Carmen Bryson

Carmen BrysonThe Research and Graduate Office has an award winner in its midst, and the accolade has nothing to do with SSHRC or NSERC grants, or biosensor-related research. The office’s Financial & Administrative Officer extraordinaire, Carmen Bryson, is the latest recipient of the U of T Mississauga Staff Service Award.

“I was truly surprised and at a loss for words,” says Carmen, when speaking of the moment she was informed she won the award in June. “I’m just doing my job, and I enjoy what I’m doing, so I never expected this.” Carmen says the aspects of her job she likes best are working with the variety of people she encounters on a daily basis, and the fact that the campus has such a community feel. “I love the fact that you’re interacting with everyone – staff, faculty and students,” says Carmen. “You’re not dealing with people as just numbers; you can actually put a face to the student, or a face to the faculty member.”

In her usual humble way, Carmen tries to deflect some of the honour by saying she works within “a fantastic team,” but the award is all hers. During Carmen’s time at U of TM, she has amassed a broad and impressive list of people from across all the departments on campus, extending to the St. George campus and beyond, who were willing and eager to support her nomination for the Staff Service Award.

The letters of support for the award specified her helpfulness, pleasant and calm demeanor and her dedication as the qualities that best define her work ethic. These characteristics were all demonstrated to their full extent this past spring when Carmen was sidelined with an injury. While attending the on-campus Judo class she regularly participates in, she broke her ankle and required surgery.

Despite the physical setback, Carmen was in the office collecting work to take home, and was still dealing with campus-related affairs through phone calls and e-mails while she was recovering over the course of two months. When asked if she will attempt Judo again, Carmen is pragmatic: “I’m not committing one way or the other. It’s easy to say, ‘I’m never going back again’ when I’m in the pain of moment, but once I get better and see how I recover, you never know,” she says. “I hope to be able to get back to the level that I was, and that’s my goal for now. I’ll decide from there what exercises and sports I want to continue doing. I’ll probably go back to Judo – but first as a spectator,” Carmen says with a laugh.    

When Carmen initially came to Erindale in 1985, she worked in Business Services as an Accounting Assistant. Her responsibilities included handling the cash flow for the university, as well as providing financial support to the researchers for their accounts and grants. She handled her workload with patience and skill, while simultaneously maintaining a busy household with her husband Larry, and raising their two daughters, Kailey and Lori.

When the Research & Graduate Office was established in 2003, Carmen took on the position of Administrative Assistant for the department, and was promoted to her current appointment last year. Having started out on a campus that consisted of just three main buildings and two portables, Carmen marvels at the growth of the campus over the past few years, noting that the expansion has been the biggest change she’s observed, but that U of TM has managed to maintain its sense of community.   

With her career at the university spanning over 21 years, Carmen has come to embody the spirit of that community and of the Mississauga campus in general. The ways in she has been described by her colleagues is as the “voice,” the “face” and the “heart and soul” of U of T Mississauga, and specifically of the Research & Graduate office. It is here, in the Research & Graduate office, where she continues to provide vital support for all things research related, and where she fosters a comfortable and inviting environment in which staff, faculty or students always feel welcome to drop by with their questions, concerns, or, sometimes, just to share a chat and a laugh with Carmen.