UBC Okanagan issues first Staff Awards of Excellence

Four staff members at UBC Okanagan were honoured on Thursday morning with the university’s inaugural Staff Awards of Excellence.

“We believe in creating a workplace that is dedicated to excellence, equity and mutual respect,” said Doug Owram, Deputy Vice Chancellor. “Recognition programs such as our Staff Awards of Excellence honour the talent and expertise of those who enrich our campus.”

“The UBC Okanagan Staff Awards of Excellence program, which we celebrate for the first time today, recognizes outstanding contributions that have been instrumental in helping UBC Okanagan achieve its goals,” said Alaa Abd-El-Aziz, Provost at UBC Okanagan.

The awards were made in categories of customer service, leadership, sustainability and community engagement, and have been designed to reflect the objectives of UBC’s TREK 2010 plan, UBC Okanagan’s Academic Plan and UBC’s Focus on People plan.

The recipients for 2008 are:

Community Engagement -- Cindy Bourne.
Cindy Bourne is the Coordinator, Learning Resources, in the Student Development and Advising department. In addition to her involvement on various community boards and committees, Bourne was instrumental in helping student Vida Yakong, UBC Okanagan’s first Master of Science in Nursing graduate, create UBC Okanagan’s Project GROW (Ghana Rural Opportunities for Women). This initiative has raised nearly $10,000 to help women and their families generate income-earning opportunities to foster economic independence.

“The impact of Cindy’s initiative on the lives of these women and families is immense,” said Yakong. “It reinforces the already existing good relationship and partnership for development between UBC Okanagan and the University for Development Studies in Northern Ghana.”

Leadership -- Don Thompson
As Director, IT Services, Don Thompson was nominated for his success in building a new information technology vision, strategic programs and high-functioning team from the ground up to support UBC Okanagan’s aggressive growth and expansion.

Continually cited as a key leader in the campus transition from Okanagan University College to UBC Okanagan, Thompson brought about changes that one of his staff members said were “dramatic and marked the first time in my career I saw the difference a true leader can make.”

During the transition Thompson played a leadership role in over 50 large-scale projects, “and did so in ways that were innovative, forward-thinking and most appropriate to a campus of this size,” noted Gwen Zilm, Associate Vice President, Learning Services.

Customer Service -- Aaron Heck
An Instructional Computing Coordinator with the IT Services department, Aaron Heck was cited as exemplifying the criteria for great customer service, having consistently gone over and above the call of duty to anticipate needs and deliver innovative solutions to his customers.

Nominator Patricia Lasserre, Associate Professor of Computer Science, recounted one such experience, as she requested help in simulating a DOS attack for her students.

“He made the student’s experience fantastic,” she said. And when there were issues with the attacks, she received several e-mails, one sent at 2 a.m. from Heck’s cell phone, telling her the issues were resolved. “His attention to my needs and the speed at which he responded were way beyond my expectation,” she said.

Heinz Bauschke, Associate Professor of Mathematics, said Heck’s “well-developed thinking outside the box is rare and so important to making UBC Okanagan a great place to work.”

Customer Service -- Jan Paseska
Jan Paseska, Secretary with the Psychology and Computer Science department, was recognized by faculty, students and peers for consistently going above and beyond the demands of the job to create a truly student-centered approach in her dealings with both undergraduate and graduate students.

“What distinguishes Jan is her commitment to students past, present and future,” said graduate student Ava Agar. “As psychology union president, I depended on Jan on a near-daily basis.

“I credit much of the success of our course union that year to Jan’s enthusiastic willingness to sell event tickets, disseminate information to the psychology student populace, remind forgetful students and professors alike, and help coordinate student professor events.”

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