Staff and student honoured at Arts & Science Outstanding Achievement Awards
Four staff members from across the Faculty of Arts & Science are this year’s recipients of Outstanding Staff Awards. Established in 1999, the awards recognize employees who have achieved excellence in support of the Faculty’s mission of teaching and research. Five faculty members and the Dean’s Student Leadership Award recipient, Shawn Tian, were also honoured at the award ceremony on April 24th.
This year’s recipients are:
Carolynn Branton — Political Science, Student Life Award
Carolynn Branton, who has been the Department of Political Science’s graduate coordinator since 2009, is aware of the particular and unique experiences of each graduate student — and there are many of them. Political science has more than 200 students in the program and Carolynn knows each and every one of them.
With an open door and a warm and welcoming demeanor, she’s always willing to rapidly address any problem that might arise in the course of a student’s course of study. But behind her sometimes mild-mannered exterior is someone with the sheer determination to get things done.
Steven Bernstein, associate chair and graduate director has noticed. “No matter what size the issue, Carolynn takes action. When a concern comes to her attention, I know that within a couple of hours, she’ll have contacted all the key people at the university and will know just what to do to address the issue.”
John Hancock — Computer Science, Technical Service Award
In 2003, the Dynamic Graphics Project (DGP) lab was looking for someone with the technical smarts to administer an interdisciplinary research laboratory and assist in acquiring and maintaining highly advanced computer graphics devices. They found just what they were looking for in John Hancock.
Hancock recently managed a multi-million dollar renovation of the lab and created a new satellite facility at UTM — both of these feats were accomplished without disruption to any research project.
However, it is Hancock’s “people skills” that sets him apart. As lab manager and systems administrator, his position can be “invisible” when everything is going smoothly, but takes centre stage when some piece of technology fails and users are all clamoring for a solution. He takes such challenges in stride with good humour and a calm and efficient ability to get the job done.
Natalia Krencil —Anthropology, Distinguished Service Award
In order to earn the Distinguished Service Award, one must demonstrate a sustained track record of going above and beyond the expectations of administrative peers, academic colleagues and students. Natalia Krencil has done just that for 25 years in the anthropology graduate office.
She is known for her immense patience in dealing with the numerous questions — both large and small — that cross her desk daily, as well as her caring and thoughtful manner.
In the words of anthropology’s graduate coordinator Gary Coupland: “My job would be far more demanding without Natalia as graduate administrator. She has been doing the job — and doing it wonderfully well — for many years. She has the experience and accumulated knowledge to keep things running efficiently.” Another colleague noted her strong determination and keen ability to always find the most proactive solution to a problem.
Beverly Lewis — Faculty Registrar’s Office, Administrative Service Award
Beverly Lewis runs an extensive operation that, by definition, is high pressure and charged with potential disaster at every turn. Which is to say that she runs the Faculty of Arts & Science’s exams, three times a year, for the entire undergraduate population in Arts & Science. That translates into about 185,000 sittings.
She has done so in exemplary fashion, always with smile and with what some describe as a Zen-like state of equanimity.
Emergencies arise, students get sick, fire alarms get pulled, instructors are late with their exams, people get caught cheating, instructors even sometimes behave badly — all while other exams are going on in myriad locations. And through it all, Lewis sits in her command centre and handles it with her outstanding professionalism and ceaseless good humour.
Shawn Tian — Dean’s Student Leadership Award
A fourth-year student studying psychology and economics, Shawn Tian joined the Arts & Science Students’ Union in 2010 and is currently the outgoing president.
He’s spearheaded initiatives to establish a number of ASSU student awards and bursaries such as the ASSU Graduating Student Leadership Award, and was instrumental in creating the Undergraduate Research Fund — a partnership between ASSU and the Faculty which provide students with the opportunity to undertake a research project outside the classroom.
Tian was also an active player in the launch of “Exam Jam,” which is now a regular and very popular stress-busting event held during exams.
He also generously participates in a variety of committees and stakeholder groups in the Faculty, always providing an important and useful perspective.