At this week’s University of Guelph Community Breakfast, kicking off the 2023-24 school year, President Dr. Charlotte Yates recognized one team and eight individuals with the annual President’s Awards for Exemplary Staff Service.

Established in 2003, the awards honour U of G staff and faculty committed to excellence who have exceeded expectations.

“We are privileged to be a home to dedicated, skilled and well-supported faculty and staff and it is important that we recognize and celebrate them,” Yates said. “These awards allow us to recognize our peers for excellence and outstanding service, and to celebrate their achievements.”

“Great work is being done on this campus by fantastic people who make U of G a special place to be,” she added.

Here are this year’s recipients:

Exemplary Team Recognition Award

Guelph Family Health Study staff

The Guelph Family Health Study staff – Angela Annis, Maddy Nixon, Shannon Pare and Adam Sadowski – has raised awareness of one of the largest family cohort studies in Canada and served as exemplary community ambassadors for U of G. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they helped shift from in-person to virtual data collection to support the nearly 350 families and 30+ researchers and trainees in the project. Their call for study participants to examine COVID-19 impacts recruited nearly 250 families within hours and ultimately provided invaluable insights about the daily lives of Canadian families during the pandemic.

Wellness, Health and Safety Award

Peter Smith

A longtime lab technician in the School of Environmental Sciences, Smith coordinates training of staff and students on the use of scientific equipment and lab safety and is a longstanding member of the school’s safety committee. During COVID-19, Smith handled in-person training and safety requirements, including supporting dozens of critical and time-sensitive research projects. He ensured COVID-19 compliance in labs and undertook routine administrative tasks for the school. Going beyond his normal job requirements, he took on responsibility for reporting COVID-19 supplies for the entire University.

Hidden Hero Award

Diane Dobbins

Manager of research and partnerships for the Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics, Dobbins has helped lead fundraising and awareness-raising for the school. By holding information sessions and running grant application support groups, she helped improve researchers’ funding application success, particularly during COVID-19. Dobbins connects new faculty members with colleagues and funding opportunities, links faculty members with ambitious students, created the Women of Lang Network to integrate the school’s departments, and has championed equity, diversity and inclusion.

Joanne Mead

Desk services manager in Student Housing Services, Mead normally manages 14 full-time staff and about 100 student staff on various campus residence and summer conference desks. Short-staffed during the fall 2022 semester, Mead personally worked desk shifts alongside her regular duties to ensure full residence service for students. She led the efficient implementation of new housing management software, including helping staff accommodate changes to daily operations and developing and implementing training materials.

Innovative Leadership Recognition Award

Morag Stewart

Director of advancement with the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC), Stewart has been integral to the fundraising success of the college, which has raised more than $27 million since 2019. She created a new engagement officer role, reorganized annual giving and filled gaps through partnerships with colleagues in other units. Under budget constraints and while most of her team members were in temporary full-time roles, Stewart creatively uncovered opportunities for permanent funding; all team members are now on regular full-time status.

Service Excellence Recognition Award

Ian Baran

A service assistant in enrolment services within the Office of the Registrar, Baran supports students one-on-one with enrolment-related issues. He developed and implemented a new initiative to make the confirmation of enrolment fulfilment process more efficient. He also spent almost 20 hours over a weekend testing a new technology that may further expedite confirmation of enrolment and lessen human error, all while improving student service at U of G.

Joanna Sawicki

A technical supervisor in the virology section of the Animal Health Laboratory (AHL), Sawicki manages more than 20 technicians and students and oversees lab operations including 600,000 tests a year. During an avian influenza outbreak in Ontario in 2022, the AHL worked with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) on intensive diagnostic testing of numerous samples. Sawicki reorganized lab operations to improve efficiency, enabling the CFIA to control viral spread and ensure routine bird movement.

Sara King

An external engagement specialist in the Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics, King, organizes the Lang High School Leadership Academy, which teaches responsible business to students from across Ontario. As part of the school’s IEDI efforts, King runs the annual HeForShe program and the Breaking Barriers, Creating Connections networking event hosted by the Guelph Black Professionals and the Lang Students’ Association. Through her involvement with various student initiatives, she has helped to position Lang as a modern business school and to increase its domestic and international student recruitment prospects.

Excellence in Undergraduate Academic Advising Medallion

Connie Zavitz

Manager of curriculum development and student advising in the Department of Management within the Lang School, Zavitz oversees advising responsibilities for more than 1,200 students in accounting and management majors. She teaches applied financial accounting, coaches student groups and advises student associations.

Beyond her advising hours, Zavitz runs open houses for prospective students, hosts a welcome session for majors, supports students at job fairs and has supported student-run case competitions.