Celebrating the Western Awards of Excellence

Presenting the winners of the 2015 Western Awards of Excellence, the highest honour for staff member achievement.


Lisa Bitacola
Ivey School of Business, Behavioural Research Lab manager

Nominated for her commitment to faculty research, Lisa Bitacola was applauded for enabling researchers at Ivey to investigate questions from different perspectives.

“Lisa is the outstanding team player who has become indispensable. She goes so far out of her way to make good things happen for those around her. Everyone she interacts with, she makes better, because of a kind word, a smile, an encouraging hand, taking on a bit extra here and there. What awes me is how every single person she interacts with walks away feeling better. She initiates solutions to problems I didn’t even see coming.”


Leslie Gloor Duncan
The Student Success Centre

Nominated for her efforts in cultivating the university’s famed Best Student Experience, Leslie Gloor Duncan was applauded for her dedication to creating and maintaining a positive environment for Western students, faculty and staff, and the broader community, through collaboration and creativity.

“Leslie is always the first person to have unrelenting confidence in a student’s ability to lead, and she genuinely supports the professional development of everyone she works with. She offers guidance, but places trust in a student’s ability to implement their own ideas – a very fine balance.”


Erin Huner
Faculty of Social Science, Office of the Dean

Nominated for her support of Social Science researchers, Erin Huner was celebrated for her ability to navigate the rocky shoals of the grant submission process.

“Erin’s positive outlook, enthusiasm and good humour never flag in the face of looming deadlines and high stakes, and have helped many of us muster the energy for one more draft or reapplication. As a reviewer, she is exceptionally good at identifying key contributions of a proposal, and at helping researchers convey that message clearly for an interdisciplinary audience. If she’s not superhuman or a little bit magic, she is, at the very least, a saint.”


Jon Jacobs
Earth Sciences

Nominated for his work as manager of the Earth Sciences’ Machine Shop, Jon Jacobs was celebrated for his good temper, easy manner and consistent high standard of excellence, stability and advice in service of students, faculty and staff.

“Jon enhances the department by his constant ‘can-do’ attitude. My students and I regularly approach Jon with challenges to produce a part or a fixture for our research projects. If an immediate solution is not apparent to him, Jon always says ‘Leave it with me and I’ll think about it.’ Based on experience, I am always confident that within a day or two, Jon will email me with a design that usually ends up as a good solution.”


Dianne McCormack
Department of Psychology

Nominated for her professional and caring demeanor, Dianne McCormack was applauded for her ability to juggle multiple demands as the department’s administrative officer.

“One can imagine that administrating a department of this scope and diversity is a bit like herding cats, especially when lacking the staff resources found at the faculty level. However, for over the last decades, Dianne has effectively led the diverse staff of Psychology to provide a highly collegial and effective department. Whether dealing with a student who has wandered into her office with a form needing a signature, a faculty member who has locked themselves out of their office or preparing budget documents, Dianne is consistently professional and effective.”


Karen Vankerkoerle
Department of Geography

Nominated for the high quality and variety of her contributions to Western, Karen Vankerkoerle was celebrated for her dedication to teaching and scholarship, and service to the London community.

“The depth of knowledge she has relative to her field (and continued expansion of same), her work ethic, personal affability and professional approach to all she takes on, ensures the best outcome possible with the resources and time at hand. Her rapier-sharp wit is used masterfully to make a thoughtful point, to make light of a stressful situation or to just to be an incredible comedian for the benefit of others.”


Master of Public Health Program staff
Courtney Hambides, Lisa Metselaar, Diana Lee and Judith Thomas

Nominated for their leadership within the program, the Master of Public Health Program staff was celebrated for their unusual ability to balance the administrative detail necessary to run things smoothly with the people skills needed in the day-to-day process.

“The team is an absolute delight to work with. Their cooperative nature is an excellent bridge between faculty and students. Their commitment to service is exemplified by the long hours each put in as we prepared for our inaugural accreditation site visit. We are among the handful of programs in North America deemed ready for accreditation within a year of starting up; this was possible only due to the stupendous efforts put in by the staff. Last, but certainly not the least, their personal character is unimpeachable.”