Recognizing the Staff on Campus

It looks like the President’s Service Award for Excellence is getting a facelift, or at the very least formalizing informal guidelines which were practiced for several years.

Currently, the PSAE is open to both faculty and staff, the recipients (up to five per year) receive a gold medal and a monetary award of $5000. Having sat on the selection committee this past year I gained some insight into the workings of the committee. I also learned about the tremendous individuals who work on this campus who I sadly will never get to meet. I refrain from gushing on for obvious confidentiality reasons. In any case, today I attended an ad-hoc meeting to look at some reforms which Stephen Toope proposed to us*.

One was to make this award staff-only. Another was to increase the types of awards given out to staff – especially given the addition of UBC Okanagan in 2005.

Lisa Castle, AVP Human Resources, was a guest at our meeting today where she came up with a proposal to increase the number of Staff awards in four specified areas: Service to the Community and Sustainability, Service to Enhance Student Experience, Service through exceptional Teamwork (given out to a team of staff, obviously), and Service to Creativity and Innovation. This would all come out of the Endowment, with a minimal increase in award spending (about 12 000$ per year for the extra awards).

It was agreed that service recognition to Faculty was going to be taken up by the new Provost, and that the PSAE as is would now focus on Staff. This is really not a drastic change from current practice – there has only been one Faculty member to receive the PSAE in the past seven years, and spelling out this informal preference is only transparent and fair. It further allows for the realization of separate service awards to Faculty members who serve their community, noting that of course, Emeritus Status and other designations already exist for them.

After the meeting I talked to Lisa about her projects, and she gave me insight into the four different generations of staff she was serving. Each of them had different needs of job satisfaction, and her challenge was to meet most of them and each of their unique needs. The PSAE is only one avenue out of many – younger staff would like to see their job have career openings rather than just recognition for their works.

Overall, I feel that this development was much needed on this large campus. Much like students, I get the sense that the staff can also feel like an anonymous number at times. While students, staff, and faculty all emalgamate to form the community which we find ourselves in, the immense contribution of our staff is often taken for granted and this is a small step towards fostering their growth as well.

*Speaking of which, I saw his wife outside of Shoppers Drugmart today, wearing a beautiful Art-nuveau inspired white and black patterned cocktail dress near her bicycle. I walked in and out of the Dentistry building three times, contemplating whether or not I should go up and introduce myself to chat her up(though we had met before), but in the end decided to give her the anonymity she still enjoys. Her hubby certainly would not have had this luxury!


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