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Past Recipients

The Western Award of Excellence

Western is proud of our staff members who demonstrate exceptional commitment to the University’s values and who contribute in a demonstrable way to Western's reputation as a leading institution of higher learning. The Western Award of Excellence provides meaningful and enriching recognition, offering respect and appreciation to outstanding staff and academic administrative leaders. Here are our past award recipients.

2023 recipients of The Western Award of Excellence

  • Diane Mills  – Faculty of Music
  • Erika Hill  – Geography & Environment
  • Fay Harrison  – BrainsCAN
  • Heidi Van Galen  – History
  • Louise Koza  – Human Resources
  • Sridhar Ramamurthy  – Surface Science Western
  • Sylvia Kontra  - Language & Culture
  • Western Technology Services Moves, Adds & Changes (MAC) Team: Chris Hromlak, Dallas Heywood, Heather Woods, Kifle Mekuria, Levi Otten, Paul Hill, Ricky Price, Robert Vanderminnen & Sarah Hodgson

The 2023 recipients were formally celebrated at a ceremony held on February 14th, 2024 in the Great Hall, Somerville House.

2022 recipients of The Western Award of Excellence

  • Carrie Schnurr  – Hospitality Services
  • Darren Pitre  – Western Research
  • Dominique Perreault  – Western Technology Services
  • Jann Paquette-Warren  – Research Development & Services
  • Jennifer Devlin  – Anatomy & Cell Biology and Medical Biophysics
  • John-Derek Clarke  – Ivey – Masters Program, Admissions
  • Lise Laporte  - Western International
  • Indigenous Student Centre Team: Amanda Bragg, Arbor Morris, Ashley Kewayosh Samuel, Donna Noah, Joel Persaud, Kelly Nicholas, Kylie Bressette, Marisa Geris and Paul Porter

Read Western News coverage of the 2022 recipients.

The 2022 recipients were celebrated at a ceremony held in the Great Hall on February 8, 2023.

2021 recipients of The Western Award of Excellence

  • Sara Mai Chitty - Office of Indigenous Initiatives
  • Melanie Katsivo - Schulich - Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
  • Karen Kueneman - Faculty of Music
  • Sonya Malone - Student Health Services
  • Kim Miller - Academic Support & Engagement
  • Sergio Rodriguez - Western Technology Services
  • Connie Zrini - Faculty Relations
  • Teacher Education Office Team - Faculty of Education
    - Cindy Barnes, Rebecca Cole, Cathy Cornett, Courtney Klein, Joanne Lombardi, Katie Mentone, Anna Zuber
  • Undergraduate Ontario Admissions Team - Office of the Registrar
    - Samia Lahib, Kathryn Thomas, Theresa Serwatuk, Sarah Visscher

Western News coverage of the 2021 recipients

The 2021 recipients were formally celebrated at a virtual ceremony on February 9, 2022. 
Watch a video of the ceremony

2020 recipients of The Western Award of Excellence

  • Kam Abado -  Faculty of Social Science
  • Terra Ahrens –  Western Engineering
  • Jodi Freeman –  Housing & Ancillary Services
  • Rick Gibson -  Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry
  • Tigger Jourard –  Western Law
  • Clare Tattersall -  Western Engineering
  • Teaching and Learning Leadership Team –  Centre for Teaching and Learning
    - Aisha Haque, Melanie-Anne Atkins and Stephanie Horsley

Western News coverage of the 2020 recipients

The 2020 recipients were formally celebrated at a virtual ceremony. 
Watch a video of the ceremony

2019 recipients of The Western Award of Excellence

  • Andrea Legato  -   Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Angelica Lucaci  -   Faculty of Social Science
  • Rebecca Northcott  -   Faculty of Social Science
  • Fred Ross -   Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry
  • Julaine Hall -   Research Western
  • Robin Keirstead -   Western Libraries
  • eLearning Technology Team - Western Technology Services
    • Deanna Grogan, Shawn Foster, Adam Pypstra, Jen Sadler, Ramon Sanchez

Western News story about the 2019 recipients.

2018 recipients of The Western Award of Excellence

  • Linda Brock - Faculty of Social Science
  • Cara Bourdeau - Human Resources
  • Sarah Dawson - Alumni Relations & Development
  • Kristen Edwards - Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Jane Sexsmith - Faculty of Science
  • Susan Simpson - Neuroscience
  • Slobodanka Sotinac - Facilities Management

Western News story about the 2018 recipients

2017 recipients of The Western Award of Excellence

  • Geoff Houlton
  • Debra Merrifield
  • Michal Valovcik
  • Lori Johnson
  • Phin Perquin
  • Rebecca Smith
  • Jess Bechard

Western News story about the 2017 recipients

2016 recipients of The Western Award of Excellence

Selecting a name below will lead to a video that includes a speech by both the award nominator and the award recipient:

Western News story about the 2016 recipients

2015 recipients of The Western Award of Excellence

Selecting a name below will lead to a video that includes a speech by both the award nominator and the award recipient:

Western News article on the 2015 Western Award of Excellence recipients.

2014 recipients of The Western Award of Excellence

  • Deborah Coward
  • Chris Vandelaar
  • Halina Krawczuk
  • Jim Galbraith
  • Chris Alleyne
  • Karen Assatourians
  • Wendy Ambrose-Hope

Western News article  on the 2014 Western Award of Excellence recipients.

2013 recipients of The Western Award of Excellence

Congratulations to the 2013 recipients of The Western Award of Excellence:

  • Kimberley Law
  • Peggy Vandervoort
  • Susan Smyth
  • Karin Feulgen
  • Penny Westmacott
  • Leanne Trask
  • Mary Peterson

Read about the recipients in Western News

2012 recipients of The Western Award of Excellence

Selecting a name below will lead to a video that includes a speech by both the award nominator and the award recipient:

Western News article about the 2012 Western Award of Excellence recipients.

2011 recipients of The Western Award of Excellence

Selecting a name below will lead to a video that includes a speech by both the award nominator and the award recipient:

2010 recipients of The Western Award of Excellence

Selecting a name below will lead to a video that includes a speech by both the award nominator and the award recipient:

2009 recipients of The Western Award of Excellence

Selecting a name below will lead to a video that includes a speech by both the award nominator and the award recipient:

Marie Graham
Stephanie Hayne
Dalin Jameson
Haley Linklater
Nina Lowes
Perry Masse
Theresa Russelo

Western News article on the 2009 Western Award of Excellence Recipients.

2008 recipients of The Western Award of Excellence

  • Julie Ashford
  • Patricia Connor
  • Doug Gillian
  • Sandy Paiva and Nicolina Ficca
  • Barry Price
  • Walter Zimmerman

2007 recipients of The Western Award of Excellence

Yvonne Adams - Graduate Coordinator, Department of Economics

For many Economics students Yvonne Adams is not a staff member – she is part of their family. Her willingness to go above and beyond to help students comes not from the job description, but personal choice.

Adams has worked in the Department of Economics for more than 34 years – the last six years as Graduate Coordinator – and it would not be stretching the truth to say everyone in Economics has an ‘Yvonne story’ to tell.

“She is a face of Western we can all be proud of,” says Associate Professor Audra Bowlus, adding Adams is the central figure Economic students learn to love. “She is the one they meet first; she is the one they chat with in the hall between classes; she is the one who helps them submit their thesis; and she is the first to congratulate them when they graduate.”

Director of Graduate Studies Todd Stinebrickner says Adams consistently exceeds the expectations set for her, excelling in all dimensions of her job.

“It is perhaps in her direct interactions with our graduate students that she shines most brightly. It is clear why our students adore her. In short, Yvonne is simply the best.”

For Adams, the unexpected honour turned out to be the perfect gift.

“The day I was told was my birthday, so it really made it a special day,” she says. “I feel very honoured to be recognized and appreciated by so many colleagues. The overwhelming support I received is heartwarming.”

Adams adds she can’t imagine working anywhere else than the Department of Economics where she says the people she works with are “some of the most professional and dedicated people I know.”

“I can’t thank them enough for all they have done for me,” she says.

Wayne Brereton - Director of Technical Services, Faculty of Arts and Humanities

For 37 years, Wayne Brereton has seen more than his fair share of new technology surface on campus. But it’s how he’s helped others in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities merge these educational tools as an asset in the academic environment that has made him one of the faculty’s “best kept secrets.”

As Director of Technical Services (Faculty of Arts and Humanities), Brereton is one who wouldn’t think twice about interrupting his weekends or after-hours time to ensure the needs of faculty members are met.

“He possesses that rare and wonderful gift of being able to explain technical issues with great lucidity,” says Chris Gittings, Associate Professor and Chair of Film Studies. “Wayne’s tremendous curiosity means he is always bringing new ideas and approaches into both the human resources side of his job and the technical side of things.”

Brereton has multiple responsibilities including management of the Film Resource Centre, support of ‘smart’ classrooms and especially hands-on service in audio/visual equipment, recording, dubbing and editing.

For Professor Douglas Kneale, Department of English Chair, Brereton’s contributions make him the “one-stop, go-to guy.”

“It’s been said that technology gives us ways to goof up in ways we never dreamt of before,” says Kneale. “I think we’ve all been there – but how many of us have had a tech hero like Wayne to come to the rescue?”

Brereton is humbled by the award, seeing as he doesn’t consider his job to be work since it’s something he’s enjoyed doing most of his adult life.

“I'd like to thank the five deans, administrators, staff, faculty and students I've been associated with the past 37 years (reel-to-reel tape to the ic recorder) for their  contributions, support and friendship that have made this an incredible adventure.”

Wendy Hough -  Graduate Affairs Assistant, Department of Medical Biophysics

A motherly figure who cares greatly about putting students first – at times handing out free candy and snacks to graduate students - Wendy Hough has been referred to as the “super-glue that binds together students” in the Department of Medical Biophysics.

Hanif Ladak, Chair of Medical Biophysics, says since Hough began working at Western in 1998, the graduate program has more than doubled in size from 44 students to 91.

“Wendy builds and fosters Western’s core values,” says Ladak. “She does not simply go an extra mile in serving our students and staff, but she goes an extra 10 miles.”

One example was Hough’s initiative in tackling the department’s website, increasingly a critical source of information for students and faculty. This required Hough taking software courses in the evening to hone her computer skills.

“She makes things happen and has been creative in making it part of the structure of being a graduate student in Medical Biophysics,” says Professor Peter Canham, noting her behind the scenes work makes all the difference.

Hough, who helps interface with such a diverse groups of scientists, clinicians, staff members and graduate students across London, could simply say “wow” when told of the news of the award.

“I work in a department filled with the best faculty and staff on campus,” says Hough. “I am thrilled that the graduate chairs, department chairs, graduate students, and my peers took the time to nominate me for this award. I am thoroughly humbled by their thoughtful gesture.”

Hough says her department offers a unique and supportive work environment that has allowed her to grow intellectually and that fosters professional self improvement.

“Their attitude has always been ‘go for it but don't forget to use your best judgment’.”

Brenda MacEachern -  Curator, Richard and Beryl Ivey Visual Resources Library, Department of Visual Arts

There is no exaggeration in saying Brenda MacEachern, virtually single-handed, has made the Richard and Beryl Ivey Visual Resources Library what it is today.

Part of the Department of Visual Arts for more than 37 years, MacEachern has helped construct an image bank embracing more than 150,000 works of art from all media and cultures, arguably one of the best collections in the country.

“She has far exceeded the ‘norms’ of her job description, making the Department of Visual Arts an exciting place to be,” says Art History Professor Kathryn Brush. “I am certainly not the only person at Western who has profited over the years from Brenda’s creative and collaborative thinking.”

In the early 1990s, when the John Labatt Visual Arts Building was conceived, it was MacEachern who largely designed the layout of the new library. It has since been ranked by the Visual Resources Association as one of the 10 most beautiful visual resources facilities in North America – and the only Canadian facility on the list.

“Everyone who is familiar with Brenda knows that she defines the success of the Ivey Library,” says Professor Sonia Halpern, Department of Women’s Studies and Feminist Research. “She creates powerful memories for those who have sought her daily assistance.”

MacEachern, a recipient of numerous awards recognizing her commitment to Western, is now initiating and implementing a digital assets management system for teaching and research.

“Faculty, staff and students in the Visual Arts Department have been congratulating me about receiving this award,” says an overwhelmed MacEachern.

“It's created an upbeat atmosphere in the Department especially since our caretaker, Ivan (Celic), won the award last year. It is truly an honour to be recognized by the university community.

Paul Poppy -  Keyboard Technician, Don Wright Faculty of Music

There is no length to which Paul Poppy will not go to ensure students, staff or faculty are taken care off – from the regular attention paid to the many keyboards in the faculty even to loaning students much needed furniture upon their arrival.

Poppy's primary focus is the "care and feeding" of a growing collection of period instruments including harpsichords, clavichords and fortepianos. Music Performance Studies Professor Sandra Mangsen says Poppy’s expertise with historical keyboard instruments has allowed for early music instruction at Western.

From his early arrival on campus to tune pianos, to the many deeds that are not “in his job description” – such as driving to Montreal in an ice storm to pick up an instrument – Poppy is recognized as someone who quietly does what needs to be done.

“My life as a professor in the Music faculty is made much richer and infinitely more pleasant with Paul on hand,” says Mangsen. “He is unfailingly polite, friendly and ready to help in whatever way he can. He is one of our treasures.”

Attentive to others’ needs, Poppy was caught him off guard in receiving the Award of Excellence.

“I wasn't even aware that the selection process was taking place,” admits Poppy. “It is extremely gratifying to know the work we do is appreciated by the students and faculty. To make the music faculty work the way it does requires a lot of cooperation between staff, students and faculty members.”

In addition, Poppy maintains an active private client list as well as keeping his hand in performing as music director and organist of Bishop Cronyn Church in London.

Iain Smith - Liaison Officer, Registrarial Services

It’s not just fellow co-workers who like to sing the praises of Iain Smith – it’s students, parents, guidance counselors and others alike.

As Liaison Officer in the Registrar’s office, Smith is sometimes one of the first contacts potential students have with Western. There have been countless times when Smith’s knowledge, enthusiasm, humour, commitment and dedication have been the deciding factor in a young student’s life.

“My son was at a crossroads between a small U.S. school . where he had a scholarship, and Western,” says Sandra McCulloch. “He (Iain) left Sean and me feeling confident that the students really matter at Western. Sean has chosen Western and I believe it is in large part because of the discussion we had with Iain.”

Marilyn Nash, Team Leader for Undergraduate Recruitment, says Smith’s role as mentor and ambassador lets students understand what the best student experience means even before they set foot on campus.

But he also plays a major role in assisting fellow co-workers.

“He has shepherded many new staff through a rigorous training process, taught them to be themselves and ultimately instilled in them confidence in their own abilities,” says Nash. “He leaves a positive and long-lasting impression with everyone. He is a wonderful colleague and friend and has made a difference in the lives of many.”

Smith said the people he works and deals with make his job enjoyable.

“It's not the kind of thing I think about on a daily basis, but it's always nice to be appreciated,” he says. “I believe we all come to work to do the best we can, and to find out that we can have a positive impact and make a difference in others' lives - it is really satisfying.”

Deborah Smith - Department of French Studies

“Heart and soul.”

“Unfailing excellence.”

“Contagious enthusiasm.”

These are just some of the words friends and colleagues use to describe Deborah Smith. With the Department of French Studies for more than 30 years, Smith’s “magic touch” has touched many lives.

French Studies Chair Jeff Tennant says Smith’s impeccable organization and keen analytical skills are sincerely appreciated in the department. However, it’s her human side that really makes her an outstanding staff member.

“She is always there for people, to give a listening ear when they have problems, be they work-related or personal,” says Tenant. “You have her full attention when you enter her office.”

Part-time instructor Sherri Clendinning agrees. It was Smith, she feels, who got her and other graduate students through to the end of their schooling.

“She was our anchor when we felt overwhelmed by the struggles and obstacles,” says Clendinning. “She makes each person she comes in contact with feel important and that they matter.”

Smith was deeply touched by the nomination and honoured to be chosen.

“For me, this award is confirmation that I have succeeded with my goal: each and every day I set out to do the best job that I can and I try to make everyone's life a bit easier,” says Smith. “My focus is always to treat people the way that I would like to be treated. It's pretty easy, actually.”

Smith is quick to turn the award back on the Department of French Studies.

“I am thrilled to have been chosen, but I feel that this award should be shared with my co-workers and chair of our department,” she says, adding she couldn’t imagine working elsewhere. “It takes a team to make everything work and that is what we have in our department.”

2006 recipients of The Western Award of Excellence

  • Ivan Celic 
  • Bill Cox
  • Jeni Duro
  • David Mills
  • Sherri Moore
  • Jeannie Taylor
  • Western Heads East Team