Winners of the 2019-2020 Principal’s Awards of Excellence for Staff
Principal’s Service Award for Excellence
Principal’s Staff Awards
Principal’s Staff Award for Advancing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
Principal’s Staff Award for Community Engagement
Principal’s Staff Award for Creativity and Innovation
Principal’s Staff Award for Emerging Leadership
Principal’s Staff Award, the Karen Thiffault Award for Enhancing the UTM Experience
- Department of Biology staff (team)
- Connections and Conversations Mentorship/Career sub-committee (team)
- Matthew Malcolm
Principal’s Staff Award for Leadership
In his letter supporting the nomination of Carla DeMarco for the Principal’s Service Award for Excellence, Ryan Cerrudo, Communications Officer, Institute for Management and Innovation (IMI), calls her a “True Blue gem.”
Nominator Andrea Olive, chair of the Political Science department, agrees.
“Each weekend she is posting pictures of the campus trails and many weeknights she snaps and shares a sunset on campus as she walks home,” said Olive. “Even while we have been on COVID-19 orders to work from home, Carla has been tweeting out research profiles of faculty members intermixed with photos of our beautiful campus.”
Cerrudo praises DeMarco’s infectious enthusiasm. “Carla doesn’t just work. She sings. Well, not literally — although when she does, she makes people smile — but if there was a song about UTM’s campus spirit, Carla would have her own solo,” said Wilson. “It’s obvious to anyone who knows her that Carla breathes life into the campus. She makes others want to get engaged.”
DeMarco, who joined UTM in 2006 and holds a BA in Drama and English Literature, is the Communications and Research Grant Manager in the Office of the Vice-Principal, Research, and, notes another colleague, an excellent source of information.
“I never fail to be astounded by the amount of current and historic knowledge Carla has stored in her memory, and her astonishing ability to recall it,” says Maeve Doyle, Graduate Program Coordinator of the Biomedical Communications program. “One of the most pleasurable reasons to work with Carla is her contagiously cheery nature that creates a collegial, supportive environment, and which is especially valuable during high-pressure times.”
In addition to her job responsibilities of reviewing grant proposal applications, finding potential funding opportunities for faculty, producing the internal SURGE newsletter and teaching students about ethics and integrity in research, DeMarco also found time to be the founder of the UTMost Book Club, co-chair of ‘Take Our Children to Work Day,’ the Staff Experience Team of ‘Run for the Cure’ and organizer of the fundraising United Way art/craft auction.
As part of her efforts to promote the work being done on campus, DeMarco also hosts a monthly external podcast — “View to the U” —which features faculty members, from across all disciplines, talking about their research, writing and general views on the world, showcasing UTM’s wide range of world-class researchers. Season 2 was centred on ‘Women in Academia’ and put the spotlight on 15 different UTM female faculty.
In fact, many of Carla’s colleagues lined up to support the nomination, including professors Ron Buliung and Tenley Conway, assistant professors Vincent Kuuire, Yuhong He and Laurel Besco, Office of the Registrar Student Recruitment Events and Outreach Manager Tara Fader, Recreation, Athletics and Wellness fitness program assistant Nikki Robichaud, former Institute for Management and Innovation Graduate Programs and External Relations Director Donna Heslin, the Research Office’s Internal Competitions and Events Coordinator Rong Wu and Director of Research Devin Kreuger, who gave her a ringing personal endorsement.
“I consider recruiting Carla to UTM as one of my greatest successes,” said Kreuger.
After more than 40 years of working for the University of Toronto in a variety of positions, Lucy Gaspini is no stranger to accomplishment. Lucy has been recognized previously: she received the 1999-2000 Erindale College Staff Service Excellence Award and a 2008-2009 U of T Stepping Up Award.
In putting forth Gaspini for the Principal’s Service Award for Excellence this year, nominators Lisa Devereaux and Rena Banwait praised Gaspini’s four-decade track record as “truly exceptional service in advancing our University’s mission.”
Today, Gaspini is the Director of Academic Success and Integrity, where she oversees the Academic Integrity Unit (AIU) and Experiential Education Unit (EEU). Devereaux says Gaspini was instrumental in the recent roll out of a new database, which enables the AIU to track academic offences, analyze trends and formulate effective best practices.
Described by Academic Experience Vice-Dean Michael Lettieri, who supported the nomination, as “guardian and interpreter of the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters,” Gaspini’s duties also including helping interpret the meaning, significance and implications of the Code.
Her portfolio has now expanded to include Experiential Learning, in which she encourages employers to pair with UTM students who have relevant, world-ready attributes that translate directly into the workforce.
“Lucy is a consummate and successful leader, and a constant well of fresh ideas,” says Lettieri.
Gaspini’s extensive list of accomplishments includes championing ICCIT’s upcoming Professional Experience Certificate in Digital Media, Communications and Technology; planning and development of two successful Experiential Education Fairs; the EEU Student Ambassador Program and the Lecture Me! series, hosted in collaboration with the Mississauga Central Library.
She was also responsible for the coordination of a tri-campus Work-Integrated Learning Symposium, allocation of numerous EL monetary and in-kind bursaries to students and collaboration with the Riverwood Conservancy in the planning of Indigenous Spirit Journey events and other undertakings. Under her leadership, the EEU also successfully secured significant funding through the Provost's Experiential Learning University Fund.
In addition, Gaspini is the senior editor of Experiential Learning Matters: A Handbook for Faculty and Staff.
Given her extensive impact at UTM, it’s not surprising that her nomination was supported by an extensive list of co-workers, including experiential learning officers Stephanie Vega, Kayla Sousa and Atiya Hamid, research analyst Adriano Pasquali, Academic Appeals and Integrity Coordinator Tali Ajimal, academic integrity assistants Jade Hazell and Rachel Gorjup, Strategic Initiatives Director Ciaran Graham, professors Charles Elkabas, Catherine Seguin, Shay Fuchs, Michael Georges, Andreas Bendlin, Tracey Bowen and Michael deBraga, UTMSU Campaigns and Advocacy Coordinator Jihan Khatib, EEU student ambassadors Ahmed Aldarraji and Haania Zafar, work study student Amana Choudry and intern Annie Sun.
It’s not easy to have difficult conversations, and it’s even harder to be the people who start them.
The Connections and Conversations (C&C) affinity group works to provide a community of support for staff who self-identify as Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC), and to open discussions on important issues concerning equity and diversity on campus and in the broader world.
For their efforts, the UTM Chapter’s executive committee — Shabina Moheebulla, Jermaine Ingram, Martin Kengo, Martina Douglas, Natasha Walli, Rachel Kulick, Ramya Uthayakumar, Rebeca Mahadeo, Azeem Yazdani, Sidrah Rizwan, and Stephanie Santos — have won a Principal’s Staff Award for Advancing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
The team was nominated by Heather Hines, director of Undergraduate Programs and Student Services, Department of Management.
“They have truly embraced the broadest range of people and encouraged the free expression of diverse perspectives,” says Hines. “Their work has raised the level of conversation about equity and diversity and improved our actions when it comes to inclusive practices. UTM is a stronger campus because of their work.”
C&C held a speed mentorship event in May 2019, launched a LinkedIn Group and recently hosted Zoom webinars with Tee Duke from the Indigenous Centre at UTM, an anti-Black racism talk with Dr. Christopher Taylor and a session with Shakil Choudry on unconscious bias. They also organized the popular summer event, A Little Touch of the Caribbean.
Hines points to a Starting the Conversations session with UTM alumna Samra Zafar as a perfect example of C&C’s efforts to open discussions on diversity.
“Samra shared her experiences as a student at UTM living while in an abusive relationship. It was a deeply personal talk where she interwove her faith, cultural expectations and pressures and eventual role as a mother into a compelling narrative that resonated with the crowd,” says Hines. “The event became a space where others felt free to share their struggles and gain the support of those around them. It was about respect and acknowledging that you really don’t know what others are experiencing but that compassion and inclusion is always a good place to start.”
The nomination was supported by letters from Soo Min Toh, Director of IMI, and Devin Kreuger, Director of the Office of the Vice-Principal Research. C&C executives are volunteers, Kreuger notes, dedicating their personal time and energy on behalf of UTM’s BIPOC community.
“What’s especially terrific about the C&C leadership is that they have seen a need, and they have stepped up on their own initiative in order to make change happen,” says Kreuger. “That’s authentic leadership worthy of the Principal’s Staff Award.”
In nominating Alysha Ferguson for the Principal’s Staff Award for Community Engagement, colleagues were quick to praise her work in raising the University of Toronto Mississauga’s profile across Canada.
“Alysha is dedicated not only to her role at UTM, but also in finding meaningful connections with her communities both local and national,” says nominator Jessica Silver, director of UTM Student Engagement. “Alysha’s commitment to being involved in community opportunities outside of her work have positioned UTM as a leader at many tables.”
Ferguson has been the manager of Community Engaged Learning within the Centre for Student Engagement (CSE) for the past two years, helping students develop skills by engaging with community groups.
In her time with the CSE, she has created the Student Affairs and Services Spirit Crew within Student Affairs and Services (SAS), which aims to bring her department colleagues together to have fun, learn from one another and build a community.
Ferguson, who has a Master of Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies and English from Wilfrid Laurier University, is also the driving force behind such initiatives as Catch-up and Cocktails, an informal sharing of recent work, research and celebrations in SAS and Coffee Connections, an opportunity for SAS co-workers to get partnered with someone they do not regularly work with to learn more about their work and each other, which has resulted in new collaborations.
Ferguson’s nomination was backed by letters of support by Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS) Executive Director Jennifer Hamilton and UTM Dean of Student Affairs and Assistant Principal Mark Overton.
“Her contributions to UTM, the Mississauga community and her professional communities exist beyond her job title,” says Silver. “Alysha is passionate about giving back and developing long-lasting reciprocal relationships in her community and beyond.”
Ferguson’s experience in Students Affairs also includes time as a Residence Life Manager/Co-ordinator at both the University of British Columbia and Wilfrid Laurier University.
Hamilton also praised Ferguson’s work with the Community of Practice within CACUSS.
“As co-chair, Alysha helped breathe new life into a somewhat struggling and inactive community by making connections, facilitating conversations and engaging colleagues,” Hamilton says.
Ferguson’s volunteer record also includes work with the Mississauga Youth Advisory Committee and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel. A certified life coach, she has also recently started training to volunteer with Kids Help Phone.
For Linnet Kocheril, community engagement isn’t just an award to win, it’s a way of life.
“Linnet has personal qualities that make him a UTM staff role model. He is known within the Institute for Management and Innovation (IMI) as one of the most helpful and skilled employees we have,” says IMI Program and Career Development Manager Natasha Walli, who wrote a letter of support for his nomination for the Principal’s Staff Award for Community Engagement. ”Linnet always does it with a smile and the most positive energy and for this reason, Linnet has my highest recommendation to be the inaugural recipient for this award.”
As Professional Development & Career Strategist, Kocheril helped lead professional development activities for racialized staff across UTM, including ‘Real Leaders, Real Impact’ breakout rooms where students joined roundtable conversations with senior leaders from around the world. He also worked with the Student Housing and Residence Life’s (SHRL) residence visit program which pairs staff from various departments with first-year students to help build community and foster connections between students and staff.
Kocheril’s long list of UTM involvement also includes being a staff member to Campus Affairs Committee, alumni representative on the Athletic Governing Council, member-at-large of Connections and Conversations and team member for the United Way Region of Peel fundraising drive, organizing a UTM Dodgeball tournament for faculty, staff and students.
He also independently organized various recreation and sports events for staff across UTM to encourage wellness, community building and social interactions, including summer beach volleyball pick-up games.
“Linnet doesn’t just dream of doing things or wait for others to act,” says nominator Heather Hines, director of Undergraduate Programs and Student Services. “If he sees a way that he can lend a helping hand, he never hesitates.”
For the past five years, Kocheril has also volunteered at the Experience Your Life Expo in Mississauga. The event connects young people with work, travel, study and volunteer opportunities from a range of organizations including St. John Ambulance, Canadian Blood Services, Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, Engineers Without Borders and Innovation Canada. Kocheril has made a particular point of advocating for UTM business students to attend the Expo free of cost.
“He simply does not want anything for himself during these volunteer engagements and grounds himself in purpose,” says Experience Your Life CEO Sultan Akif. “This work has led to hundreds of undergraduate Commerce and Management students to get access to life-changing role models, opportunities and employment.”
Linnet’s volunteer work also took him to Nepal as a part of Akif’s Library in a Week project, helping to fundraise $2,500 and build libraries in communities where books were hard to come by. Upon returning, Linnet held a lunch and learn session for his peers so they could learn about his trip and the project.
“I work with thousands of youths across the world and have hired over 500 people in my career as a Director at Microsoft and a social entrepreneur,” says Akif, who founded Library in a Week. “Linnet stands out, even in a crowd of incredible humans.”
In putting forth Geographic IT Specialist Yu-Kai (Bruce) Huang for the Principal’s Staff Award for Creativity and Innovation, his nominator suggests he is not only worth praising, but maybe also cloning.
“I have actually heard other units say, ‘We need a Bruce,’” says Ivana Pribramska, department manager for Geography, Geomatics and Environment.
Other supporters point to his agility during the challenges of the COVID pandemic.
“Bruce has spearheaded the development of on-line learning platforms to facilitate student's ability to work anywhere, anytime, using high-end software and real-world data,” says Ron Buliung, the tri-campus graduate chair. “This work is particularly salient in this moment, where we have had to move much of our instruction on-line. Due to Bruce’s ingenuity, the department is ahead of the curve.”
Huang’s nomination was also supported by professors Jue Wang, Trevor Porter and Don Boyes, UTM Library Technologies and Liaison Librarian Mike Serafi, Financial and Administrative Coordinator, CPS, UTM Jessica Bailey, Post Doctorate Fellow Dr. Egide Kalisa of Geography, Geomatics and Environment, Research Office Internal Competitions and Events Coordinator Rong Wu and Manager of Finance, Administration and Operations Tim Duanmu as well as several graduate students including Minal Waqar and Léa Ravensbergen.
Huang, who joined the department in October 2012, developed and implemented video conferencing infrastructure to alleviate challenges in tri-campus teaching and meeting connectivity. The system received many compliments, not only from Geography but also from other units.
Huang has also been working on a web-based geospatial learning platform that allows geography students to remotely connect to a virtual computer lab and access assignments from any location, according to their own schedules. Since its inception, the platform has supported more than 5,000 students and colleagues, including those from other departments, such as Political Science, Chemical and Physical Science and Sociology.
A peer-reviewed paper co-authored by Huang found a significant increase in lab grades of those students who used the platform, which is also being used as a demonstration and recruitment tool at on- and off-campus events, conferences and workshops.
Among his other projects, he developed a cloud-based system to support more than 50 courses and 5,000 students; a website featuring graduate programs, funding and grant opportunities as well as biographies of current graduate students and faculty; a research project website that provides descriptions of lab activities and special projects in the department; a weather station server that provides climate data to the physical geography and environment courses; a special events website to promote department outreach activities, faculty-organized symposia and special events to the wider university community e.g., the Arctic Symposium for UTM 50 Celebration; and a web-interface inventory system to help efficiently manage equipment and track equipment used in experiential learning activities.
Colleagues Tenley Conway, Yuhong He, Joseph Leydon and Kathi Wilson sent a joint letter of support with his nomination, praising both his creativity and personability.
“While no one could have predicted the current chaotic and complex circumstances we are facing, Bruce’s vision to develop a suite of teaching, research and service-related online systems enabled the department to make a rapid and smooth transition to on-line delivery in light of COVID-19,” they wrote. “Beyond this, Bruce is a wonderful colleague and a valued member of the department. His gentle disposition and his positive attitude encourage others not to be stymied by problems but to seek solutions."
As she works to support UTM’s leaders of tomorrow, Amanda Luongo has proven herself to be one today.
To recognize her efforts as Community Development Coordinator in Student Housing and Residence Life (SHRL), Luongo has been awarded this year’s Principal’s Staff Award for Emerging Leadership.
She was nominated by Chad Nuttall, with supporting letters from Brian Cunha, the Assistant Dean, Residence Life and Communication at Graduate House at UTSG and the President-Elect and Finance Director of the Ontario Association of College and University Housing Officers (OACUHO); and Jessica Nayda, UTM’s Assistant Director of Residence Life.
A former residence student herself, Luongo joined the UTM staff in 2015 as the Assistant Director, Residence Life, covering a maternity leave.
“Students often comment on Amanda’s ability to make them feel heard, valued and capable,” said Nayda. “Her approach to supporting students through crisis, and in general, has been directly related to increased student retention in residence and onwards.”
Luongo is the chair of both the department’s hiring and training and development committees, and also co-hosted a virtual workshop through OACUHO on Training, Move In, and Orientation during COVID.
A UTM alumna herself, having earned an Honours Bachelor of Arts, she has since also completed her Bachelor of Education at Queen’s University and Master of Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. In addition to her work with SHRL, she is also a certified teacher and occasionally teaches in the Dufferin-Peel Catholic board.
“Amanda is extraordinary,” said Nuttall. “She is gifted with people and builds very trusting and unique relationships with students and staff. She plays a central role in so many of our student’s positive experiences in residence.”
Recently, Luongo, in collaboration with some of her peers, planned and executed a virtual conference that allowed student housing professionals from across the province to connect about their approach to managing the COVID-19 crisis on their respective campuses.
Her commitment goes well beyond her official job description, said Nuttall, especially while acting as the after-hours on-call coordinator.
“Amanda has helped people decide to take a risk, stay in Canada after graduation, apply to graduate school or apply for a job that scares them,” said Nuttall. She has high expectations of herself and others. Always pushing and inspiring others – myself included. She is a coach, a mentor and a friend. I can’t think of anyone more positive, energetic, caring or supportive.”
Moving learning online is easier said than done when you are dealing with live specimens.
When the COVID-19 pandemic closed the campus to most of the UTM community, the Biology department faced the extra challenge of caring for the plants, cultures and animals involved in their studies.
Finding solutions fell to several staff members: Cindy Short, Diane Matias, Mariana Ostache, Stephanie do Rego and Susan Dixon, and for their efforts, they have received a Principal’s Staff Award—the Karen Thiffault Award for Enhancing the UTM Experience.
“Under unprecedented circumstances, working in an environment characterized by profound and rapid changes, this team has responded brilliantly excelling in their work above the job descriptions providing outstanding customer service to faculty, students, senior administrators, often employing novel ideas and work methods that increased efficiency and anticipated needs,” says nominator Mihai Baetu, manager of Finance and Operations, UTM Biology.
Baetu said Dixon, Senior Teaching Lab Technician, was critical in making the necessary changes to teaching laboratories activities and practicums during the pandemic, including the need to shut down labs in a rapid fashion in the early days, while still allowing care for the live elements.
“Leading by example, Dixon opted to be an essential worker and came to campus when needed and arranged for PPE donations to be directed to the hospitals,” Baetu says. “She also worked with space management to redesign the laboratory space and practicum activities to comply with the new physical distancing standards.”
Course Coordinator Short helped adapt biology practicums, in particular those for cell and molecular biology courses, so they could be delivered without the need for in-person participation.
“Thanks to Cindy, there were no courses cancelled during the Summer or Fall academic terms,” says Baetu.
Undergraduate Student Advisor Matias worked with the Dean’s Office team to assess, evaluate and implement changes to course timetables, finding new ways of conducting term, final and deferred exams.
“Diane makes a great difference when it comes to enhancing the student experience and their life at the university, especially in this time of great change and challenges,” says Baetu.
Do Rego, the Administrative Assistant to the Chair, was quick to make the most of technology including SharePoint, Zoom, MS Teams, Google, Doodle, to make working from home easier for the academic administrators.
“Her contributions during these challenging times exceeded all expectations,” says Baetu. “She is not only responsive but also incredibly proactive, and maintains a high level of professionalism, constantly exceeding her job parameters.”
Administrative Assistant Ostache redesigned the biology website and turned up social media coverage, collaborating with the Office of Communications. She also converted all community events from an in-person format to an on-line approach, from prominent international conferences such as IALE 2020, to the weekly department seminar series.
“Mariana found novel ways to showcase our Biology faculty, staff, students, alumni, and volunteers, combining clear, compelling and innovative communication tools,” says Baetu.
In his letter supporting the team’s nomination, Department of Biology Chair Joel Levine says they were instrumental in transforming the laboratory space and activities to comply with the physical distancing measures, adapting cell and molecular practicums to online delivery and implementing the Labster virtual laboratory program at a tri-campus level.
“I had the privilege to work with this team for more than three years, and they have been providing outstanding administrative support to our faculty, students and academic administrators alike,” says Levine. “However, it was during this special year when this team rose to the new challenges brilliantly, responding in innovative ways with great dedication, expertise and professionalism. They excelled in their work over and above their job description, and maintained a consistently high quality of service to their clients.”
The nomination was also supported by Landscape Ecology Professor Helene Wagner and Marc Dryer, an associate professor in the teaching stream of Biomedical Communications/Biology.
“We rely on their ability, experience, and judgment, and it is this level of respect and reliability that allows faculty to work and teach with confidence,” says Dryer. “We know that we will be supported, and rather than simply service, we know that this team will provide solutions and creative innovation to promote teaching and learning in our classrooms and in our labs.”
Establishing a career can mean dealing with issues beyond having the right education or experience.
The Connections and Conversations Mentorship/Career subcommittee has been working hard to aid UTM staff members facing extra challenges, and their efforts have earned them a Principal’s Staff Award, the Karen Thiffault Award for Enhancing the UTM Experience.
The group includes Devin Kreuger, Ferzeen Sammy, Ramya Uthayakumar, and Vanisa Dimitrova.
The group was nominated by Felicity Morgan, director of the UTM Career Centre.
The Connections and Conversations Mentorship/Career subcommittee works to provide a community of support for staff who self-identify as Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC), and to open discussions on important issues concerning equity and diversity on campus and in the broader world within a mentoring/career framework.
“These initiatives are important, as they align with the University’s commitment to equity and diversity, assist staff who may or may not have access to the broader leadership network at UTM and provide a safe opportunity to have potentially challenging conversations,” says Morgan.
In 2019, the committee held a very successful speed-mentoring event with nine mentors and 30 mentees from a number of departments across campus. This enabled mentees to interact with campus members they may not typically meet in the course of their jobs.
“An unexpected outcome was that relationships were formed between participants at the event that continued afterwards,” says Morgan. “Clearly this event filled a need in the UTM community.”
Morgan noted that the group’s work is done mainly outside of their regular duties, making it all the more commendable and demonstrating the dedication this group has to providing this experience to participants.
“Their outreach was not limited to only full-time staff but also to casual staff, faculty, students and alumni,” says UTM Chief Administrative Office Saher Fazilat. “This created an uncharted path recognizing the need for staff mentorship activities at UTM that promote equity and diversity.”
The nomination was also supported by Program and Career Development Manager, GLDP, Institute for Management and Innovation (IMI) Natasha Walli and Miquel Faig, chair of the UTM Department of Economics.
UTM boasts 15,000 students and 3,700 employees, all of whom rely on deliveries to keep their work on track.
And if you need something, the person to know is Matthew Malcolm, Stores Supervisor with Facilities, Management and Planning.
For his efforts, Malcolm is the winner of a Principal’s Staff Award, the Karen Thiffault Award for Enhancing the UTM Experience.
“Matthew has excelled in maintaining a high level of product knowledge and an understanding of the little things that make a great support system,” says nominator Peter Duggan, supervisor of Academic Machine Shop. “The Stores has remained open during this pandemic and Matthew has been here the whole time. This display of commitment is a testament to his quality of character. He has brought improved quality to the stores department which will ensure a long and green sustainable future.”
Malcolm is part of the Shipping, Receiving & Stores team, which handles services such as disposal of waste chemicals from teaching and research laboratories, ensuring that goods are delivered to the correct department and are received in good condition. They also store reagents, chemicals and solvents for laboratories, glassware for laboratories and gases that are commonly used in laboratories.
When many members of the campus switched to working from home, Malcolm remained on site to ensure all of the individual and departmental packages arrived and had a place to be stored while UTM dealt with the pandemic.
“Thanks to Matthew, the laboratories were able to continue to receive the supplies they need to do their research,” says Duggan. “He has been there to help with the delivery of necessary goods for the continuing of the Capital projects and has aided in the organization of PPE for various groups on campus.
Chair of Biology Joel Levine says Malcolm has been known to delay his personal vacation time to be on campus during class breaks, so graduate students can get what they need to work on their research during quiet time on campus.
“He goes out of his way to help, and has an amazing ability to anticipate people’s needs,” Levine said. “He’s that kind of quiet leadership we could use more of, but he’s so quiet, you could take him for granted. He’s not about ‘look what I can do!’ He just says ‘I’ll handle it,’ and he does. He just gets it done. That’s Matt.”
As a mentor, Heather Hines, director of Undergraduate Programs and Student Services, Department of Management, has helped a number of her colleagues earn department promotions or step into leadership roles outside of the university.
So it’s probably no surprise that Hines herself has won a Principal’s Staff Award for Leadership.
“Heather’s reputation as a leader goes far beyond UTM and a staff position at the Department of Management under Heather’s leadership is highly sought after,” says Eckhard Schumann, associate professor and director, Undergraduate Programs, Department of Management – Institute for Management and Innovation. “She is equally loved by the janitorial staff who cannot wait to see her in the evenings to the senior university administrators who respect her dedication to the university.”
Hines was nominated by Mihkel Tombak, chair of the Department of Management. Hines, who has been with the department since 2007, has degrees in history and education as well as a Masters in Educational Administration from McGill University.
She created UTM’s Professional Development Learning Centre (PDLC), a space where students, employers, alumni and community partners collaborate to help students develop and find meaningful employment.
Hines also developed the extracurricular Professional Skills Development Program (PSDP) to better prepare UTM students for the job market, with modules on resume writing, interviewing skills and much more. In addition, she is active in recruiting students to the campus through information events and high school visits. This past year she helped both students and instructors deal with course organization, instruction and examinations during the pandemic.
“Watching Heather in action, one can only be inspired to go the extra mile, because that is what she always does,” says Schumann.
Hines has also been a Steering Committee member for Connections and Conversations, an affinity group for racialized staff. She was also an enthusiastic nominator of two of her fellow Principal’s Staff Award winners this year, Linnet Kocheril and the Connections and Conversations executive committee.