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Employees recognized for "going the extra mile"


by Stephanie Kang

Eleven employees of the University of Toronto Scarborough have been recognized with Stepping UP merit awards that honour the efforts of the university’s administrative staff.

The Stepping UP awards were established to recognize those employees whose hard work and dedication make a direct and positive impact on the university and its community of students, staff and faculty.

This year, 11 staff members from the Scarborough campus were among the 147 U of T recipients. A total of 33 individual prizes and 23 group awards were announced. The second annual Stepping Up Awards reception was hosted by President David Naylor in his official residence at 93 Highland Avenue earlier this term.

On the Scarborough campus, three individuals and two groups were honoured. Recipients of individual awards were: Jeevan Kempson from the office of business and administration, and Carmela Mazin and Helen Morissette, both from financial services. Group awards went to the organizing committee for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. The committee includes: Maria Athwal (human resource services); Shehna Javeed (management); Adriana Koufis (physical and environmental sciences); Marilyn Kwan (human resource services); and Tony Rupnaraine (biological sciences). The second group award went to the parking services team of Marina Ericmilton, Sandi Richens and Cathy Robinson.

President Naylor congratulated all staff recipients on their achievements, describing the administrative staff as the “unsung heroes” of the university who “go the extra mile.”

“At U of T, the academic year is demanding and relentless, and teams and individuals collaborate to make our work lives more rewarding and productive. Without our staff’s ongoing ability to stretch and adapt to the incredible challenges we face on a daily basis, the university would not be where it is today.”

Jeevan Kempson, senior special projects officer, was recognized for her work on two projects. Kempson, who has been working at the university since 1990, first started off as a co-op student in the planning and budget office. Her recent efforts on the committee studying the need for a new classroom building -- in which she assessed the demand for additional classrooms and study space -- and her work on the new budget model, led to her nomination. For the first project, Kempson provided modeling and analysis that included information on physical resources, enrolment and the faculty complement in order to evaluate space needs in the proposed new classroom building. Her analyses are included in the Project Planning Report for the Classroom Building. Kempson’s second project involved work on a new budgeting system as part of a steering group led by U of T’s planning and budget department.

Helen Morissette, financial services director, was recognized for implementing the new budgeting system at U of T Scarborough. The new budget model that has been implemented university-wide features three main changes. First, university-wide costs, known as overhead, are now allocated among all divisions, whereas they were previously held centrally, so administrators now have a more complete picture of what it costs to run the university. Second, all revenues are now directed to the specific division that generates the enrolment — whereas in the past, the campus was given an allocation which did not necessarily match the number of students enrolled. Third, the university is moving from annual budgeting to five-year plans. Morissette said the benefit of this new budget model is that “it enables us to forecast five years ahead and to see the long-term effects of new initiatives.” The revised time frame allows administrators to develop strategies to deal with enrolment and expenditure fluctuations, which were not possible on an annual basis. “This is all a work in progress, because the model is now being implemented for the first time,” said Morissette.

As Kempson put it, “because Scarborough is a campus, it has different needs from a faculty downtown, which is a division of a campus. Scarborough’s needs are unique, and as members of the university’s New Budget Model Steering Committee, Helen and I bring a campus perspective to the table. In that sense, the Steering Committee gains insight on our campus needs and we have the opportunity to propose changes to address those needs.”

Carmela Mazin, financial officer, business operations, was recognized for her completion of the facilities management organizational review. Mazin noted that she appreciated the recognition and that “everyone deserves to be acknowledged like this.” The review encompassed all sections of the department and her work flow analysis enabled her to calculate the work force required, job descriptions, how each task rolled into each section, and to ensure that all jobs were correctly remunerated. The biggest benefit to Facilities Management is that “the review resolved chronic gaps — whether labour or budget — which enabled these departments to provide better services.”

The Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day committee was recognized for its efforts in organizing a successful event at the Scarborough campus. The day was previously held exclusively at the St. George campus. However, in 2001, Adriana Koufis suggested the creation of a Scarborough-specific event, and the idea was first implemented in 2002.

Approximately 30 children between the ages of eight and 12 visit the campus for a day each spring. They are children of staff or faculty at U of T Scarborough. Some activities the children enjoyed this year included: creating their own works of art following a tour of the Doris McCarthy Art Gallery; viewing and holding small animals after learning different ways that animals breathe and cope with extreme temperatures and other adaptations; discussing issues related to climate change; and visiting and playing in the gym. The children also participated in various demonstrations and talks led by faculty and staff who volunteered to create sessions for the children.

“It’s nice to receive an award for something that is a joy to do,” said Koufis. She adds that “the team worked hard to ensure that the sessions were hands-on so that the children could take part in some activity related to the fine research conducted here.”

She recalled that one of the child visitors to the campus for the day last spring said to her, “I thought that I wanted to become a doctor, but now I realize that I want to be a scientist.” Koufis said that the university visit had opened the boy’s eyes to alternative career options that he might not have considered otherwise.

The parking services team of Marina Ericmilton, Sandi Richens and Cathy Robinson also received a group award. The team was recognized for its implementation of the online parking permit sales process. This online system allows students to log on from anywhere in the world and purchase a pass for the school year. The convenience of purchasing the pass online appealed to many prospective buyers who were no longer required to visit the office in person or stand in line, said Sandi Richens, The online system is now being implemented for the third consecutive year. “Apart from a few initial bumps in the road, the process went pretty smoothly … it really was a team effort,” said Richens.

Stephanie Kang is a third-year English student. She is currently working as a co-op student in Marketing and Communications.

© University of Toronto Scarborough