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Celebrating staff accomplishments

It has been a year like no other yet staff across Queen’s University have stepped up to the challenges created by COVID-19.

On Thursday, Dec. 10, Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane recognized a number of staff for their accomplishments and contributions with the announcement of the 2020 Special Recognition for Staff Awards.

“These awards recognize our colleagues who have truly gone above and beyond their day-to-day activities and contribute to a positive work environment,” says Principal Deane. “This has been an exceptionally challenging year and I want to thank everyone for their hard work and dedication in helping Queen’s and our students in the face of extraordinary obstacles.”

Normally, these awards are handed out during the Principal’s Holiday Reception. With the event not being held this year, a video presentation to recognize the recipients was produced by the Office of the Principal.

This year’s winners are:

Team Award: Centre for Teaching and Learning

Lauren Anstey, Educational Developer
Robin Attas, Educational Developer
Lindsay Brant, Educational Developer, Indigenous Pedagogies and Ways of Knowing
Karla Coleman, Educational Technology Advisor
Selina Idlas, Educational Technology Innovation Specialist
Kaitlin McDonald, Departmental Assistant 
Karalyn McRae, Educational Development Fellow
Louise Moran, Office Administrator
Sandra Murray, Program Coordinator

Graduate students to mention: Yasmine Djerbal, Nevena Martinovic and Andrea Reid
Faculty member to mention: Andy Leger

Since Queen’s moved to remote course delivery in March, Centre for Teaching and Learning staff, and the faculty and students who work with them, have responded to every pedagogical need and request that has come their way, while anticipating other needs before they emerge. The calibre, quantity and design of programming and resources this group has produced is astonishing. They rapidly built teaching toolkits for instructors and teaching assistants. They developed scores of web-based resources, videos and more than 120 facilitated webinars and virtual drop-in question-and-answer sessions. They did all this in addition to their regular programming and development, classroom renewal projects, and one-on-one consultations. These professional, talented, innovative, collaborative, thoughtful, generous and fun people all have different skills, and they make that diversity work. Their passion for teaching excellence is infectious. No matter what the occasion, they energize, inspire and humanize this vital part of academic life.

Alicia Boutilier
Interim Director/Chief Curator/Curator of Canadian Historical Art
Agnes Etherington Art Centre

In her usual role as Chief Curator of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Alicia Boutilier is known as a great team player. However, as Interim Director for the first nine months of 2020, she proved she’s also a great team leader. During this time of uncertainty, Alicia demonstrated skilled leadership, adaptability and flexibility, rising to the challenge of her expanded responsibilities. At the start of the pandemic Alicia swiftly facilitated her staff’s transition to offsite work. She encouraged innovative shifts to program offerings through new digital platforms, while engaging existing supporters and reaching new audiences. In July, she oversaw the reopening of the Agnes with new capacity limits and protocols, ensuring that staff, students and community members could experience art in person. In response to closures at the Agnes and museums around the world, she shifted exhibition schedules and installations that had been planned years in advance. In late August, she oversaw the launch of five new exhibitions and continues to nurture relationships with artists, students, colleagues, donors, members, visitors and guest curators.

Graeme Boyd
Department Manager
Department of Civil Engineering

As Department Manager, Graeme Boyd oversees the staff, the budget and the operations of all Civil Engineering facilities, including laboratories in three buildings: Ellis Hall, Mitchell Hall and the Coastal and GeoEngineering Laboratories at West Campus. When the pandemic hit in March, Graeme’s leadership skills kicked into high gear. Civil Engineering houses some of the world’s leading long-term testing programs related to civil engineering infrastructure. Graeme moved quickly after the lockdown to identify programs that would be compromised if left unattended and arranged for the safe and effective maintenance of others. He also led the development of guidelines for the On Campus Research Safety plan to prioritize graduate students’ and postdoctoral research fellows’ return to the laboratory. Civil engineering was asked to trial return-to-work procedures in other campus units. Because of Graeme’s effective planning and protocols, Queen’s was one of the first institutions in Canada to reopen its labs, and Civil is believed to be the first to have students recommence their experiments.

Amanda Consack
Student Assessment and Academic Affairs Coordinator
Undergraduate Medical Education, School of Medicine

As Student Assessment and Academic Affairs Coordinator, Amanda Consack coordinates the internal and external accreditation processes in Undergraduate Medical Education. She also oversees delivery of electronic examinations and the student support team and supports administrative functions for committees. In the first week of the pandemic lockdown in March, the unit had to find ways to administer final exams to students or risk putting their graduation in jeopardy. Within 24 hours, Amanda determined that their locally developed exams could be administered with remote proctoring and arranged it. For other exams she worked to find Queen’s spaces that exceeded the requirements for physical distancing and ensured that no student had to write an exam late. Due to its educational mandate and activities, Undergraduate Medical Education had to find creative ways to deliver an in-person curriculum on campus. Amanda swiftly explored options for an online platform to support a COVID-19 screening process for students. Before the committee charged with the task had met, Amanda had already solved many of the logistical concerns and presented viable options for discussion.

Heather Drouillard
Department Manager
Department of Chemistry

As a Department Manager, Heather Drouillard is responsible for a multitude of essential services that range from finances to staff to space management in the Department of Chemistry. An impeccable professional and master administrator, Heather is adept at identifying the source of a problem and coming up with a solution. The lockdown put teaching and research activities at severe risk; not to mention the pandemic’s impact on student and staff mental health and livelihoods. Heather’s encyclopedic knowledge of departmental space and staff organization was integral in the development of a safety plan that allowed the department to quickly reopen in mid-June with COVID-19 safeguards in place. It was one of the first on campus to do so. The rapid reopening enabled coordinators and grad student TAs to pivot during the summer and develop remote, online labs to instruct undergraduate students in the fall and winter terms. Heather worked with faculty and students to maximize operational space so that more grad students could safely return and complete their studies.

Corinna Fitzgerald
Assistant Dean, Student Life and Learning
Division of Student Affairs

After arriving at Queen’s four years ago, Corinna Fitzgerald brought together seven disparate Student Life and Learning units and created a community. As Assistant Dean of Student Life and Learning, Corinna is fair, direct and supportive. She is dedicated to ensuring that students are at the centre of her work, her conversations and the decisions she makes. She cares deeply about creating change that will benefit all students. For example, as a key member of the Senate Orientation Activities Review Board, Corinna balances listening with leading. She uses diplomacy to broach and make progress on difficult issues, navigating tensions between tradition and the need to embrace change. When the pandemic hit, Corinna helped her team to move their work online, while retaining the positive impact that one-on-one advice and connection have on students’ academic and non-academic experiences, particularly during these unusual and uncertain times. Corinna protects her staff from backlash when they speak out about racist or queerphobic incidents and attitudes on campus. She clears the path for staff and students to advocate for change.

Alex Fletcher
Senior Application Support Technician
Queen’s University Library

As Senior Application Support Technician, Alex Fletcher’s role is critical to the running of the entire library system. After keeping the QCAT legacy system functioning well past its expected life cycle, Alex prepared for the Library’s successful migration to the new province-wide Omni system in December, 2019. Since Queen’s had the “cleanest” data, it was chosen to be used in provincial training sessions. Alex’s depth of knowledge was obvious at these sessions, so other academic libraries looked to Queen’s, specifically Alex, for guidance, and continue to do so. Alex also has excellent people skills. During the migration, he consulted widely and often, using these encounters to teach, reassure, and make himself available for questions and feedback. Staff members’ confidence in him was evident, and his personal approach went a long way in helping staff to transition to the new system.

Barbara Latimer
Administrative Assistant and Office Supervisor
Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine

As Administrative Assistant and Office Supervisor, Barbara Latimer’s strong work ethic is well known in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine. A supremely competent administrator of a department consisting of a mix of office and research staff, clinical faculty, undergrad medical and life sciences students, grad students and pathology residents all who have close connections to Queen’s teaching hospitals, Barb is the first point of contact for any issue that these people face on a daily basis. Clinical departments associated with teaching hospitals face an incredible bureaucracy associated with recruitment, credentialing, appointments, compensation and annual faculty appraisals. Barb ably looks after this process for 30 clinical faculty members, as well as the QUFA processes for seven basic science researchers. When the university locked down in March, the department faced a tricky situation. Although it is a Queen’s department, the clinical pathologists needed to keep working on site. Within days, Barb had policies and procedures organized, plexiglass barriers being installed, signs up and masks available. The department did not miss a step.