DPMG Award

The DPMG Award recognizes employees who belong to the Dalhousie Professional and Managerial Group (DPMG) for their exemplary contributions to the university.

All DPMG members (excluding members of the DPMG Executive) are eligible to receive this award and can be nominated by any faculty or staff member. DPMG members previously nominated can be nominated again. 

Selection criteria

  • High and consistent performance
  • New approaches and initiatives
  • Impact on the university community
  • Alignment with organizational missions, vision and values
  • Positive influence and leadership

2024 DPMG Award Nomination Forms

*CLOSED* 2024 Award for Outstanding Achievement (Early-career, career, and long-service) 


Nominations (IDDEA only) are due Monday, April 15, 2024 at 4:30pm. 

Submit packages to dpmg@dal.ca

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Celebrating our 2023 Award nominees and winners


Meet our 2022 Award winners:

COVID-19 Pandemic Award


For being a composed leader and keeping staff safety and animal welfare a top priority during the pandemic, it is a pleasure to announce Jean Lynds (Operations Manager, Farms, Faculty of Agriculture) as a recipient of the 2022 DPMG COVID-19 Outstanding Achievement Award.

Jean’s demonstrated leadership was witnessed in more than when leading the Faculty of Agriculture (FOA) through the many day-to-day operations during the pandemic. For example:

·   She led the FOA group through countless projects and renovations, such as the completion of the new feed facility for the Ruminant Animal Centre and the consultation process to design a new dairy facility.

·   She was successful in working through new internal hiring processes for essential services and on-site positions, keep staff and animals safe and keep five distinct work units informed and engaged in the day-to-day operations and linking them into the larger Farm goals.

According to Dr. David Gray (Dean, Faculty of Agriculture & Campus Principal):Jean Lynds is the personification of everything good and positive in modern agriculture and we could not ask for a better role model and example of leadership for our students and campus community.  Jean and her team have worked tireless with faculty members throughout the pandemic to create videos and online teaching activities and created two separate staff teams to minimise potential cross-infection while keeping an operating farm running.  In the last ten years, I have personally lost count of the number of times that Jean has been nominated for the DASA Student Appreciation Award, including during the pandemic.”

As stated in summary by her nominator, Michael McConkey (Programs & Finance Manager, Farm, Faculty of Agriculture): “Jean has displayed exemplary leadership and resilience and I believe that the FOA is coming out the end of the pandemic as a much stronger team because of it.”



For his professionalism, leadership and guidance, along with his unconditional care and compassion for students and staff during the pandemic, it is a pleasure to announce Said Msabaha (Associate Director, Community Engagement and Diversity Programs & Immigration Advisor, Office of Community Partnerships & Global Health) as a recipient of the 2022 DPMG COVID-19 Outstanding Achievement Award.

During the unprecedented times of 2021, international students had suffered significant financial and emotional burdens while attempting to make their way back to Halifax. And with the implementation of a 14-day quarantine, it had created an even greater stressful environment for both international students and staff at the International Center (IC).  But it was Said’s demonstrated examples of leadership that afforded students hope and IC staff to persevere. For instance:

·     Said led a small team of eight colleagues from the IC who were tasked with accommodating 5000 international students through a safe return.  Throughout this process, Said would also often step into various roles away from his managerial position, which involved him having administrative, advisory, coordinator, food service and “check in clerk” responsibilities.

·     Regardless of how busy IC was, Said was always willing to help. It was not abnormal to see him set his tasks aside and place them on hold, so that he could listen and provide the support that many of IC’s international students needed.

According to Qiuling Wu (International Student Advisor, International Centre): “When the federal and provincial governments started to allow IC’s 5000 international students to travel to Canada under strict testing and quarantine conditions, Said worked in collaboration with partners both on and off campus to assist with port of entry, finding enough hotel rooms in Halifax, airport pick-ups and even student frustrations. He would even volunteer to go to the airport to spend 12 to 18 hours a day to greet students at the airport and make sure their taxi and hotel arrangements were in place. It was a true demonstration of leadership through compassion and grace.”

As summarized best by his nominator, Jessica Kerr (Admin Assistant for A Black People’s History of Canada, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences): “Without Said’s overall leadership and guidance, our international students and the IC staff would not have achieved the level of success that we did.”






For her leadership and problem-solving skills along with her resilience and ability to adapt during the pandemic, it is a pleasure to announce Emma Whitley (Clinical Coordinator, School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Health) as a recipient of the 2022 DPMG COVID-19 Outstanding Achievement Award.

Emma has consistently demonstrated herself as a leader with an aptitude at finding solutions to sudden and unique problems over the past two years. For example:

·     When working with Catherine Gunn and NS Health, Emma was instrumental in ensuring students had access to vaccines prior to their rescheduled spring placements. By coordinating with clinical sites all over Atlantic Canada, she was able to ensure all students would either be vaccinated prior to or immediately upon arrival at their assigned placement.

·     When many students not only had to isolate prior to starting their placement in another province, but again when they returned to Nova Scotia, Emma kept on top of, and worked within, every regulation for NB, NL, and PEI as well as NS. This while simultaneously providing timely and clear communications to all students and often their concerned parents.


According to Meaghan Mamye (Adjunct Lecturer, School of Health Sciences): “Emma is a guiding light at the School of Health Services (SHS). She goes above and beyond for students, faculty, and staff, and does so with a tirelessly positive attitude. During the global pandemic, it was integral for Emma to stay abreast of all the changes and policies not just within our organizations but with all our clinical partners, such as IWK Health, and many organizations in PEI, NB, and NL. And when knowing that our students would be actively practicing aerosol-generating medical procedures within inpatient care environments with COVID-1 9, she worked nights, weekends, and holidays to ensure that HHS students received appropriate mask fit tests for N-95 masks to ensure their safety.”

As described best by her nominator, Catherine Gunn (Director, School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Health): “Emma joined us when we needed her most, and I’m certain we would not have been so successful in navigating the pandemic without her.”

Early Career Award


For leading a highly productive and innovative team and for leading many innovations that translate into a better student and Faculty experience, it is a pleasure to announce Stephanie Bernier (Educational Developer, Faculty of Computer Science) as a recipient of the 2022 DPMG Early Career Outstanding Achievement Award.

Stephanie has demonstrated a consistent record of high-quality work in her primary role as an educational developer. For example:

·     She has recently co-authored a paper on how educators are adopting technology in teaching and learning. The dataset came from her prior employment’s environment, but the impact of this work is felt in the Faculty of Computer Science’s own practice.

·     She led the innovation of an FCS course template that is used by most FCS to structure courses on Brightspace.

With a high level of autonomy, the pedagogical landscape in the FCS has changed since Stephanie has joined the FCS team.  For example:

·     Stephanie is an active member of the Educational Developers of Halifax, an informal group who meets regularly and creates local and regional connections. This aligns with the broader regional mission of the FCS and Dalhousie University.

·     She is also a member of Dal’s eLearning community of practice, the Academic Quality Team (AQT). Her participation in the AQT is strategically important to FCS and benefits the University by sharing lessons learned.

As best described by Corey DeGagne and Robert Hawkey (Instructors, Faculty of Comuter Science) and Raghav V. Sampangi (Senior Instructor, Faculty of Computer Science): “Stephanie’s contributions to FCS have been immeasurable. While collaboration within the Faculty on aspects of teaching was reasonable earlier, her work has been the main reason why we have now become a much more collaborative group of teachers. She built collaborative relationships with everyone and opened our eyes to teaching best practices and evidence-based methods that has resulted in our teaching in the Faculty to reach much higher standards.”

As summarized by her nominator, Alexander Brodsky (Academic Teaching Fellow and Associate Dean (acting), Faculty of Computer Science): “Ms. Bernier’s contributions since she joined Dalhousie in 2019 have been transformative.”



For starting, developing and promoting the new Melda Murray Student Centre (MMSC) and for being inclusive and welcoming, it is a pleasure to announce Brooke Edwards (Director of the Melda Murray Student Centre, Faculty of Engineering) as a recipient of the 2022 DPMG Early Career Outstanding Achievement Award.

When Brooke joined the Faculty of Engineering (FOE), the MMSC was only a proposal in the Dean’s mind after a generous gift from a donor to establish a means to support struggling students, but because of Brooke’s tremendous leadership skills, it is now one of the “flagship” elements in FOE’s student support programs.

As stated best by Dr. David J. Pilon (Student Health & Wellness): “Brooke has been a champion of students on Sexton Campus and has been a tireless advocate to assemble an array of supports to help Engineering students be successful in what is known to be a challenging academic program.”

Career Award


For his 14 years of exemplary service, consistent high performance and for having a collaborative and inclusive approach to leadership, is it a pleasure to announce Ian Taylor (Director, MedIT) as a recipient of the 2022 DPMG Outstanding Achievement Award.

Ian’s advocacy for technology to support learning and ability to deliver large scale projects go as far back to when he started his journey in 2008 as an AV Technician with Information Technology Services (ITS). For example:

·     From in 2009 when he achieved the implementation of required technology in temporary spaces for Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick (DMNB) in preparation for the launch of the DMNB distributed  learning  program.

·     To in 2011, when as technical Operations Manager, he oversaw the complete roll out of  Dalhousie  Medicine  distributed  learning throughout  Atlantic Canada.

Ian  has  always  been  a  champion  for  technology  and  innovation,  but  it  is  his  people-centred approach that speaks  to  an  individual  who  has  made a  significant contribution to the Dalhousie community.  For example:

·     In 2016, when he advanced to the position of Co-director of MedIT, he collaborated  with the late Ryan Clow to create the departmental vision ‘OneMedIT’ and a mission statement that aligned with the Faculty of Medicine and University strategic initiatives.  And in 2021, when he stepped into the role of Director and demonstrated  mindful  leadership  following the pandemic and the loss of MedIT’s Co-director.

According to Linda Penny (Chief Operating Officer, Faculty of Medicine): “one of Ian’s most notable achievements was his leadership in the Faculty’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through tremendous determination and effort, the MedIT team was able to compress all four years of undergraduate medical education curriculum online in a matter of weeks. Ian’s calm and thoughtful approach was key in reassuring students, Faculty, and staff during a period of great uncertainty. He continues to be a role model to all in how to deal with stressful situations.”

Ian’s attributes and personalized approach to leadership is appreciated by his team members and colleagues.  As stated best by his nominator, Charles Currie (Manager, Distributed Education Technologies): “Ian has been a mentor who has always encouraged and supported my professional development and shown a confidence in my abilities even when I have doubted them. While it is my name attached to this letter for nomination, it could easily be any of my MedIT colleagues, as they would attest to a similar experience.”



For building and leading the Brand and Recruitment Marketing team and for leading Dalhousie’s Brand Refresh Project and project strategy, it is a pleasure to announce Julie Hallett (Associate Director, Brand & Marketing, Communications, Marketing and Creative Services) as a recipient of the 2022 DPMG Outstanding Achievement Award.

Julie has demonstrated a high and consistent performance while simultaneously maintaining relationships through meaningful engagement and communication across campus. For example:

·        She was a key member who supported the Faculty of Computer Science and led vital elements of a campaign that surpassed media targets on behalf of the ‘Here We Code’ project.   Julie played a key role in the video creation and strategic plan by working with NATIONAL PR and a cross-campus advisory committee.

·        Within the past year, she successfully onboarded an agency partner, engaged with stakeholders and created a project advisory team to guide the brand refresh project and is currently working with both the Indigenous and African Nova Scotian communities to commission art pieces to be used as a part of the university’s brand.

According to Matt Proctor (Assistant Vice-President, Communications, Marketing & Creative Services): “Julie’s contributions to Dalhousie’s brand and recruitment strategies are highlighted through her critical thinking, innovative ideas, and active listening. She effortlessly understands the institution’s various audiences, such that she’s able to deliver ideas and rationale in a confident, reassuring, and inspiring manner. Julie is also a wonderful people leader who now develops and coaches a team of four talented individuals who are also achieving extraordinary accomplishments for the institution - together with the Registrar’s Office and the Office of Global and Government Relations they have achieved record student enrolment of approximately 21,000 students in this latest academic year – a new Dalhousie record.”

Julie’s leadership, hard work, dedication, and strategic nature is what makes her an incredible asset to CMC and to the University. As articulated best by her nominator, Keri Irwin (Director of Marketing, Communications, Marketing and Creative Services): “Julie has consistently considered the big picture.”



For serving Dalhousie for nearly 40 years and for her administrative rigour, energy and joviality, it is a pleasure to announce Leslie Brechin (Administrative Office, Academic and Productions, Fountain School of Performing Arts) as a recipient of the 2022 DPMG Outstanding Achievement Award.

Lesley is one of the administrative pillars of the creation of the Fountain School of Performing Arts. And just as she is set to retire, FASS’s brand-new Joseph Strug Concert Hall will finally be inaugurated; Lesley has been actively involved in every step of the way leading to this important moment in history. As stated best by Professor Steven Baur (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences): “Lesley has been the heart, soul, and engine that has kept the Fountain School of Performing Arts running since its founding in 2014 and the Department of Music before that, since becoming the Administrative Officer for our unit.”

IDDEA Outstanding Achievement Award


For her leadership in being a champion for all women in Engineering and for championing outreach to Indigenous and Black Nova Scotia students, it is a pleasure to announce Karyn Hemsworth (Coordinator of Engineering Student Engagement, Faculty of Engineering) for the 2022 DPMG IDDEA Outstanding Achievement Award.

Karyn’s scope of work goes well beyond championing and being a strong voice for diversity of thought and representation in Engineering.  For example:

·   She supports the organization of the annual Dec 6th Memorial of the Ecole Polytechnique shooting, the ‘Go Eng Girl’ outreach activities, and when Engineers Nova Scotia sets a strategic goal of increasing the number of licensed women engineers (the 30 by 30 campaign), Karyn is the lead force from the Dalhousie side of the equation.

·   Karyn is a “train the trainer” for mental health first responders and she holds a strong seat in the Faculty’s newly formed mental health working committee. She was a thoroughly engaged, significant contributor in the recent Faculty of Engineering mental health audit and currently heads up the student facing working group on mental health awareness.

According to Amyl Ghanem (Assistant Dean, Diversity and Inclusion, Faculty of Engineering): “Karyn is an advocate for Indigenous and African Nova Scotian students in Engineering and is a very active member of the Faculty’s EDIA committee.  She is the key driving force and organizer of ‘ENGage’, a Faculty of Engineering outreach program where junior high school girls visit our campus and conduct hands-on workshops and meet with women professionals. She also heads up the Engineers NS Women in Engineering subcommittee on outreach to high school students. Anywhere there are IDDEA activities or education taking place, Karyn is not only involved but is a valued leader.”

Karen sits on Faculty, University and Provincial level committees with a strong voice for women who wish to follow an Engineering career. As per her nominator Timothy A. Little (Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Faculty of Engineering): “Karyn has a great work ethic and an open and upbeat attitude that lifts those who she works with. She leads the faculty in EDIA activities and makes the faculty a better place because of her efforts. We are very fortunate to have Karyn on the team.”



For fostering inclusion, diversity, decolonization, equity, and accessibility for not only Indigenous students at Dalhousie, but also non-Indigenous students, staff, faculty, and community members, it is a pleasure to announce Michele Graveline (Indigenous Student Advisor, Indigenous Student Centre, Student Affairs) for the 2022 DPMG IDDEA Outstanding Achievement Award.

Michele has been supporting Indigenous students in education since 2009 and does much to support students from a holistic Indigenous perspective and assist with resource and system navigation.  For example:

·   Michele has created a warm, welcoming, and safe landing place for Dalhousie’s 600 Indigenous students in a world that is built on colonial values and traditions, through holistic, culturally relevant, and educational programs. Michele further lends her expertise to many committees across campus, such as being co-lead of the Student Affairs EDIA committee and the Tuition Waiver for former children in care committee.

·   She plans and carries out culturally relevant programming for Indigenous students at the Centre, which includes Brunches and Feasts every month, celebrations and traditional craft making. She’s also organized unique and inclusive initiatives, such as a collective reading of Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the Annual Mawio’mi on campus.

According to Quenta Adams (Director, Student Service Academic Success, Student Affairs): “Michele’s work is grounded in respect and a shared responsibility for equitable access. She by nature, is an educator who endeavours to teach and model what true reconciliation looks like. True reconciliation, as a start, recognizes and addresses barriers related to access across the institution. Michele is a champion in identifying and offering solutions for systems, policies and practices that exclude Indigenous students from participation.”

As summarized best by her nominator Hazel Ling (Social Worker/Case Manager, Student Health & Wellness, Student Affairs): “Michele embodies and teaches reconciliation daily, not only by sharing her many areas of expertise, but in her warm, accepting, and compassionate approach to students, staff, and faculty.”

Previous winners

2021 Winners


Craig Arthur


COVID-19 Pandemic Award


Using his background in Engineering and working behind the scenes doing much of the heavy lifting as Environmental Health and Safety Manager, Craig was engaged since day one of the pandemic, authoring a protocol that guided the safe shutdown for the 500+ lab spaces across Dalhousie University.  As per Craig’s direct supervisor, Jerry Aguinaga, “this example is one of many I could use to demonstrate the profound affect Craig has had personally on Dalhousie’s successful COVID-19 response”.

Jerry expresses that “Craig has a unique ability to be able to clearly articulate the reality of the current state of affairs and then show a list of possible solutions and opportunities. This skill was critical during the pandemic. Craig’s influence allowed the university to operate with a view to possibilities which was vital for keeping a high moral.   On a more personal level, Craig remained a source of encouragement for my Environmental Health and Safety Team, always taking the time to reach out and check in. He definitely helped us all through this crisis.”

Craig was the key approver in the Return to Research process and has overseen process to approve thousands of applications for researchers to proceed with their critical work. Craig quickly formed a team of 5 technicians from Jerry’s team to handle the relentless stream of requests.  He was also key in the development of the “Return to Campus” and “Return to Research” protocols. It is important to note that when these protocols were written, they were not just used to open Dalhousie early on, but they were adopted by CONSUP (The Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents) and approved by the department of Labour and Advanced Education and Public Health to open all the Universities in Nova Scotia. Dalhousie received special permissions to continue critical Covid-19 related research, all based on the work Craig developed. Jerry adds that “his leadership here benefited not just Dal but all N.S Universities. Dal is seen in a very positive light from Public Health because of this early work.” 

In her letter of support, Suzie Officer, Executive Director of Planning and Strategy, Faculty of Health, describes Craig as a “valued and respected member of the Return to Campus Committee” and “has been invaluable in helping guide us (FOH) successfully through almost two full terms of F2F programming for our on-campus students (approximately 800/900 students have attended classes in person since September 2020). I know from my own frequent discussions with him that he is a professional, who is dedicated and committed to providing excellence at all times.  His attention to details and help in developing safety plans has been extraordinary.  Craig is so very deserving of the DPMG Award for the COVID category!”.


Paul Bourgeois


COVID-19 Pandemic Award

As Building Services Manager for the Faculty of Medicine Carlton Campus, Paul Bourgeois is responsible for the smooth and efficient operations of the Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building, Tupper Link, Life Sciences Research Institute, and the Clinical Research Centre. As from Dr. Roger McLeod, Associate Dean of Research, Faculty of Medicine, “in the face of an unprecedented and dynamic situation, Mr. Bourgeois had the foresight to calmly and efficiently mobilize his staff to prepare for an inevitable campus shutdown, and personally assist with several Dal Med researchers to find solutions to complex laboratory challenges in preparation for an indefinite suspension of laboratory activities. These prescient actions coupled with clear and concise communication and his diligent attention to detail were critical in our ability to safely return 81 research units to campus in July 2020. 

As further explained by Dr. MacLeod, “Paul is one of Nova Scotia’s unsung heroes in the fight to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. On December 1, 2020, Paul learned that planning was underway to receive the first test shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine. With only a week to prepare, Mr. Bourgeois assisted in securing the ultra-low temperature freezer required to store the vaccine at a vaccination clinic location in the LSRI and had also supervised the logistics of secure and effective storage of the vaccine.  His efforts were recognized by then Minister of Health and Wellness, the Honorable Leo Glavine in a letter to Dalhousie President, Dr. Deep Saini.  In his letter, Minister Glavine specifically highlighted the exceptional work of Paul and co-workers for their willingness to coordinate the use of the LSRI to store and manage the vaccine, nothing that ‘this single act brought hope to Nova Scotian’s that COVID-19 would come to an end.”

Nominator Jason Bremner, Communications Advisor, Faculty of Medicine names Paul as “the epitome of a leader who leads by doing and when the COVID-19 pandemic began, Paul approached the situation with a sense of calm that was impossible to miss.” He made it his priority to clearly communicate with all affected groups daily and offered innovative solutions at a moment’s notice.  Morale and culture can be concepts that are hard to quantify, but Paul’s dedication and hard work is infectious. The pride he takes in his work is evident in every encounter someone has with him. The preparation and training required to host the COVID-19 vaccination clinic was extensive. Without hesitation, Paul was taking online courses and training modules provided by Pfizer and the Public Health Agency of Canada on how to properly handle and receive the vaccine. This was a massive undertaking to add to his already full workload, but he did it with an enthusiasm that makes everyone proud to have the privilege to work with him. When asked about this work, he humbly said ‘I’m just really happy to be involved.’” 



Alexandra Fournier


Early Career Award


Alexandra’s (Allie’s) positive influence and leadership, her ability to maintain composure and her high levels of professionalism are just a few cited attributes that enabled Allie to pivot during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis and be nominated for her outstanding achievements.  As the Communications Coordinator at the Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick (DMNB) campus, Allie is the point-person for DMNB faculty, students and staff and she also serves as the main communications point of contact with Dalhousie in Halifax. 

During the past COVID-19 year, Allie was not only successful in coordinating the medical school program communications while simultaneously building up the DMNB Medicine Research website, but as stated by Nominator Dr. Daniel Dutton, Assistant Professor, Community Health and Epidemiology, through her “heroic efforts, Allie kept DMNB informed of university and government policies and assist with a back-to-work plan that resulted in fewer setbacks than other research outfits in the province.”

Allie planned and organized the welcome ceremony (“First Light”) in September 2020 and the graduation ceremony (”Launch”) in May 2020. For the Launch Ceremony, two months after the work-from-home mandate, Allie worked with MedIT to assemble a pre-recorded version of the ceremony to premiere on YouTube so graduates could watch it with their loved ones. For the First Light Ceremony, Allie worked within Public Health measures, put together an in-person version of the ceremony and solicited donations from New Brunswick-based companies to put together gift bags to make the incoming class feel special, despite their First Light looking different than previous years.

Dr. Dutton’s summarization of Allie’s work as “an example of constant organizational and operational renewal, a DalMedForward strategic area”, is also defended by Dr. Keith Brunt, Associate Professor, Pharmacology who states that Allie is “regarded by her colleagues as a leader’, as reflected in “her role on the Cultural Safety Committee and in her leadership in establishing and flourishing the Doctor for a Day program with Indigenous communities in New Brunswick”. 

The Cultural Safety committee is dedicated to creating an environment that is culturally safe for all members of the public and Dalhousie Community.  Conceptualized and executed on Allie’s own initiative, the Doctor for a Day at DMNB event has solidified the Cultural Safety Committee’s partnership with the Under One Sky Friendship Centre (a non-profit Indigenous Community organization), now provides a window into the medical student experience including a sharing circle with Indigenous health professionals, and allows exposure to an environment that many children this age would not otherwise have.  Affirmed by Dr. Brunt, “this event is a concrete example of dedication to the ‘Service’ area in Dalhousie’s five key strategic areas as well as the ‘Serving and Engaging Society’ pillar of the #DalMedForward strategic plan.”


Ryan Clow


Career Award

In communications to the DMPG Award Selection Committee, Nominator Ian Taylor, Director, MedIT Technology Services writes: 

“I hope that you will accept my nomination for the DPMG Award for Outstanding Achievement to be awarded, posthumously, to Ryan Clow. Ryan was the Director of MedIT Enterprise Systems and Projects, who passed away in a tragic accident on Munro Day, February 5, 2021. I do not wish to submit this nomination as a memorial, or as a gesture to a close friend who I have lost. Rather, I am nominating an exceptional Dalhousie employee, who embodied everything that we strive for when it comes to true leadership and an employee who is deserving of recognition for the contributions that he has made to the Dalhousie community.” 

Always with a collaborative approach, Ryan made many impactful contributions to the continuation of medical education during the pandemic. One of his most influential contributions was to a project involving moving examinations for medical students to an online format. It was a complex and difficult project that involved not just a technology solution, but the cooperation of many individuals from different units and geographical locations. “Ryan helped to provide a solution in a way that helped to calm the situation and lower the stress levels of those around him. He pulled out the best in people...the best efforts they could do, the best perspectives they could have of a situation or a person and the best attitudes.”  Ian adds that “Ryan was responsible for a complete overhaul of how projects were managed within MedIT and for the Faculty of Medicine.  New processes were implemented, and a new SharePoint site was built as a shared repository for project documents. To support the success of fellow colleagues, Ryan used his extensive knowledge and leveraged regular monthly departmental meetings to teach “Project Management 101” to all MedIT staff”

Ryan was dedicated to improving the health of those around him and made it his mission to ensure that colleagues were getting the mental and emotional support that they needed.   During times of incredible emotional challenges, such as throughout the pandemic, the horrific events in Nova Scotia and the Black Lives Matter movement, Ryan insisted that every department meeting start with a mental health check. He also set up a dedicated departmental channel in MS Teams to increase awareness of anti-racism and anti-colonialism.

As from Dr. Dave Anderson, Dean, Faculty of Medicine “one of Ryan’s most notable achievements was his leadership in the university’s Uniweb project, an information repository for research and academic activity. Ryan played a pivotal role in laying the groundwork for, and navigating the complexities of, implementing this management tool. He championed the successful execution of this project in collaboration with department heads, faculty members, university library staff, and other administrators across the Faculty of Medicine”. He further adds that “Ryan was a credit to this institution, to his profession, and to the field of Medical Information Technology. I wholeheartedly nominate Mr. Ryan Clow for the DPMG Award for Outstanding Achievement in 2021.”



Michelle Patrick


Career Award

As the first manager of Promoting Leadership in Health for African Nova Scotians (PLANS), Michelle Patrick was instrumental in starting initiatives that led to the successful increase in number of students of African descent in Medicine, Dentistry and the Faculty of Health. She was strategic in helping to expand the program to Cape Breton University and Saint Francis Xavier University to support more students of African descent in the public school system and in post-secondary institutions. As per Nominator, Dr. Barb Hamilton-Hinch, Assistant Vice Provost Equity and Inclusion, “Michelle does above and beyond what is expected of her, to the benefit of the Dalhousie Communities. I have come to respect and depend on Ms. Patrick for several matters, as do many other individuals at Dalhousie and outside of the Dalhousie Community. Without Ms. Patrick’s positive influence and leadership as the first PLANS Manager, I am not convinced the program would be as successful as it is.”

In support of nominating Michelle for an award, Dr. Theresa Rajack-Talley, Vice Provost, Equity and Inclusion communicates “Michelle’s  leadership  qualities come with a strong heart, committed effort, a level of professionalism, and a warm smile. Since the establishment of the Office of the Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion at Dalhousie in August 2019,  Michelle  Patrick  has  been  a  valuable  human  resource  for  this  Office. She  consistently  serves  on important Equity, Diversity, Inclusiveness and Accessibility (EDIA) committees and is always available for on-line consultation and providing recommendations. Currently, Michelle is on a committee developing new policy guidelines for Racial Violence linked to  the Human Rights and Equity Services (HRES) Policy on discrimination and personal harassment that aligns with Dalhousie’s core EDIA values and pillars. And also recently, Michelle was one of Dalhousie’s participants on a national Dialogue on anti-Black racism and Black inclusion at universities and colleges and provided feedback on a national Charter emerging from the Dialogue.”

Ms. Patrick’s ability to effectively develop and organize teams, accountability for performance and results of her team members, with her commitment to change and innovation, have contributed to her being sought after for a secondment,  and within the past two years transitioned into the position of Student Success Career Advisor at Student Services. 

As per Karen McCrank, Director, Bissett Student Services Success Center, Michelle began her role as Career Advisor only a few months before the start of the pandemic. She was quickly able to adjust to the remote working environment while supporting a team of 6 student staff and simultaneously develop a new program to meet the new and unexpected needs of current and prospective students through the creation of the “Gap on-Track” program. Michelle’s initiative, creativity and expertise in program design enabled her to fill a critical need for Dalhousie students while supporting Dalhousie’s strategic priorities for enrolment and retention. Michelle has consistently demonstrated strong leadership in her role as Career Advisor.

Queena Crooker-Smith


Career Award

Exhibiting high and consistent performance levels, taking initiative, juggling dozens of wide-ranging tasks and working with Senior Leaders on undertakings requiring strategic thinking, are just a few reasons a nomination for Queena Crooker-Smith in outstanding achievement is fully supported by many within faculty and across campus.

As Faculty Administrator, Faculty of Agriculture, Queena is known for being a positive influence, for her leadership and for making an impact on the University and greater community. As Dr. Chris Cutler, Associate Dean, Research and Grad Studies, confirms “Queena has helped coordinate and plan rebuilds, repairs, shutdowns and return to campus efforts, all while ensuring no balls got dropped around ‘normal’ activities of hiring, budgeting and administering.”

Nominator Dr. David Gray, Dean and Campus Principal, Faculty of Agriculture, refers to Queena’s exceptional ability to take initiative and look at things from a new approach. This specifically throughout the past 5 years when they’ve experienced a mass shooting in their local community and 2 major fires on campus.  “Queena’s immediate thoughts throughout all of these local crises were for our people. She worked with HR colleagues to bring counsellors and support to our campus and visited each unit to ascertain what was needed. As Chair of the campus Health and Wellbeing Committee, Queena allocated resources to support sessions across campus and for social activities that allowed colleagues to ‘heal’ together. The same goes for throughout the pandemic – our ability to function and operate at a high level has been due to Queena’s ability to implement new approaches in high pressure situations and within short timeframes. 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ‘work from home model’, much coordination was needed with instructors, researchers, and students and Queena coordinated all of it. Crucial to the agricultural research discipline, Queena also worked with Dr. Chris Cutler on a process for accepting ‘Return to Field research’ applications for the growing season. As described by Dr. Gray, “during Return to Campus planning, Queena was the architect of procedure. On more than one occasion, the agriculture campus was held by Dalhousie’s RTC as an example of best practice in approach and response to the COVID situation, and this was largely due to Queena.”

One of Queena’s greatest strengths is “her ability to support and encourage all staff effectively and equally, valuing what each and every person has to contribute”, says Jean Lynds, Operations Manager, Farm. “As someone who reports to Queena, I have seen first-hand her genuine interest and enthusiasm for agriculture, the campus Farm and it’s people.  It’s very rewarding to work for someone who values your work and has confidence in your ability. Queena’s contribution to the Faculty has been exceptional and she would be a most deserving recipient of the DPMG Award for Outstanding Achievement.”

Quenta Adams


Career Award

Quenta Adams, Director, Student Academic Success, is valued by many for her leadership, generosity and positive impacts.  As Frank Harvey, Provost and VP Academic (acting) summarizes it best, “Quenta Adams stands apart as one of the few outstanding champions who have consistently made important and impactful contributions throughout their career. As a consummate professional and exemplar ambassador for Dalhousie, she never hesitates to lend her support and leadership to initiatives and projects where her combined institutional knowledge, expertise and advocacy benefit the work at hand, her colleagues, our students and the university.”

In addition to the vast operational responsibilities as Director of Student Academic Success, Quenta is also committed and dedicated to the African Nova Scotian community, on campus and at large.  In the fall of 2020, Michelle Williams sought out Quenta’s leadership in co-chairing Dalhousie’s African Nova Scotian Strategy. As Professor Williams notes when explaining her decision, "Quenta is a highly respected senior staff member at Dalhousie and her counsel is sought after. She is able to see the landscape of Dalhousie within its civic context and identify and implement specific interventions to improve equitable service for African Nova Scotians and other historically underrepresented groups."  Quenta’s high caliber and consistent leadership as Co-Chair of the Dalhousie University African Nova Scotian Strategy Working Group resulted in the first African Nova Scotian Strategy of its kind in the province.  And as Melisa Marsman, Assistant General Counsel, Legal Counsel Office adds, “Quenta’s compassion and generosity with her time, knowledge, relationships, and experience strategically guides the African Nova Scotian Strategy”.

Quenta played a critical role as well in the development of Dalhousie's Accessibility Plan and has recently been named Co-Chair of the Dalhousie University Accessibility Committee. As per Frank Harvey, “Quenta recognizes the importance of accessibility in all of its facets: curriculum, services, culture, physical environment. Recognition of accessibility’s importance reflects the way she forms meaningful relationships and seeks to understand an individual’s lived experience. Among her many recent contributions was the successful launch and stewardship of an Accessibility Fund for the Dalhousie community to support direct financial costs associated with enhancing the accessibility of learning environments and experiences on campus. ​88% of the original fund was awarded across several Faculties and Departments with positive reports.”

Quenta’s  dedication and incredible work ethic are simply parts of who Quenta is as a person, team member and leader at Dalhousie and in our community. And as Frank Harvey further attests, “Quenta would never expect to be recognized for her many valuable contributions, but it is very hard to imagine anyone more deserving of recognition for her outstanding contributions to Dalhousie and its legacy.

2019 Winners

Hazel Ling

Social Worker

Student Health and Wellness (SHW), Student Affairs

DPMG Early Career Award

Early in her time as a DPMG member, Hazel quickly identified a gap in service for students including a bridge between medical and psychological services. She also realized the need for preventative wellness intervention and advocacy support for students experiencing barriers to their health, aligning with Dalhousie strategic priority Teaching and Learning 1.3, strengthen student experience, leadership development and additional support for our locally diverse and international students.

Hazel consistently challenges herself and has an incredible way of examining issues from multiple perspectives and possibilities, determined to find a solution.  Her unique approach and commitment to excellence in supporting the Dalhousie community and beyond as well as her innovation in delivering programs that align with our strategic priorities makes her a valuable ambassador for wellness at Dalhousie University. 

Emily Huner

Finance and Administration

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)

DPMG Award for Outstanding Achievement

Emily has not only fulfilled the mandate of her office but has gone above and beyond to create a collaborative environment and systematically and methodically enhance collegiate relations throughout FASS. Over the past 7 months, Emily has transformed morale within FASS and has been described by her colleagues as “A Beacon of Hope”. By collaborating with various key employee groups within FASS, such a major shift in trust and morale would normally take years, not months.

She has also routinized support for career and skills growth for NSGEU and DPMG members by scheduling opportunities to attend internal sessions and has also instated an annual FASS Staff Award for Excellence in Service.  Conscientious, inclusiveness, excellence and innovativeness are qualities that Emily possesses and creating a work environment that is respectful, rewarding and engaging is always a priority for Emily.


Dr. Keltie Jones

Assistant Dean,
Student and
Academic Administration

Faculty of

DPMG Award for Outstanding Achievement

Keltie makes the university environment an inviting place for students to come talk to her by learning about their stories and engaging with them personally. Having a mentor like this on campus is crucial to students’ success in post-secondary education. It’s important to have a safe place to go and ask for help. Keltie provides a great atmosphere for students to feel comfortable and is committed to ensuring student success as soon as they enter university and every year after that.  Keltie cares about the community around her and goes above and beyond to make it an inclusive, welcoming and fun place to be.


As an ambassador for positive change, Dr. Jones has shown exceptional and creative efforts in advancing equity, diversity and inclusion within the Dalhousie University Community.  Particular initiatives at the Truro campus include: Mi’kmag Grand Council Flag Installation, renaming “Rover Road” to “Sipu Awti”, creating an Indigenous Resource Room as well as various internal and external community partnerships.


Martha Skerry

Assistant Manager,
Payroll and
Information Services

Human Resources

DPMG Award for Outstanding Achievement

A steadfast employee in Human Resource at Dalhousie since 1973, Martha’s current role has a direct effect on all faculty and staff at Dalhousie and ensures we all get paid accurately and on time.  Under Martha’s careful watch and supervision, she oversees the processing of 5-7 pays per month, translating to almost 8500 employees.  Martha is consistent in both her planning and implementation of this critical role and advises staff and monitors data entry standards for the Banner HR system.  She creates and implements payroll
policies to realize efficiencies, process improvements and improved internal controls.

Martha was a key team member of two mergers with Dalhousie: the TUNS Merger in 1996 and the NSAC merger 2014/2015.  Martha has also played an integral role on other projects and initiatives such as: an upgrade to Banner in 2009, Graduate Student Payroll Information Profile Improved Functionality, Electronic Personal Action Forms rollout in 2016, Process Improvement Project and the Banner 9 Implementation.


2018 Winners

John Hope

Hidden, yet seen, is an apt way to describe John Hope’s contributions to Dalhousie University. While the particulars of his contributions must, by their nature, remain undisclosed, the impacts of his commitment and leadership pervade the University. As Ian Wagschal, Assistant Director of Minor Projects stated in his letter of support, the greatest proof of John’s years of proactive, ethical and ‘prescient’ leadership at Dal, is that he works to make sure that ‘nothing’ happens.

John began working at the University’s legal counsel office about ten years ago. He has since risen to become the Assistant General Counsel, and with the retirement of the General Counsel earlier this year, he assumed the leadership of the university’s legal team.

The reach of John’s impacts is simply limitless. Ian Wagshal notes that “a good portion of Dalhousie’s success can be attributed to John’s behind-the-scenes influence and judgment”. And, the Vice President, Finance and Administration, Ian Nason, concludes that “every major construction project at Dalhousie in the last ten years owes something of its success to John’s careful legal guidance and ability to work with diverse stakeholders”. Whether it is in his extensive relationships across the university; his approach to sensitive and high-stakes projects; or his engagement with students, John’s thoughtfulness and ingenuity are always evident.

The complex IDEA project is just one example of John’s practical and solution-focused nature. He developed a unique Contractor Safety Management Process widely acclaimed by safety experts as the “gold standard” in institutional safety practices. He is also credited for improving the process for making small project contracts, by designing a memorandum to delegate signing authority of contracts.

John’s penchant for refining processes is impossible to miss. When he assumed leadership of the legal counsel office, he assigned staff lawyers to specific areas of responsibility; allowing them to build expertise and forge relationships. John has also designed supplemental conditions to standard construction contracts, adapting conventional contracts to Dal’s specific needs and special risks.

Worthy of special mention is John’s deep concern for and commitment to people. Alison Shea tells the story of how John, at a period when the legal counsel office was shorthanded, noticed the toll the increased workload had on her health and encouraged her to seek help. John’s humour and capacity to forge lasting relationships, have been of immense advantage to Dal. In Alison’s words, these strategic relationships allow John to transform “a potential week-long discussion into a ten-minute phone call”.

Said Msabaha

“A human being with a big heart, and strong intelligence; someone who manages everything with a big smile and an easy nature”; is how Jacquie Thilaye describes ‘the mayor of Halifax’. No, not Mayor Mike Savage; but, Said Msabaha, program manager at the Global Health Office (GHO), Faculty of Medicine.

While Said served as an evening supervisor at the Killam Library between 2005 and 2011, he joined the GHO as a program coordinator in 2011. His initial responsibility was limited to supporting international students from Malaysia admitted into the medical school. In no time, the diligence and dedication that stood him out as a supervisor at the Killam library became obvious at the GHO. As the ‘price’ and ‘prize’ of excellence is ‘more work’, Said’s terms of reference were soon expanded to include supporting International Medical Graduates entering into clerkships and managing other programs involving students in health studies to participate in exchange programmes.

Said has not only fulfilled the mandate of his office, he has gone over and beyond. While examples of his outstanding performance abound, a few will be highlighted. Over the past years, Said has successfully managed the Link Program - an intensive 15-week orientation for international students transitioning into clerkship. This entails collaborating with various stakeholders in health studies to develop the curriculum and manage the schedule. He also coordinates a program which deals with the identification and posting of students in Health Studies to undertake courses in Tanzania and the Gambia.

To Said, these responsibilities are not merely professional; they are personal. Hence, in 2017, as part of his vacation, he travelled to Tanzania to have a first-hand appreciation of the situation of Dalhousie students in the country. Despite the successes he has recorded, Said is simply not satisfied. The need to ‘do more’ informed his development of an evaluation report of the International Medical Graduates clerkship program. This report is fast becoming a standard, which officials in other provinces like Ontario are seeking to adapt.

In case you are wondering how Said came to be known as ‘the mayor of Halifax’. All you need to do is to take a walk with him from the Henry Hicks Building to the Carleton campus. However, beware that a 10-minute walk could need a 20-minute extension, as members of the university community, will often stop Said to ask questions, share their news or acknowledge him. Shawna O’Hearn, Said’s nominator, notes that while “Dalhousie campuses can feel disconnected … (Said) demonstrates how interconnected we are”.

Inclusiveness, dependability, excellence and innovativeness are qualities which dot the various letters in support of Said’s nomination for this award. Indeed, his stand-out qualities were well summed up by Dr. Megan Aston and Dr. Gail Tomblin Murphy who note that “Said is consistently inclusive and dependable. His sense of humour and demeanour are exceptional and qualities that are effective in moving work forward in a way that is respectful and engaging”.

Kim Thomson

Kim Thomson personifies professionalism, exudes competence and inspires confidence. While her official position as the chief of staff, provost office, might suggest a singular mandate, this is far from being correct. In fact, Kim is many things rolled into one. She coordinates the day-to-day activities of the Provost’s office; manages the provost’s committee, the Dean’s Council and the Provost’s Executive; serves as the university contact and resident expert with the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, and acts as the University liaison with the Education Advisory Board.

Kim played a pivotal role in Dalhousie’s adoption of and transition to the Provost model. Since the model’s roll-out, Kim has dedicated herself to its smooth operation and constant improvement. For example, upon realising the need for an effective and efficient internal review process, Kim undertook a process of ensuring that executive assistants and managers were trained in the six-sigma method for process analysis. The impact of this initiative is felt across the university, as approval processes for new and modified academic programs are now conducted more effectively and efficiently.

Describing Kim, her nominator, the Associate Vice President Academic – Fiona Black, notes that Kim “employs all her formal learning and continued professional development with a deep wisdom” and “wears her learning lightly” even when she clearly knows a situation’s complexity more thoroughly than anyone else in the room.” “She is calm, confident, humble and an enormous asset to the President and Provost’s Offices”. These words were reaffirmed by the Provost and Vice President, Academic, Carolyn Watters, whose deep respect for Kim is evident in her letter of support. To her: “Kim is a positive role model and positive problem solver. She thinks strategically and leads from behind the scenes, through candid and open relationships across the university”.

If you need to get a job done, Kim is your go-to-person. Her reliability, however, comes at a price. In Fiona Black’s words “”Is Kim available?”” has become a regular refrain among senior admin. But Kim’s astounding impact is not limited to senior admin. Her peers and others who report to her attest to her availability, geniality and candour. Andrea Heyer, Executive Assistant and Project Coordinator said: “What is most notable about Kim as a leader is her accessibility. Kim has been my team lead on several projects over the years, and she has always been willing to offer consistent and valuable insight, and if necessary role up her sleeves and work jointly to ‘get the job done’”.

Beverly Zinck

Students, colleagues and faculty feel the same about her. Differently yet uniformly, they all attest that Beverly Zinck, or ‘Bev’ as she is fondly called, has a heart of gold. She gives willingly, unreservedly and unconditionally. She gives her time past the demands of official ‘hours’; she gives her attention past the requirements of her office; and she gives her drive, vision and passion to the cause of the Accommodation Office at the Faculty of Agriculture campus, Dalhousie University. Beyond the dotted lines of her contract as the Coordinator of Access Supports at Truro, Bev has successfully unravelled the underpinning philosophy and purpose of accommodation services; and she operates by the higher mandates this evoke.

Her deeper appreciation of and connection to the demands of her office is evident in the reforms Bev has enacted and the immense success she has recorded in less than four years. To make access to accommodations services quicker and easier, Bev developed a Test Request Form; sends electronic test and examinations notifications to students and is currently revamping the outdated accommodations database at Truro.

One of the many areas where Bev’s engaging, personable, proactive and collaborative attributes came to the fore was in her reform of the scheduling system of examinations and tests. A faculty member, Nancy Pitts, affirms these attributes thus: “Bev built the present efficient, trusted system, and excellent collegial interaction with instructional colleagues from scratch … On her arrival, Bev deliberately reached out to faculty, especially instructors of the large classes … Now, when I as a faculty member, receive a Notice of Accommodation, I have confidence that it is appropriately founded … For this vision of ‘team-ship’ alone, Bev would be deserving of recognition”.

Bev always does more. Whether it is in her scanning and emailing of class notes to students, her last-minute adjustments of her personal schedule to accommodate a student who forgot the time for a test or examination, or spending late nights, early mornings and weekends to work with students, Bev is always available with refreshing calmness and assuring demeanour. And, yes; she makes ‘yummy’ home baked cookies for her students. Her former student, Holly Fisher, fondly recollects that: “After our first meeting I could tell she (Bev) truly cared about the students she worked with and would do anything in her power to see them succeed … Beverly was able to instill in me the confidence to understand my needs while learning and testing … this made a large difference in my life and I am grateful to Beverly Zinck for helping me move past that stage”.

Of her many praiseworthy qualities, one often highlighted by those who know and work with Bev, is her respect for everyone. Her nominator, Carolyn Bartlett, reflects on this quality in the following words: “Respect is at the core of Bev’s leadership style. It is ingrained into her personality and it becomes pervasive with students and colleagues she interacts with daily … conversations occur with understanding, clear listening and empathy to concerns concerned”.

2017 Winners

Darrell Rhodenizer

Darrell Rhodenizer, Associate Director for Advancement Systems & Reporting in the Office of Advancement, is in the early stages of his Dalhousie career as a DPMG member. He joined the Office less than three years ago as the Manager for Information Systems, and within a year he took on a leadership role with the Advancement Operations & Planning unit as Associate Director.

Darrell’s supporters say that he came to Advancement ready for new challenges - and they were able to provide them! He immediately applied his considerable skills and aptitude for learning to some of the thorniest and longest-standing barriers to progress that Advancement staff faced in trying to fulfil their mission. Within a very short time, his supporters were regarding him as a "game-changer."

His contributions include a complete revamping of Advancement’s fundraising reports from the ground up (eliminating many laborious manual processes in doing so); envisioning and creating a "data mart" to accelerate the Office’s ability to bring data together into reports and analyses to drive decision-making; streamlining and automating processes to help staff become more efficient; developing tools and implementing systems to allow fund raisers and alumni officers to work more effectively; helping to set strategic direction for how Advancement Operations can most effectively support the unit’s mission and goals; and representing Advancement's needs to central IT better than it has ever been done before.

As one of his supporters tells us, “He delivers solutions that the user sometimes didn't even know they needed, explaining things in a language they can understand.” His nominator, Suzanne Huett, says, “I have been involved in the fundraising profession for over 30 years and I have never witnessed anyone who has his exceptional ability to holistically understand the work of Advancement. He has developed a universal, integrated and collaborative approach to tackling goals by being an active listener and an engaged participant in any committee, task or challenge that is he involved with.”

In short, Darrell's work with Advancement has been transformational, and forms an important part of the foundation Dalhousie needs to effectively manage the University's relationship with its alumni, donors, and prospective donors, as his Office seeks to maximize support for the University's overall mission.

Gail Power

Things seem to have come full circle for Gail Power. She joined Dalhousie in 1991 as a Facilities Manager for Housing and Conference Services and this very building, Shirreff Hall, was one of the buildings she managed. And later this month, 26 years later, Gail will be retiring from Dalhousie.  Celebrating her receipt of this award here, in Shirreff Hall, is special for her I am sure.

After her first role with Housing and Conference Services, Gail held roles with the Department of Chemistry, Research Services and with the Faculty of Agriculture. During her 15 years with Chemistry she provided a leadership role for new initiatives within the department. Some of those initiatives included working with 25 faculty members writing a first year chemistry textbook and the 2008 strategic review of the department.  That review took place at her suggestion, and Gail also had responsibility for implementation of many of the emerging recommendations.

Most recently, Gail has served as the first Faculty Administrator for the Faculty of Agriculture. This was a newly-created role as a result of the merger of the Nova Scotia Agricultural College with Dalhousie in 2012. While the role of Faculty Administrator is well known at Dal, it was new to the Agricultural Campus. Gail’s nominator, Dean David Gray, describes how the merger of the two institutions, with campuses located nearly 100 kms apart, created the need for an exceptional effort - not only to deal with the transition and integration of the merger with the Halifax campuses-, but also with the day to day operations of an entire faculty.

Results-focused, knowledgeable, positive, personable, understanding, supportive, highly engaged, determined and committed are just a few of the words used to describe Gail by her nomination supporters, Jean Lynds from the Faculty of Agriculture and Janice MacInnis from Human Resources. Jean states not once, but twice, that Gail’s contribution to their campus and Faculty has been exceptional.  

Cathie Smith-Gillis

Cathie Smith-Gillis, Director of Human Resources in the Faculty of Health Professions, is integral to the smooth operation of her large and complex Faculty, which is home to ten different Schools and over 1,400 full-time and part-time faculty, staff, sessional instructors, casual employees, teaching and research assistants and post-doctoral fellows.

She was nominated for this award by her Dean, Dr. Alice Aitken, who tells us that “Cathie's consistently high performance is instrumental in ensuring that we are not just meeting, but in fact exceeding, the standard. In every way, Cathie exemplifies the qualities of an outstanding employee.”

Considered by her peers and community to be an invaluable asset, Cathie is essential to the efficient and effective operation of her Faculty and consistently goes above and beyond to lead HR initiatives, offer exceptional service, and provide reasoned and thoughtful advice – ensuring that the majority of the human resource issues her Faculty encounters do not have to move beyond the level of the Faculty.

Her achievements are many, but in nominating her for this award, her supporters have highlighted several. These include her efforts to help streamline the workload guidelines for DFA members, and her preparation of a highly-regarded Employment Equity plan for the Faculty. Perhaps most notably, however, Cathie has developed a performance support and professional development tool for use across the Faculty. This initiative, which arose out of feedback from workplace surveys identifying issues with the ACHIEVE program, required careful thought around how a performance review tool could foster individual and team development, build accountability and feedback into annual routines, and capture the varied and multifaceted contributions of a broad range of employees.

In response to this need, Cathie created the DPMG Performance Support/Professional Development Tool based on the University's core competencies. The project is regarded by Cathie’s supporters as a prime example of her creativity and understanding of the Faculty and University's strategic objectives and goals. The DPMG tool has been so well received both inside and outside the Faculty that Cathie went on to create a similar tool for NSGEU use.

Dean Aiken tells us, “Cathie inspires confidence in everyone who has the pleasure of working with her.”   

Debbie Parker

“Her role directly affects staff across the entire University, which in turn impacts on the University’s ability to fulfill its mission and meet strategic goals.” This statement was provided as part of the nomination package for Debbie Parker, Manager of Compensation and Senior Human Resources Consultant, and our final recipient of the DPMG Award for Outstanding Achievement for 2017.

Building and maintaining positive relationships with a wide variety of employees and managers is something that everyone wants to do and is a great skill for any employee to possess. But being able to do this successfully while also leading the university’s job evaluation process, which can sometimes be emotional and overwhelming for employees, is impressive. And this is what Debbie has done for many years at Dalhousie.

Debbie is both trusted and respected across campuses and her nominator and supporters have heralded her for her compassion and dedication to a role that, at times, can be difficult and thankless. But Debbie performs her role with a very high level of integrity and commitment and she works hard to contribute to the reputation of Dalhousie as an employer of choice. One of her supporters, AVP of Financial Services, Susan Robertson, noted that Debbie can always be relied upon to provide sound advice. Unfortunately for Debbie, that means she is usually the first person that Susan recommends others in Financial Services to contact when they require guidance!

The nomination package for Debbie outlined a number of achievements and one stood out in particular. The merger of the Nova Scotia Agricultural College with Dalhousie was a large and complex task on many fronts. Debbie was instrumental in the alignment of the Government of Nova Scotia’s compensation structure to the compensation structure of Dalhousie. This project involved evaluating hundreds of positions from various union and employee groups. And behind each position was a person. While there were challenging questions, Debbie was always able to address these in a kind and warm manner, while always remembering that this process was doubtless a very anxious one for our Truro campus colleagues.

Debbie’s nominator, Sheila MacLean from Human Resources, stated in her nomination letter that Debbie is a confidante to many, a strong and knowledgeable leader within human resources and someone who is always considers the big picture when making decisions or providing advice. And, quite simply, she is a very proud member of the Dalhousie community.

2016 Winners

Michael Wilkinson

At Dalhousie, the job of managing mail delivery, snow removal, waste collection, pest control and horticulture is held by one extraordinary individual: Michael Wilkinson, the Environmental Services Manager in Facilities Management.

Mike and his team of 20 staff and numerous service contractors provide these services to the entire campus.  Born and raised in South Africa, Mike honed his horticultural skills in his native country, before moving to the UK to manage the estate grounds of the legendary race car driver Jackie Stewart. Shortly after moving to Nova Scotia in 2007, Mike joined us at Dalhousie.

Mike works every day with his team to create an inviting, safe and sustainable environment for Dalhousie. His horticulture initiatives are very noticeable across the campus as he and his team are in the process of revitalizing the flower beds, shrubs, trees and other landscape features. He has changed the way we manage our waste on campus to make it more sustainable and cost-efficient. Through his collaboration with Security Services, he has made a significant impact in ensuring the three Halifax campuses are a safe place to travel to and from at any time of the day or night. Perhaps most notably, however, he has also improved our snow removal and ice control methods, benefitting the campus tremendously during the winter of 2015-16 which, as we all remember, was one of the most severe winters ever experienced in Halifax.

Mike’s colleagues often joke that Mike manages all the services that nobody else wants. But these critical services help create an environment at Dalhousie where researchers and students can be successful.  Darrell Boutilier, Director of Operations in Facilities Management and Mike’s supervisor and nominator for this award, summed up his nomination by saying, “I think Mike Wilkinson is a great example of what a young, professional leader should be. He is a high performer who is focused on personal and professional growth for both himself and his staff. His expertise and leadership has resulted in a number of accomplishments and successful initiatives that have campus-wide impact on a daily basis.” 



Peter Dykhuis

The Dalhousie Art Gallery enjoys a sterling reputation amongst its peers across the country. The DPMG Award nomination package for the Gallery’s Curator, Peter Dykhuis, demonstrates the many ways in which he has continuously promoted the excellence of the Art Gallery and its programming, dedicated to enhancing the experiential and educative aspects of visual art on campus. In her letter of support for Peter’s nomination, our Vice-President Academic and Provost, Dr. Carolyn Watters, says: “Peter has led his small but excellent team to help all of us think differently about art and its contribution to the ways we think and appreciate, surely a core value of the university.”

As an Academic Support Unit, the Gallery is a resource for the student and teaching populations. Peter frequently works with faculty to incorporate the Gallery’s exhibitions and permanent collection into curricula as a teaching tool, offering class tours, guided access to the collection, and in-class lectures.

His influence is also felt beyond Dalhousie. He actively contributes to all levels of the arts community in Canada: through leadership roles with regional and national gallery associations; participation in Arts advocacy; mentorship of young artists and curators; and committee and jury work.

During his time at Dalhousie, Peter has successfully raised over a million dollars in municipal, provincial, and federal grant funding to support the Gallery’s program of activities. He has also added nearly a million dollars to the university’s capital assets through the growth in the Gallery’s permanent collection holdings in artwork deemed of national cultural significance.

But Peter’s staff, who have nominated him en masse for this award, say that this narrative tells only a part of his story. All of his engagements are based on a foundation of professional and personal integrity, deep empathy, an irrepressible sense of humour, and a desire to “make our heaven here on earth” (an expression his staff say he uses by way of apology for contributing more than what is expected, which means they hear the phrase often). 

Michael Campbell

“When you leave a meeting you feel confident and self-assured due to his positive attitude,” is how one supporter described her interactions with Michael Campbell, Manager of Custodial Services with Facilities Management.

Michael is a wonderful example of someone who provides positive influence and leadership and there are many examples of this. He utilizes both one-on-one meetings and monthly meetings with the General Forepersons to discuss how things are going and to learn if there are issues impacting work performance while consistently offering potential solutions. He makes a point to interact with many members of the custodial staff and it should be noted that this takes a great deal effort as these staff members are located in many buildings, across all three Halifax campuses. 

As a supervisor Michael is known to encourage his staff members to advance their education. He has also partnered with the Immigrants Settlement Association of Nova Scotia to provide English in the workplace training for some custodial staff members whose first language is not English.

He took note of the rate of injuries of custodial staff and initiated a project entitled WorkSAFE @ Dal by reaching out to the School of Occupational Therapy. The intent of the program is to reduce injury rates of custodial staff members and to provide occupational therapy students the opportunity to apply their skills in a way that benefits others. WorkSAFE @ Dal was the recipient of the Environmental Health and Safety Award in 2014 and this program is a wonderful example of a new initiative can have positive impacts for multiple Dalhousie stakeholders, in this case, our employees and our students.

As his nominator Suzanne Strowbridge stated, “I don’t know if Michael Campbell realizes the impact he has, but it should be known. I feel very proud in letting you know that he is a great person and it is nice to have a strong leader as our manager for custodial. He supports our endeavours and our efforts to improve.”

Suzanne Le-May Sheffield

 “She is the very best example of outstanding performance and achievement in the university,” is how one supporter chose to describe Dr. Suzanne Le-May Sheffield, Director of the Centre for Learning and Teaching.

Her work impacts many including helping graduate students become dynamic educators, assisting faculty members and instructors on improving student learning across Dalhousie’s campuses and though coordinating events such as New Academic Staff Orientation and CLT’s Annual Conference on University Teaching and Learning. Her nomination package made note of her remarkable leadership and ability to understand the needs of an individual while keeping the big picture of advancing the university’s strategic priorities related to teaching and learning in view. Much of her work directly relates to Strategic Priority 1.5 – Innovation in Programs and Excellent in Teaching and Pedagogy.

Suzanne has led or been an instrumental partner in several institutional initiatives including the review of Dalhousie’s Teaching Awards, the framework for Certificates and Diplomas, the implementation of Brightspace, and a Faculty Certificate in Teaching and Academic Practice, to name but a few. She has overseen tremendous growth and changeover of staff within the CLT as well as the realignment and restructuring of the centre to meet the goals of Dalhousie. She helped initiate, draft a self-study, participate in and work on the response to the CLT’s first ever external review.

The nomination package for Suzanne also made note of how she consistently takes the time to support the mental and physical health of her staff and their development as professionals. Her staff knows that “she is in their corner” at all times. Suzanne never forgets that our work involves people and this inspires others to work harder and with a people-centred focus. Another nominator stated that she has a special gift for working with people and building relationships while maintaining her commitment to creating the best possible learning environment at Dalhousie.

2015 Winners

Jacob (Jake) MacIsaac

Jake MacIsaac is the Community Safety Officer with Security Services.  The position was created four years ago with the remit of providing an education and referral service on issues related to campus safety.  Since then, Jake has developed this position into one which has a wide-ranging influence in Student Services, Residence Life, Human Rights, Equity & Harassment Prevention, and the Dalhousie Restorative Justice Initiative.

He has been at the forefront of a number of initiatives over the past several years, including being security lead for the Dalhousie Restorative Justice Initiative, where he has worked to transform the University into a community that has the capacity to collectively and compassionately understand and repair harm.  This initiative has been in place for the past three years, and was an important part of the response to the University’s response to the Dentistry Facebook Group.  Jake was the face of the University for the individual men and women associated with the incident, and was tasked with guiding the group and the University through a truly restorative process.  The situation was described as stressful, hostile, very public, and ever-changing.  In spite of these challenges, Jake created a safe space for the students where difficult issues could be openly discussed. 

Jake has been described as compassionate, fair, principled and a leader.  One of his nominees notes that “the impact that Jake has had on the University community cannot be overstated”.

Heather Doyle

Heather has been the Director of Student Services with the Faculty of Agriculture at the Truro Campus since August 2013, and has led the department through a time of intense change.  During her short time there, she has transformed students' perceptions of Student Support Services by advocating for the integration of student services into the students' academic experience.   As one of her nominees states, “Simply put, Ms. Doyle puts students first”.

Heather was the first person in Canada to become a Certified Appreciative Advisor, and has now become an internationally recognized leader in the field.  She shares the appreciative advising tools with her staff and students, which has resulted in improved retention and engagement.  Heather has also been credited with revitalizing the Student Services Office on the Truro Campus, during a difficult time of change.

She has been described as having an exceptional work ethic, a positive mindset, and being a gifted relationship builder.  These qualities, along with many others, have allowed her to play a critical role in bridging the gap between the Truro and Halifax Campuses and improving collaboration between sites, all while focusing on fulfilling the strategic priorities of the University.
Janice Godin

Janice has been the Director of Human Resources in the Faculty of Medicine for the past number of months, and many of you will know her from the 6 years she spent as the Manager of Employee Development with Human Resources.  In both these roles at Dalhousie, Janice has been described as throwing “her heart, soul, and significant talents into any initiative where she believes she can help to advance learning, discovery and the value of Dalhousie”.

Janice has led a number of initiatives during her time with Dalhousie, including the development of a leadership competency framework and the academic leadership development program; the design and implementation of new online performance management and leave management tools, as well as the introduction of Skillsoft onto campus.  She was even involved with championing this very award to ensure that her DPMG colleagues could be recognized for their significant achievements.

She has managed to achieve ambitious goals with limited resources, and has accomplished this while maintaining a high level of integrity and compassion.  According to one of her nominators, “She is a rare example of a simply superb colleague who takes her roles and responsibilities very seriously, while maintaining a fabulously calm and reassuring manner”.

2014 Winners

Wendy Fletcher, program and student services officer with the Faculty of Graduate Studies, has worked at Dalhousie since 2003. Part of her focus is helping to attract and support international graduate students. Since 2011, Wendy has travelled to Brazil, Colombia, China and Saudi Arabia on Dalhousie recruitment missions. For her trip to Colombia, Wendy was Dal’s representative with the CALDO, a group of five Canadian universities that have teamed together to help bring Latin American students to Canada. Wendy was instrumental in developing CALDO’s web presence.

Carolyn Watters, Dal’s vice-president academic and provost, was dean of graduate studies when Wendy joined the team.

“As I started, my top priorities included building a higher profile for FGS on campus and in Canada and building international recruiting support,” she says. “Wendy led the team to make these priorities a reality. She brought innovative ideas, great initiatives, team building and leadership that led by doing.”

In addition to her work in recruitment, Wendy has increased contact with newly accepted Dal students, building strong relationships by email and social media. She also organizes September and January orientations, held the first webinars for incoming students and works closely with counterparts at other universities.

Janice MacInnis, Human Resources, was recognized for her work in organizational health with Employee and Organizational Development.

Janice works hard at promoting healthy values with Dalhousie’s staff. She has engaged colleagues from across campus to form the Healthy Dalhousie Collaborative, which shares and coordinates efforts to make Dal a healthier university. She also launched the Healthy Workplace Award, which awards specific departments for their commitment to health. The recipients so far have made real  efforts to improve all areas of wellness, including environmental and mental. Janice has assisted Faculties and departments by creating strategic plans to provide a welcoming and supporting environment and build relationships. Janice also helps develop Dalhousie’s Workplace Survey and works with staff and faculty to implement changes based on their results.

“Five years ago Janice developed Dalhousie's first Organizational Health strategy,” says supervisor Jim Neale. “It was an ambitious plan with precious few resources to support its implementation. She has capably and resourcefully achieved many of the objectives. She has every right to feel great pride in what she's been able to accomplish and I look forward to seeing where she envisions going from here.”

Janice collaborated on the development of Difficult Conversations videos, a resource for Dal employees that has been adopted nationally in a number of other universities and organizations. She also collaborated in developing comprehensive training for employees and supervisors regarding these videos.

A dedication to health and fostering a positive work environment for staff is evident in the work Janice does.

 “Well-being leads to be engaged, and that leads to productivity,” says Janice. When asked about what she’s most proud of Janice replies, “making people really understand what organizational health is. Organizational culture goes beyond being nice, or [receiving] perks but really making employees feel valued and supported.” 

2013 Winners

Catherine Currell, Department Administrator, Faculty of Medicine

Catherine works in the Department of Medical Neuroscience, Faculty of Medicine, and during her short time there she has been attributed to revitalizing the department, creating a team approach and improving morale.

Among her many accomplishments to date, she was responsible for the development and implementation of a systematic cost-recovery plan for the Clinical Cadaver Program. In addition, she has demonstrated leadership by identifying infrastructure issues that have resulted in a renovation of the morgue in the Tupper Building, as well as introducing e-learning to the gross anatomy lab in the upcoming 2013-2014 academic year with the purchase of iPads to replace anatomy books.

“I can honestly say that Catherine is the most approachable and fair administrator that I have worked with at Dalhousie over my 27 years,” said Brenda Armstrong, Human Donation Program. “Her enthusiasm is an inspiration for me, as well as for others, who have the pleasure of working with her.”

Bev Hubley, Director, ITS Business Operations

Bev began her career at Dalhousie more than 25 years ago starting in the Registrar’s Office. Since accepting the position as Director, ITS Business Operations, three years ago, she has demonstrated her knowledge and experience in HR practices and procedures as well as the budget process. During the merger with the former NSAC merger and Dalhousie, she was instrumental in the integration of ITS employees in both the Halifax and Truro campuses.

In 2012, ITS received the Dalhousie Healthy Workplace Award due in large part to Bev’s enthusiastic planning and coordination efforts. She leads many ITS events that promote a healthy work environment including the annual Ring Toss picnic and various social events.

“Bev exemplifies employer loyalty and demonstrates what a model employee can be with the right attitude, skills and ability to learn,” said Bryan Utas, Administrative Computing Services.

Ted Migas, Project Manager, Facilities Management

Ted has been with Facilities Management since 1996 when Dalhousie merged with the former Technical University of Nova Scotia (TUNS). In 2003, Ted advanced to become a Project Manager in Facilities Management. He is known to many in the department as the “Facilities Management Ambassador”, as a supporter of the merger and assisting with its successful integration. In 2012, he shared that same positive attitude with the introduction of Dalhousie’s Agricultural Campus.

One of his greatest contributions to the university has been with Dalhousie’s research activities. In the last five years, Ted has managed more than 117 research-related renovations totaling $11million. He is instrumental in guiding the researchers to a lab design that successfully achieves their requirements.

“Ted is one of the most respected and admired people in Facilities Management,” said Darrell Boutilier, Facilities Management. “He has been a beacon of positivity from the day he arrived and continues to be so today. On a daily basis, he inspires others to be better people.”

Gaye Wishart, Advisor, Harassment Prevention, Conflict Management, Office of Human Rights, Equity and Harassment Prevention

Gaye began with Dal’s School of Physiotherapy in 1984, and since then has assumed a variety of roles within the university. In 2007, she took on her current role, and expanded the Sexual Harassment position to include Personal Harassment and Conflict Management.

During her time with Human Resources, she launched the first online application process for recruitment, making Dalhousie one of the first in the Atlantic region to go “digital”. In her current role, she has led the establishment of Dalhousie’s Personal Harassment Policy and she supports other groups on campus including the Women’s Centre, the Residence Assistants and Dal Allies. In addition, Gaye co-developed conflict resolution training programs for employees, managers and supervisors, and a video series of showing employees having difficult conversations.

“Gaye is a caring and considerate advisor and colleague who is highly responsive and accessible,” said Janice MacInnis, Human Resources. “She cares deeply about the experience of others and believes strongly in the power of the organization and its people.”

Lynn Power, Director, Human Resources, Faculty of Medicine

Lynn began her career at Dalhousie 32 years ago. In her current role as Director of Human Resources, Faculty of Medicine, she has demonstrated dedication, diligence and commitment to the welfare of faculty and staff across the Faculty of Medicine and the university. Lynn has also served as President and Vice-President of DPMG.

She has been instrumental in laying the groundwork for the Faculty of Medicine’s mentorship program for senior leaders, including department heads, associate/assistant deans and department administrators.  Lynn has also championed the successful implementation of the university’s performance management tool, ACHIEVE, for staff across the Faculty of Medicine. One of her most notable achievements is her leadership in the Faculty’s renewed policy for faculty appointments completed in May 2013.

“Lynn’s caring and thoughtful manner is at the forefront of all her interactions with faculty, staff and students,” said Tom Marrie, Dean, Faculty of Medicine. “She is always available to listen to  and provide advice regardless of her own time commitments.”

2012 Winners

  • Pamela Bourque, Program Manager, Dalhousie Medicine NB 
  • Krista Cross, Senior Manager, Marketing & Communications, Student Services
  • Sandra Crowell, Managing Director, Atlantic Health Promotion Research Centre (AHPRC)
  • Rochelle Owen, Director, Office of Sustainability
  • Susan Robertson, Director, Budgets and Financial Analysis, Financial Services
  • Blair Westhaver, Custodial Supervisor, Facilities Management

2011 Winners

  • Mary Jane Adams, Director of Planning, Facilities Management
  • Laura Addicott, Director, Career Services Centre, Student Services
  • Bonnie Best-Fleming, Advisor, Human Rights & Equity, Office of Human Rights, Equity & Harassment Prevention
  • Bruce Moxley, Manager, Clinics & Building Services, Faculty of Dentistry