Winners of the 2021-2022 Principal’s Awards of Excellence for Staff

 

Principal’s Staff Awards

Principal’s Staff Award, the Karen Thiffault Award for Enhancing the UTM Experience

Principal’s Staff Award for Community Engagement

Principal’s Staff Award for Advancing Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

 

Feihong NanFeihong Nana

With her efforts described as “critical to UTM” by her nominators, Feihong Nan,  Assistant Director, Divisional Research, Analysis, and Assessment in the Office of the Vice-Principal Academic and Dean has received the UTM Principal’s Staff Award’s Karen Thiffault Award for Enhancing the UTM Experience.

“Feihong listens, actively engages, and looks for opportunities to provide the best solution and/or resource, customized to the specific requester,” says one nominator.

Nan uses Higher Education Data Analytics to ensure key UTM initiatives - such as enabling excellence in student and faculty research and developing inclusive communities and sustainable spaces - are supported by evidence-based data.

Among her many assignments, she led the Centralized Graduate Database and Timetable project, created critical data visualizations for the Vice-Dean, Faculty and 19 department chairs and directors, implemented a data request management system, supported budget planning and operations and provided tuition analysis for deregulated-fee programs, as well as data analysis for the Student Engagement Centre and for Student Housing & Residence Life.

In addition, Nan represents UTM at the Institutional Data Hub, which fosters a campus-wide culture of data-informed decision making and improvement.

A key member of the tri-campus Analytics Working Group, Nan was also identified by the Dean to represent UTM on both the Functional User Group and the Subject Matter Experts Committee.

In addition, Nan provides Strategic Enrolment Management Report & Admission Analysis for the Office of the Registrar for topics such as student retention, cumulative graduation rates, program statistics and new intake statistics.

“Her efforts will help us to admit a competitive and diverse student cohort,” says one supporter.

Praised for her “great attitude and the idea of teamwork front-and-centre,” Nan has been invited to share UTM best practices at multiple committees to raise the awareness of how data, if communicated well, can support both short-term and strategic planning processes for academic and non-academic units.

“Nan is very clear and organized in her training approach and has such a positive and encouraging attitude that makes her such a pleasure to work with and learn from,” says a supporter.

The Karen Thiffault Award for Enhancing the UTM Experience is given to those who provide a high quality of service to their clients, create innovative opportunities, anticipate needs and potential problems, improve the value, efficiency and sustainability of the services they provide and/or serve as a role model through positive interactions.

 

José Chacón

Jose Chacon

Praised by colleagues as a person who “exemplifies what it means to be a hard worker and wonderful human being," José Chacón, Business and Operations Coordinator at the Career Centre, is the 2022 winner of the UTM Principal’s Staff Award’s Karen Thiffault Award for Enhancing the UTM Experience.

“He has always volunteered to be our tech support, welcoming committee, coffee/lunch mate, handyman, and much more,” says one supporter. “José continues to support our department members whenever and however they need.”

During COVID-19 shutdowns, he volunteered to be on campus to help make sure new staff felt welcome and were “set up to succeed” with equipment, HR information and a tour.

“He melted any nerves I had to coming on to campus in the midst of a pandemic,” says one new team member.  

Chacón, whom colleagues jokingly refer to as ‘The Calm One,’ also prepared the office for the return to in-person services, creating a safe environment for front-line staff.

“There is truly a countless amount of people who would like to submit or add to this nomination letter,” says one colleague. “This speaks volumes to how much José is appreciated by the UTM community.”

Supporters say Chacón works tirelessly with partners on all three campuses, including the IT help desk, Student Affairs and Services and students who walk into the UTM Career Centre. He also ensures the CLNx system runs flawlessly to provide access to Career Development information, sits on the inaugural Career Centre Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force that provides training for Career Centre Professional Staff, heads the UTM Work Study program and represents UTM on Tri-Campus Work Study.

“Our department wants to show him that his hard work, kindness and unwavering support does not go unnoticed,” says one nominator. “We believe that his leadership and contributions will continue to uplift the staff of the UTM Career Centre and community.”

The Karen Thiffault Award for Enhancing the UTM Experience is given to those who provide a high quality of service to their clients, create innovative opportunities, anticipate needs and potential problems, improve the value, efficiency and sustainability of the services they provide and/or serve as a role model through positive interactions.

 

Ryan CerrudoRyan Cerrudo

Praised by nominators as a “kindhearted and trusted colleague willing to do anything for someone in need” and “the first to step up and volunteer to help,” Ryan Cerrudo of the Institute for Management and Innovation is this year’s recipient of the Community Engagement Award at the 2022 UTM Principal’s Staff Awards.

“Ryan can be found at just about every UTM campus event, taking photos, volunteering or simply showing up to support the cause,” says one of his supporters. “His commitment to highlighting, supporting and promoting all of the amazing events on campus is unsurpassed.”

In addition to promoting events around UTM as the manager of the IMI Twitter account, Cerrudo was also praised for his work with Run for the Cure, the Big Brothers Big Sisters toy drive, Countdown to Success speaker series and United Way fundraisers including the craft fair and Halloween costume contest. He has also donated his hair multiple times for wigs for cancer patients. 

“One of the most admirable traits about Ryan, among many, is his attempt to downplay and avoid any attention, credit or even acknowledgement of his volunteerism,” says one supporter. “Despite his efforts to avoid recognition, he has a very well-known reputation for being kind, caring, reliable and incredibly generous individual.”

In his role as Communications Officer, Cerrudo also fosters relationships with external contacts and alumni, particularly his past work-study students, many of whom he has personally hired and mentored.

“Ryan has an incredible ability to identify uniquely talented students who often go on to pursue fascinating careers,” says one nominator. “These alumni have been welcomed back to campus on numerous occasions and given back to the UTM, a testament to the impact staff, like Ryan, can have on a student’s UTM experience.”

Noting there is “no shortage of compliments we could add about Ryan,” one supporter described Cerrudo as “a stand out employee exemplifying what it means to be a UTM community member.”

The Community Engagement Award is given to those who display commitment to community enhancement at UTM or to another community, exemplify good citizenship through volunteerism or by positioning UTM as a good citizen in the wider world and/or serve as mentors and/or model citizens to students, faculty, staff or community members outside of UTM.

 

 Ignacio MongrellIgnacio Mongrell

Described by nominators as “a fierce advocate for broadening representation at UTM,” Ignacio Mongrell of the Institute for Management and Innovation is this year’s recipient of the UTM Principal’s Staff Award for Advancing Equity, Diversity & Inclusion.

As Assistant Director of the campus innovation accelerator, ICUBE, Mongrell is praised for his “openness, enthusiasm and energy” as he works to expand opportunities for students, alumni and Peel residents with start-up ventures.

 “He cares about making all people feel respected and appreciated for their unique identities,” says one nominator. “He recognizes the value in ensuring they have adequate supports, resources and role models to guide them through the overwhelming process of starting a business.”

Named Chair of the Positive Space Committee at UTM in January 2020, he has created a variety of activities to support 2SLGBTQ+ students, staff, faculty and community members, from raising awareness for tri-campus pride concerts, speaker events and dance parties to suggesting allies decorate offices for Pride and share preferred pronouns in signatures.

“He reminds all of us that we can all take part in supporting positive change,” says one colleague.

Mongrell also organizes the annual Pride Pitch in June, which showcases founders within the 2SLGBTQ+ community.  

Mongrell also champions The Pitch with a Twist competition, held on International Women’s Day in partnership with the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information, and Technology. The event has been a key driver for the presence of women in ICUBE.  

“Through his incredible efforts to secure ongoing funding, we have been able to build initiatives that focus on providing specific resources to Indigenous, 2SLGBTQ+ and female-identifying entrepreneurs,” says one nominator.

Under his leadership, ICUBE has transformed from almost entirely male-led ventures in the technology sector to one inclusive of multiple demographics and multidisciplinary in scope, including more than 60 per cent female-identifying founders.

Mongrell also secured $76,000 in grants to fund a 16-week pilot program which will support Indigenous entrepreneurs by integrating learning modules on finance, digital marketing, sales and other business-related content with Anishinaabe teachings.

“His commitment to the work he establishes in ICUBE is backed by his personal belief in showing solidarity with others who do not always look like him,” says one nominator.

 The Advancing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Award is given to those who show leadership in promoting intercultural understanding and inclusion at UTM by removing barriers to full and active participation in university life and apply an equity lens to projects and initiatives within their area of influence.