Going the extra mile for students
Dal staffers recognized for "going above and beyond."
Marilyn Smulders - June 10, 2011
Claire Chisholm makes it a point to memorize the names of all incoming students to her department. Donna Edwards came up with the idea of sending a letter of congratulations to students who achieved an A in first and second-year classics classes. Gretchen Smith added homey decor touches to the learning centre in the Chase Building, creating a warm and inviting space that students truly love. And Sara Faridi, graduate coordinator in the Department of Math and Stats, devised a student handbook to help students navigate through a myriad of administrative details.
Usually working in the background, the four Dal staffers were brought into the spotlight at the Rosemary Gill Award reception and thanked for “going above and beyond,” according to Bonnie Neuman, Vice-President, Student Services. The reception took place earlier this week in the Victorian Lounge of Shirreff Hall.
"Kind," "caring," "sincere"
Named in memory of the Rosemary Gill, a former director of Dalhousie Health Services, the award was established to recognize deserving university employees who provide outstanding service to students. All recipients are nominated by members of the university community and voted on by a committee of students and administrators.
Kind, caring and sincere were the adjectives used again and again to describe the women, who together represent more than 100 years of service to Dalhousie.
Working as an administrative assistant in the Department of Process Engineering and Applied Science, Faculty of Engineering, Claire Chisholm was portrayed by her nominators as an oasis of calm for students, who respond readily to her warm smile and words of encouragement. They appreciate that she knows their name.
““It’s a big university and it’s so important that students don’t feel like a number,” explained Ms. Chisholm, who arrived at the reception with a full cheering section from Sexton campus.
Also arriving with a contingent of fans, Donna Edwards is the administrative secretary for the Department of Classics and has also worked in the Dean’s Office (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences) and in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology. While Ms. Chisholm was characterized as the “heart of Dalhousie,” Ms. Edwards was called “the backbone.” “Donna makes university life easier,” said one of her student nominators.
'A great honor'
Ms. Edwards said receiving the Rosemary Gill Award means a lot to her. “You’re nominated by the people you work with everyday,” she said. “It’s a great honor.”
Students are in good hands in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, which sent two award winners to the reception: Professor Sara Faridi and longtime administrator Gretchen Smith, who has worked at Dalhousie for 43 years. Ms. Smith works diligently to foster a supportive environment for students; this year, she sourced out quiet rooms students could study in while construction in the Chase Building was going on.
“It is wonderful that students notice and appreciate what you do,” says Ms. Smith. “And it feels nice to feel appreciated by colleagues and friends.”