane Browning and Dave Berry—from the chemistry department. The individual award winners are: Anne Heinl (Fine Arts), Award for Excellence in Service; Cheryl Crooks (Facilities Management), Award for Excellence in Service; Dave Street (University Systems), Award for Excellence in Leadership; and Chris Secord (Physics and Astronomy), First Five Years: Outstanding Contribution.

Team Award for Innovation

Scientists and Innovators in the Schools Team–Chemistry

In the past decade, the University of Victoria’s Scientists and Innovators in the Schools (SIS) team has reached more than 30,000 students across BC with hands-on chemistry workshops.

The team involves three core members—Kelli Fawkes, Jane Browning and Dave Berry, who has coordinated the UVic effort since 1994—as well as many dozens of graduate and undergraduate students (nearly 100 in the last five years alone).

The team has had a vast and phenomenal impact by visiting schools to demonstrate experiments and involve budding scientists from Kindergarten to Grade 6.

UVic provides the “real scientists” for the program, which focuses on providing hands-on interactions with real chemicals and experiments, under close and careful guidance.

The program has a decidedly positive impact on the children, but the impact on the “real scientists” is no less profound, says Department of Chemistry Chair Neil Burford.

“If there is a core innovation, it has been the recognition that acting as a scientist role model for school-age children is a very positive learning experience for undergraduate and graduate students,” Burford says. “Many cite their SIS experience as a highlight of their UVic studies. This is what experiential learning is supposed to achieve and is a direct consequence of the insights, focus and dedication of the UVic SIS Chemistry Team.”

Award for Excellence in Service

Anne Heinl, Faculty of Fine Arts

At any given hour of the day, Anne Heinl is likely meeting with a student, talking on the phone with a student, or answering student emails by the dozen.

A university employee for the past 20 years, Heinl has been in the Faculty of Fine Arts for 15 years. As the undergraduate academic advising officer, she counsels approximately 1,400 students each year. Students are without question her top priority.
“Fine arts students are a part of her big extended family,” says Lynne Van Luven, the faculty’s acting dean. “From the first meeting, she is right there alongside for each student’s personal journey, no matter how much time it takes to help them achieve their goals.”

Over her years at the institution, Heinl has served and continues to serve on a range of university and faculty-level committees, making significant contributions to policies, process and procedures. She is also the in-house expert—the person staff and faculty members turn to for advice in a multitude of areas, says Van Luven.

“She is truly a repository of knowledge about process, history and especially curriculum,” she says. “One is never afraid to ask her a question—nor to seek her advice in a complicated matter involving student grades or academic concessions. Her support is immediate and unstinting.”

Award for Excellence in Service

Cheryl Crooks, Janitorial Services, Facilities Management

Everyone in the Visual Arts Building relies on Cheryl Crooks—for far more than keeping the building clean and looking sharp, although she does that too, and very well.

For more than 23 years, Crooks—one of two winners of this year’s Award for Excellence in Service—has worked with Janitorial Services. She was assigned the Visual Arts Building because of her commitment to safety, sustainability and high standards.

“Cheryl has transformed ordinary janitorial tasks into a commitment to green cleaning and sustainability,” says Helena Miklea, manager of Janitorial Services.

Miklea adds that, as a member of the Facilities Management Occupational Health and Safety Committee, Crooks is constantly promoting safety and is a true role model in taking that responsibility well beyond attending meetings. “Her devotion to educating others about safe practices and applying safety is a way of life.”

She’s also fun, and always looking to make the people around her laugh.

Daniel Wilkin, the department’s facilities and production manager, says Crooks is fantastic for morale and community building, with her “sparkling personality and great attitude.”

“She is a stickler for detail and treats the building as she does her home and the people in it as family,” he adds, “always with an eye on the event schedule so she knows when ‘company’s coming.’”

Award for Excellence in Leadership

David Street, University Systems

David Street is a problem solver. And problems come fast and furious to Street, manager of the Service Centre within University Systems, responsible for the Computer Help Desk and Desktop Support Services teams, which provide front-line assistance to all faculty, staff and students at the university.

Faced with a problem, he’s constantly looking for a path to successfully overcome the challenge and do so to the highest standards.

“David is highly resourceful and is always looking for ways to achieve what others state cannot be done,” says Nav Bassi, director of Academic and Administrative Services.

He adds that Street is committed to excellent customer service—always considering that the clients are the people who rely on technology—and working tirelessly to ensure projects and changes are scheduled and adequately tested to minimize impact on those users.

“Over the past year alone, David has shown leadership by extending himself well beyond the expectations of his position in order to help provide a better learning and working environment at UVic,” says Bassi.

Street’s colleagues also recognize his strength in teambuilding, whether with his own staff or working with other departments, as well as his understanding of the often complex and shifting environment and willingness and ability to “get the big picture” to best serve his clients, staff and the university.

Award for First Five Years: Outstanding Contribution

Chris Secord, Department of Physics and Astronomy

Chris Secord joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy as a machinist in 2008 and assumed leadership of the shop two years later.

He was immediately faced with completing the first major reorganization of the shop—the largest dedicated machining space on campus—in 40 years. A daunting task, but one Secord showed he had the skills and vision to accomplish beyond expectations. The shop now serves and supports researchers in a number of departments across campus, always working to the highest standards while often finding creative ways to economize without compromising quality.

“Chris has made outstanding contributions that strengthen the learning and research environment, and he serves—through his personal integrity and commitment to excellence—as an example for the entire university community to emulate,” says Department Chair Robert Kowalewski.

Secord also has an admirable sense of being part of a larger team, seen daily as he provides skilled and effective mentorship for graduate students building custom scientific instruments in the shop.

“Although his obvious focus is the machine shop, he can see the bigger picture,” says Kowalewski. “He knows the crucial role his shop plays in the realization of the teaching and research missions of the department and university, and he has a deep commitment and loyalty to our institution.”


In this story

Keywords: staff, award

People: David Turpin

Related stories