In a year marked by upheaval and change, one thing remained the same – a commitment to excellence demonstrated by staff at Western. From faculties to research, from student to staff support, presented here are the recipients of the 2020 Western Award of Excellence.
This award represents the highest level of campus-wide recognition for the exceptional performance of Western staff.
Nominated by faculty, staff, students and alumni, recipients are chosen for their exemplary service, creativity and innovation, the ability to share their knowledge and expertise and their capacity to foster their values of integrity and respect across campus.
The 2020 recipients will be formally celebrated at a virtual ceremony on Monday, Feb. 1 at 1:00 p.m. Those wishing to attend are asked to register in advance.
Network Administrator, Faculty of Social Science
Psychologist. Genius. Gentleman. Even, MacGyver. Kam Abado has been called a lot of things, but as network administrator for the Faculty of Social Science, he mostly just gets called. A lot. While providing hundreds of staff members, faculty and graduate students with technical support, Kam makes each client feel like they’re his only one. Lauded for his technical skills, patience, and sense of humour, “the pandemic brought all of those attributes to the forefront,” one colleague said, of Kam’s “heroic” efforts to keep everyone up and running. “Once again demonstrating, that without him, most of us could not teach or conduct our research.” Pandemic or not, Kam sets the highest standard for his work, ensuring every task is done in a timely fashion, with enormous attention, and a smile.
Director of Development, Faculty of Engineering
Throughout her 20 years at Western, Terra Ahrens has risen through the ranks, while raising millions in philanthropic and research funds for the Faculty of Engineering, Mustang athletics, and the Ivey Business School. Terra’s “professionalism, strategic thinking and donor-centered approach” inspires her colleagues, who also appreciate her positive attitude, compassion for others and collaborative approach. As the director of development in Western Engineering, Terra is highly skilled and strategic at matching philanthropic interests of alumni and corporate donors with Western’s highest priority needs, including student support, infrastructure and research chairs. Terra recently led her team in nearly doubling their fundraising target, while onboarding a new dean, a process now being incorporated into a broader onboarding approach for deans and academic leaders across campus.
Associate Director, Residence Conduct and Conflict Resolution, Housing & Ancillary Services
As associate director, residence conduct and conflict resolution, Jodi Freeman handles unique situations requiring grit and grace. While investigating complex behavioural incidents in residence, student health and safety is Jodi’s top concern. As project manager on a multi-pronged plan to address the unsanctioned Broughdale street party in 2019, her organizational skills were crucial in what was a successful effort to prevent serious injuries that day. Often the liaison with families when a student has passed away, one colleague observed that Jodi “represents the best of Western, during what are the worst of times for families.” Jodi’s empathy and commitment to those grieving has been immeasurable, with one family calling her their “guardian angel, keeping us safe from further harm during a terribly traumatic time.”
Director of Operations at ImPaKT, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry
For the past five years, Richard Gibson has been overseeing operations as lead developer for the Imaging Pathogens for Knowledge Translation (ImPaKT) Facility, employing his strong interpersonal skills, leadership capabilities and expertise in pathogen research. His efforts overseeing this $8-million facility culminated with its grand opening at the end of 2019, just prior to the onset of COVID-19. Richard then drove the rapid response effort to bring ImPaKT online to respond to the pandemic, with colleagues crediting much of the facility’s success to his commitment to ensuring those around him succeed and the esteem he has earned from a variety of stakeholders. Under Richard’s leadership, ImPaKT has executed more than 14 private industry contracts and multiple grant-funded research projects, helping Western emerge as a national leader in commercializing pathogen research.
Student Services Co-ordinator, Faculty of Law
Tigger Jourard is described as the “linchpin of the Western Law community,” providing “consistent direction to new faculty and students with professionalism and passion.” In addition to her central role as student services co-ordinator, Tigger’s talents have brought her other responsibilities in helping to keep the law school running smoothly. Her eye for detail and grasp of the English language deem her the “go to” for proof-reading letters and manuscripts. Not only will she edit draft exams at incredible speed, she’ll also identify problems with the content of the questions. Tigger’s direction of the trial scene from The Merchant of Venice for the faculty’s 50th anniversary still draws rave reviews a decade on, with her theatre background invoking grace under pressure and her cheery perspective of “the show must go on!”
Manager, Undergraduate Services, Faculty of Engineering
As Engineering’s manager of undergraduate services, Clare Tattersall is recognized as one of “the best role models at Western for her caring and effective relationships with her peers and students.” Clare’s efforts include countless one-on-one meetings with students and an engineering support group she offers bi-weekly on her lunch hour for those struggling with anxiety or loneliness. While she consistently goes above and beyond to help, a colleague notes Clare’s “actions are always guided by the tenet that the responsibility for success lies squarely with the students,” increasing the long-term impact of her counsel. Clare’s leadership is credited for Western Engineering being recognized by the National Council of Deans of Engineering and Applied Science for the faculty’s approach to supporting the mental health of students.
When the pandemic hit this past spring, Western’s Centre for Teaching and Learning leadership team— director Aisha Haque and associate directors Melanie-Anne Atkins and Stephanie Horsley – sprang into action. Their tasks ranged from developing and implementing a tiered framework to supporting faculty members in converting 3,000 courses to a remote delivery format – creating highly praised OWL templates, webinars, and online workshops to support faculty – to culling hundreds of resumes and conducting dozens of interviews to hire 12 instructional designers to assist faculty in the remote learning process. Each praised by the colleagues for their positive attitudes and abilities to rise to the challenge, what makes Aisha, Melanie-Anne and Stephanie’s contributions more impressive is they are all new to these interim roles.