Office of the Principal and Vice-Chancellor

[Principal and Vice Chancellor]
[Principal and Vice Chancellor]

Principal's Holiday Reception and Staff Recognition Awards

Remarks made by Daniel R. Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, at the Principal's Holiday Reception and Staff Recognition Awards

Where: Athletics and Recreation Centre, Queen's University
When: December 16, 2014

Check against delivery.


Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the Principal’s holiday reception.

This is one of the few opportunities we get every year to gather together as a community of staff and faculty members. It is a time to visit with colleagues and maybe even meet a few new people.

We’re a very big place and opportunities to get together like this are not all that frequent. They are however a wonderful occasion to reconnect and make new acquaintances.

Today is also an opportunity for me to thank you for your hard work this year. Because a university doesn’t just BECOME one of the best in the country. It is a status that is EARNED – and its earned through the hard work of the people who, day in and day out, give their very best efforts to make it so.

No matter what you do here at Queen’s – whether you work directly with students, spend your days doing research, or keep the wheels moving behind the scenes –you are vital to our operations. Working together, we are able to provide our students with a transformative learning experience. We are able to pursue research that changes the world and makes lives better.

I think that is a pretty special way to get to spend your days.

In short, what we do here really matters to the hundreds of thousands of students that pass through our doors over the years, to the lives improved by our research across the country and internationally.

I am very grateful for the opportunity to work at Queen’s, and to all of you for choosing to work at Queen’s. Thank you for being part of our community – for sharing your energy, ideas and enthusiasm with us.

We are lucky to have you.

Today is also the day we hand out our Staff Recognition Awards. This year we are recognizing seven individuals, as well as one team.

These awards recognize staff members who make outstanding contributions – both directly and indirectly – to the learning and working environment here at Queen’s.

Our winners were nominated by their colleagues. I want to thank everyone who took the time to recognize the quality of the people they work with.

And without further ado…

Our first recipient today is Debra Easter.

Deb is an administrative assistant in the office of the vice-provost and dean of student affairs. She also runs the Trademark and Licensing program, where she works to ensure that Queen’s registered trademarks are used correctly and with permission across the university. Deb has been a member of the Student Affairs team for the past 19 years. Highly regarded by staff, students and faculty alike, Deb has been commended for her remarkable customer service and problem solving skills, not to mention her enthusiasm for whatever she turns her attention to.It is my pleasure to present Deb Easter with this Special Recognition for Staff award.

Our next award winner is Brenda Schamehorn.

As Ecology Program Associate and a Senior Lab Instructor in the Department of Biology, Brenda is responsible for coordinating the lab practical and field exercise components of the two third year core ecology courses. She is also the primary administrator in the department coordinating the Off-Campus Activities and the Field Safety Program. In short: for more than twenty years, Brenda has played an instrumental role in helping train undergraduate students in the Department of Biology. She has been commended by her colleagues for her scientific ability and knowledge and for her large capacity to fire up enthusiasm in students. She has also worked to ensure that those students have had remarkably well-organized hands-on experiences when they venture into the field.As one colleague put it, “the program would fall apart without her.” Her kindness, generosity, energy, empathy and inclination to go over and above expectations, make Brenda Schamehorn an ideal candidate for this Special Recognition for Staff award.

Our next recipient is Matthew King.

Matt is National Project Manager with the Social Program Evaluation Group (or SPEG) at the Faculty of Education. He was first hired thirty years ago as a computer analyst and data manager for the unit, eventually becoming a research associate and then moving into his current role – working as project manager for a study on the Healthy Behaviours of School-Aged Children. Matt enjoys an excellent reputation for his work both inside and outside the university, and he is dedicated to ensuring the success of every project he takes on. He works long hours and is committed to maintain high standards of excellence. As his nominators put it: “Matt King is by far the most practical and wise data analyst that this research group has ever encountered.” It is my pleasure to present Matthew King with this Special Recognition for Staff award.

Our next award goes to Elizabeth Racine

Liz Racine coordinates the Peer Mentoring Program with Health, Counselling and Disability Services. Over the course of her more than fifteen years at Queen’s, Liz has recruited, hired, trained and supervised approximately 1300 students as part of this respected and valued program. Liz is known for her compassion, her kindness, and her patience towards her students. She not only supports those students who need a nurturing hand – she also provides opportunities for those who want to be of service in our community. As one student nominator put it, “Liz has definitely improved my quality of life as a student at Queen’s.” All of that makes Liz Racine an ideal candidate for this Special Recognition for Staff award.

Next, I will call on Kenneth Ball, our next award recipient.

Ken is Administrative Assistant and Workshop Supervisor at the Faculty of Education. Ken came to the Faculty after a long and successful career as a teacher with the Limestone Board of Education. He is an educator, mentor and problem solver for faculty and students enrolled in the technology education program. A consummate people person, Ken believes in team building and skill development. He keeps abreast of new technologies and advocates for their inclusion in the faculty’s technology programs. One nominator described him as the “most creative, most innovative, most organized and certainly the most dedicated” workshop supervisor he had ever met. It is my pleasure to present Ken Ball with this Special Recognition for Staff award.

And finally, our last individual award goes to Lee Hancock.

Lee is a support analyst with IT Services. It is a role that sees him providing IT support for both Richardson Hall and to Stauffer Library. I know from personal experience that Lee is a magician when it comes to fixing IT issues. Not only is his wealth of knowledge expansive, he is also unfailingly calm, always pleasant and positive, and demonstrates a remarkable dedication to his work. He makes himself available at the drop of a hat, no matter how big or how small the IT “crisis” might be – and always manages to come up with a solution (and you can imagine that in Richardson Hall, there is always some kind of crisis happening…). Lee has even been known to offer up his assistance after hours and even when he is away from work due to illness.For these and many other reasons, it is my pleasure to present Lee Hancock with this Special Recognition for Staff award.

And finally: our group award goes to the Mining support staff in the Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining.

The group is comprised of:

Tina McKenna – Undergraduate Program Assistant)
Kate Cowperthwaite [PRON: Copper-thWAIT] (Graduate Program Assistant)
Maritza Bailey (Mineral Processing Technician)
Oscar Rielo (Senior Program Coordinator)
Perry Ross (Mining Engineering Technician)
And Larry Steele (Testing Operator)

These six people have been nominated as a group because of the tremendous impact they have had on day-to-day operations in the Mining department. Though they are all from different backgrounds, they are all friends – each one as dedicated to his or her job as the next. Ultimately, they are a group that is committed to going above and beyond the call of duty to help students and to making sure that their department thrives. It is my pleasure to present all six members of the support staff in the Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining with this Special Recognition for Staff award. I also want to note that one of our award winners was unable to attend this afternoon.

Marjorie Lambert, an Administrative Assistant in the department of Mathematics and Statistics is attending a holiday event that her department is hosting today. Her department head will be presenting her with her award.

And with that, please join me in congratulating ALL of this year’s Special Recognition Award winners.

I want to acknowledge Darlene Daniels, Shannon Hill, Emily Johnston and Lee Van Niedek who all worked very hard to put this event on. Thank you very much.

I also want to thank the event services team – Jenny DeBruyn, Emily Osborne and Katharine Newstead – for their important contributions.

I will be back up here at 1pm to make the draw for the hand-crafted gingerbread house, courtesy of Queen’s Hospitality Services by Sodexo.

In the meantime, please enjoy the rest of today’s reception.

Thank you.