Winners of the Principal’s Award – Administrative and Support Staff

Posted on Tuesday, December 17, 2013
SummaryPrincipal's Prize - admin & support (1)2013

Award Winners (L-R): Martha Robinson, Evie Cavis, Walter Kucharski and Victor Black

Outstanding employees honoured

Recipients of the Principal’s Award for Administrative and Support Staff for 2012-2013 were invited to accept their award at the convocation ceremony that took place on November 25, at Place des Arts.  Among the 30 nomination forms submitted to Human Resources in June, the winners were selected in five categories for their outstanding contribution to their units.

This year’s winners are Evie Cavis (clerical), Martha Robinson (management and professional), Victor Black (trades and services), Walter Kucharski (technical and libraries) and (in the team category) the Preferred First Name project which included Enrolment Services, IT Services and the SEDE Office, with 17 team members. To find out more about the award and the selection criteria, click here.

Victor Black, Electrician, South East District (downtown campus), Facilities Operations and Development – Category:  Trades and Services

Victor Black always has a positive attitude at work and takes pride in providing professional services.  Victor constantly brings new technical ideas to improve McGill’s electrical system and to make it safer. He has contributed several valid suggestions to make the University’s fire protection system more efficient and reliable.

Victor is generous about transferring his knowledge and professional experience to a young electrician who has been working with him for several years.  Victor’s “joie de vivre” is contagious say his colleagues.  He puts a smile on everyone’s face when he is around.

Being recognized by his peers for his competence and cooperation, some engineering professors recently asked Victor to give a seminar to McGill students to explain and demystify the complexity of electricity. The seminar was a great success.

One of Victor’s supporters for the Principal’s award is Avi Friedman, professor of architecture, who has known Victor for 25 years. He credits Victor for resolving electrically related technical problems with care and generosity of spirit.

A person like Victor is essential because he knows where to locate breakers, switches and motors – not always easy to locate in old buildings.  The Department of Chemistry’s building director says they are fortunate to have someone like Victor to keep the Otto Maass and the Pulp & Paper buildings running smoothly, 24 hours a day … and rising to the challenge whenever a problem emerges.

« I am in my 39th year at McGill.  I am honoured to receive this award. Knowing that I am valued by my colleagues is a great feeling,” said Victor.

Evie Cavis, Customer Service Assistant, Parking Services – Category:  Clerical

Evie Cavis consistently develops a good rapport when interacting with clients, which results in a more personal experience for clients and improved quality of parking services. Her organizational skills and attention to detail are a few of the many qualities that illustrate her work ethic.

Evie goes beyond what is required of her to ensure that clients are kept up-to-date on changes in parking on campus. She is keen on using web technology such as Google Maps on the parking services website, as it can be tailored to events like major conferences.  She relies on Twitter feeds to notify clients of changes in routes because of road work around campus.

Evie has become an integral part of the convocation team, helping to find parking for mobility challenged family members during convocation.  Her initiative, flexibility and strong interpersonal skills contribute to effective teamwork, even as she often faces considerable time pressures.  Colleagues agree that her professionalism and strong work ethic result in loyalty and support from colleagues who have only positive things to say about her.

Evie is not one to get flustered or frustrated no matter how annoying or complicated the situation. She comes up with creative solutions and presents them in a way that empowers her co-workers. Others have been quick to point out that she is a joy to work with, always efficient, courteous and reliable adding that parking at McGill becomes “almost a pleasure” thanks to Evie and her team.

Says Evie: “On finding out I won the award, I was extremely happy. It was a wonderful surprise. I work with a great team of colleagues. What I really like about my work is the interface I have with clients coming from out of town for tests and surgery at the Neuro. I try to ease the process of parking on campus.” One colleague observed that she does it in a way that makes clients feel calm and comfortable rather than upset and frustrated”.

Walter Kucharski, Shop Coordinator, Aerospace Medical Research Unit – Category:  Technical and Libraries

Walter Kucharski designs and constructs precision equipment. His colleagues credit him for finding novel solutions to the broad range of difficult mechanical problems in the unit’s laboratories.  Walter works quickly and skillfully to bring his colleagues’ ideas to life.  His innovative contributions have included NASA flight certified equipment. In fact, at one point during the Space Shuttle program, Walter was one of only a few Canadian technicians certified to build flight hardware for NASA, and he was a regular consultant to the Canadian Space Agency.

Walter is an exceptional team worker.  When developing a project, he will take the initiative to improve design whenever possible. As a result, the performance of much of his colleagues’ laboratory infrastructure exceeds original expectations and provides a strong foundation for novel progressive research.  Walter impresses colleagues with his ability to complete multiple tasks despite the pressure of many and often overlapping deadlines.

In his endorsement of Walter’s nomination for the Principal’s award, one associate professor characterized him as McGill’s mythical « Q » of the James Bond movies – he designs and builds all the amazing gadgets for which academics get all the credit.

Throughout his 34-year career at McGill, Walter has contributed countless hours of his own time to develop new approaches to further the research within his unit, the department and the university.  He provides a vital service to our community through training of our graduate students and postdocs.

“I was surprised and somewhat uneasy about winning, knowing that I am definitely not alone in going the extra mile.  Often, I work on the weekend to build devices only because my work shop at home is better equipped. In my work, my focus is on graduate students, making sure they are well equipped to do their job. That is what is most important to me,” said Walter.

Martha Robinson, Supervisor, Maintenance, Facilities Operations and Development – Category:  Management and Excluded

Had it not been for Martha Robinson’s quick thinking on January 28, 2013, the flood that ravaged parts of McGill’s downtown campus would have been an even greater disaster. Her efforts to coordinate insurance adjustors, cleaning crews, reconstruction crews, suppliers, teachers, researchers and administrative staff, the University would not have recuperated as swiftly and, in appearance, as effortlessly as we have.  Her dedication, extra time and effort, and her constant presence on campus have been instrumental in ensuring a speedy recovery.

The University was under emergency conditions. Martha’s dedication and commitment allowed units such as Service Point, Libraries, the faculties of Arts and Religious Studies, among others, to avoid the interruption of services, classes, weddings and student theatre productions, as well as trying to replace lost costumes and props. She showed excellent teamwork by keeping all of the different trades and departments on task and on schedule. With contractors, she was attentive to high quality work with the least number of errors, to manage costs.

Martha is in her 26th year at McGill. She is often solicited for her expert advice on roofs, insurance claims, computerized maintenance management systems and her general knowledge of our campuses.  This knowledge was pivotal in our confrontation with the major flood, as millions of liters of water were flowing through campus. She guided the first rescue efforts just as she is guiding the last salvage efforts almost a year later. She made a remarkable contribution in the face of exceptionally difficult circumstances.

Martha’s thoughts on winning the award: «I received a message from the Principal,

thinking it was one of her general messages.  When I realized it was addressed only to me, I was elated and humbled at the same time. I love my job and when I saw the first signs of flooding, my first thoughts were to minimize disruption of people’s time at work.”

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