University of Manitoba - Human Resources - Learning and Organizational Development - Awards of Excellence For Support Staff 2007 Recipients
Awards of Excellence For Support Staff 2007 Recipients

President's Award Recipient

A of X 07 Brian


Brian Rivers
Physical Plant

Brian Rivers is the 2007 winner of this pre-eminent award of excellence for support staff. Brian has been with the university for twenty-one years, for the last nine as the Director of Physical Plant, leading almost 400 staff. During his tenure Brian and his team have played a key role in supporting and facilitating the university’s strategic objectives under very demanding conditions. Brian’s calm, reasoned, collegial, and consultative approach is much appreciated, during daily challenges and in stressful situations.

The last several years have seen the most significant facility construction at the university since the 1960s. Over $128 million in construction and renovation projects have been successfully completed during Brian’s term as director. These projects were often completed with budgetary constraints that demanded that Brian and his team be innovative and extremely well organized.

Brian has been an ardent champion of environmental sustainability, leading initiatives also saving the university hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. These innovative techniques were recognized with the Energy User News Efficient Building Award in 2000, the CAUBO Quality and Productivity 3rd Place Award for recycling in 2004, and the 2007 Wesco Lighting Award for the use of efficient lighting systems. Brian has also championed several ongoing continuous improvement initiatives to ensure that physical plant is constantly evolving to offer its services as efficiently as possible.

Brian’s impact on the university is best summed up by one of the letters of support that were sent in with his nomination “My experience with Brian is that he performs a huge range of duties with an unquestionable dedication, sense of integrity, personal accountability, and professionalism that warrants the recognition of this prestigious award.” Brian personifies the attributes that the President’s award was developed to celebrate. Through a period of tremendous change at our university, he has shown outstanding dedication, leadership, and commitment to service.

Leadership Award Recipients

A of X Dan

Dan Hiebert
Administrative Systems

Dan was the project manager for the implementation of Aurora Student. In this role, Dan coordinated the many resources working on this large and complicated project.  Dan’s initiative, problem solving skills, and organizational skills were critical. During the implementation, Dan’s energy, enthusiasm, and communication skills brought together many different groups from throughout the university.

Any project this complex and far reaching introduces a great deal of change and challenge. Dan worked tirelessly at building a collaborative, solution-orientated team. Despite unexpected technical glitches, sudden changes in staffing, and limited resources, Dan created an open environment that supported project staff in taking on new challenges and responsibilities.

Aurora Student will continue to be developed and refined over time as new modules are introduced and new services offered. This is possible only because of the critical ground work done by the implementation team, with Dan’s leadership.

A of X Nancy

Nancy Klos
Office of Research Services

Nancy leads teams of administrative staff and researchers through the often complex award submission process, resulting in many successful national individual awards and institutional submissions. Nancy often acts as an ambassador for the university with a number of affiliated institutions both provincially and federally. She also plays a critical role in administering the various awards, drawing together teams from the researcher’s department, purchasing, finance and legal counsel to resolve issues as they arise.

Nancy’s creative solution-orientation and her great desire to see university researchers succeed in their efforts have been the driving force behind many successful applications:  “her energy and excitement are infectious.” This contributes positively to our researchers’ morale and to our university’s profile regarding innovative research. Nancy works tirelessly with new researchers to help them achieve success as they begin their careers in an extremely competitive research environment.

The university has made great gains in this competitive environment because of Nancy’s efforts. As one researcher stated “The results of Nancy’s dedication and professionalism are stunning. The amount of research dollars obtained by the Faculty of Medicine has risen from $45 million in 1999 to $89 million in 2005.”

A of X 07 Marvin

Marvin Kocay
Administrative Systems

Marvin has provided overall leadership for the largest information technology renewal project in the history of the university: the move of six core systems off an aging mainframe. Marvin’s leadership skills enabled this initiative to be completed successfully and within budget, developing a new technical infrastructure for the university to provide services in new and innovative ways both now and in the future.

Marvin led his own IST team plus stakeholders from various units with a team approach focusing a sense of purpose on the greater good of the university. Marvin also took lessons learned from early parts of the project and applied them to subsequent phases, thereby continually improving the effectiveness of the initiative as it evolved. As one of the letters that supported Marvin’s nominations stated, “Marvin’s patient focus on finding positive solutions for issues confronting the project management committee has been inspiring.”

Marvin’s supporters made their case well.  “Marvin is a team leader. He is not aloof, and he doesn’t pass the buck. He’s a good listener, but he is not afraid to make tough decisions after hearing from the various interested parties. Maybe best of all, Marvin can keep his sense of humour when the going gets tough, and that for me shows a sense of balance that is the hallmark of a great leader.”

A of X 07 Gord

Gordon Pasieka
Financial Services

Gord has become synonymous with the Aurora Finance Project. Gord’s leadership role in this project was an essential part of its success. His impact is best exemplified by one of his team members: “Gord was the heart and soul of this project and for many of us he was the only inspiration we could draw on to move forward while actively working at two jobs.” 

During the implementation of Aurora Finance, “Gord was a master of coordination as he juggled the hundreds of tasks with balance and accuracy. He took ownership yet gave everyone a sense of ownership of their piece of the project. He cared about his team’s well being and constantly showed appreciation and recognition for their effort.” Gord also worked to ensure that the needs of stakeholders were taken into account throughout the project. His focus on the stakeholders' input started with the vendor selection and has lasted right through to the refinements that are being introduced to the system as it continues to evolve.

Gord’s impact is best summed up in a letter of support: “Gord deserves to be recognized not only for his leadership of the Aurora Finance project but for his everyday leadership within Financial Services. He sets the standard for hard work and professionalism by his own example and promotes a respectful, hospitable work environment. He is an excellent manager and a true leader.”

Service Award Recipients

A of X Terry

Terri Garner
Department of Animal Science

Terri is a technician with the Department of Animal Science, ensuring that experimental techniques and procedures are carried out correctly and excellent animal care is maintained.

She has been indispensable for faculty and researchers engaged in ruminant animal research and teaching. Her enthusiasm for her work has had a real impact on the students that she trains and supervises. Her dedication to the department’s research is outstanding. As one researcher stated, “Despite the long days and unusual hours that are sometimes associated with field research, Terri always ensures that each task is brought to a successful conclusion, regardless of the hour of the day.”

Terri is continually building on her wealth of knowledge in ruminant production systems, trying new techniques to ensure effective scientific research and to improve the comfort of the animals. Because of her enthusiasm, knowledge, and communication skills, Terri has been in great demand to do presentations to groups from local schools, mini-university and alumni. Thus, Terri has become an ambassador for the animal science education and research programs, imparting her enthusiasm for animal science research to future generations of students and researchers.

A of X Louise

Louise Graham
Faculty of Education

Louise serves as a coordinator of student and administrative services for the graduate and Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Education (PBDE) programs in the Faculty of Education. In this role, she exemplifies the highest attributes of professionalism and excellence in her work with students, faculty and staff. She frequently goes beyond the call of duty to assist students. As one of her colleagues stated in her nomination: “Louise always puts students first and, consequently, students are both comfortable and confident in meeting her, because they know that she is always working in their best interests.” Louise is also a constant collaborator with other faculties and units to ensure that the services offered to students are as effective as possible.

When anyone in Education - student, faculty, or staff member - has a question, he or she can be reassured that Louise Graham will have the answer. Louise has smoothed out many a difficult day for people with her contacts and strong institutional knowledge. In her 34 years of service, she has developed a thorough knowledge of university policies and program intricacies that she uses to provide effective and caring service.

Louise also embraces new ideas and techniques, supporting her colleagues as they learn new systems like Aurora Student. Perhaps Louise’s contribution is best summed up by one of her nominators: “Louise’s patience, perseverance and reassuring attitude make her a hero among the Faculty of Education family members. We all hope that Louise never retires from Education!”

A of X Lawrence

Lawrence Grimshire
Central Zone, Physical Plant

Lawrence (Larry) Grimshire is a member of the Caretaking Services, Physical Plant team that maintains the Russell and Architecture 2 buildings. Over the last several years Larry has provided outstanding service in what were, at times, difficult circumstances. Before and after the refurbishment of the Russell Building, Larry worked diligently to effect a smooth transition between vacating the building and returning to it. His efforts were critical in helping many get through this stressful time. Larry is also part of the faculty's “quick response team” which can be called at any hour of the day or night to address issues like flooding. Larry is often one of the first on the scene.

Larry stays on top of events and projects and anticipates the faculty’s needs. He is always there to offer a helping hand. His friendly, considerate manner starts the day off right for the many staff and students that he greets, often by name, in the halls. Larry also acts as a mentor with new custodial staff in the area to ensure that high maintenance standards are maintained throughout the faculty. Given the sensitivity and volume of materials used by students for projects, it’s often difficult for the custodial staff to do their work effectively. Larry’s patient and understanding ways and his work ethic has him dealing effectively with these challenges.

All this has earned Larry an important place in the faculty as part of the “Architecture Team.” This recently became abundantly clear when Physical Plant was considering reallocating its staff around the university. Architecture immediately contacted Larry’s supervisor to let him know that Larry played far too vital a role with the faculty for him to be moved.


Dr. Kirk Marat
Department of Chemistry

Kirk is the manager of the Chemistry department’s nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) facilities. In organic chemistry these facilities are the single most important tool for structural analysis and also play an important role in other aspects of chemistry. Kirk’s expertise is a tremendous asset to researchers and students. He ensures an exceptional level of service including providing hands-on training for undergraduate and graduate students, post-docs, and research associates. In his efforts to support research at the university, Kirk has authored a software application which he has made freely available to assist researchers around the world in the interpretation of the results of NMR experiments.

Kirk has also shown a great deal of initiative and creativity in maintaining all three NMR instruments, some of which are valued at over 3 million dollars, operating at optimal performance levels. He repairs and rebuilds NMR probes as needed, minimizing instrument downtime. Under Kirk’s attention these instruments, some of which are over 25 years old, are kept up and running. Kirk is also constantly reviewing scientific literature to discover new techniques and applications in NMR spectroscopy. His findings are then used to assist researchers to further their research with the latest methodology.

Kirk’s contribution is best summed up by one of the researchers that his NMR facility supports: “In my experience at some of the best academic institutions across Canada and in the United States, I have never encountered a more skilled and versatile NMR laboratory manager. Dr Marat loves NMR spectroscopy. His enthusiasm for the field translates directly into a high level of service excellence and efficiency. I have the utmost respect for Kirk, and am tremendously grateful for how his reliability aids my research and keeps this vital analytical facility operating at optimal capacity.”

Team Award Recipients

A of X Auroa Fin

Aurora Finance Implementation Team

The Aurora Finance Implementation Team has 34 members from four different university departments and several external agencies. This team implemented a large, complex financial system which had an impact right across the university. This implementation involved replacing the legacy, mainframe-based financial systems with more than nine new modules which dealt with the many different types of financial transactions that take place at the university. This project involved the development and testing of over 60 different interfaces and of supporting users in learning the new system.

The team dealt with the complexity of the project and the many challenging change issues to successfully achieve the goal of implementing the new system. They did this by being positive, solution-oriented, collaborative and working very hard. Since the system has gone live, the team has set up 1,700 user IDs, processed 30,000 journal entries, had over 2,500 participants in training sessions, and taken 2,500 Help Desk calls. The Aurora Finance system has been well received on campus as a result of their efforts.

One of the supporting letters best summed up why the team was so successful: “Team members were available to help us with all of our questions, with one-on-one training when required, and to hold our hands through the steep learning curve we all experienced. They did all this when their own work was piled high, when they hadn’t had a day off in weeks. We would never even know they were dealing with their own stresses. They acted as the ultimate professionals.”