University of Guelph staff and faculty today attended the 15th annual community breakfast on campus to hear an update from president Franco Vaccarino and to honour exemplary staff and faculty.

The winners of the 2017 staff and faculty awards with U of G president Franco Vaccarino (far right)

The event was held for the first time in the events centre of the newly renovated and expanded Guelph Gryphons Athletics Centre.

Vaccarino said the new centre “underlines our commitment to health and wellness for students, faculty and staff.

“Earlier this year we launched our Wellness@Work initiative for faculty and staff, which is intended to support a healthy workplace at U of G through the pillars of a healthy lifestyle, mental health and workplace culture, corporate social responsibility  and physical environment.”

Vaccarino discussed key initiatives at the gathering, including the University’s proposed strategic mandate agreement and approved strategic research plan.

“We are open to the world with an increasingly international research and teaching focus,” he said, pointing to U of G’s Food From Thought project, which is intended to feed a growing world sustainably.

He also spoke about U of G’s renewed digital-first communications strategy, which includes an updated “Improve Life” promise.

“The University of Guelph, and everyone who studies here, explores here, teaches here and works here, is committed to one simple purpose: to improve life,” he said.

Two groups and seven individuals received President’s Awards for Exemplary Staff Service today.

Established in 2003, the awards recognize U of G staff and faculty committed to excellence who have exceeded expectations.

Award winners were as follows:

Hidden Hero Recognition Award

Paula Russell, undergraduate teaching coordinator in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, oversees biochemistry course labs, delivers educational and career counselling, and matches students with prospective research labs.

Rosemary Misurka, a physical resources clerk, responds to thousands of requests every year, including emergency calls for floods, power outages and custodial needs.

Innovative Leadership Recognition Award

Ken Hough, director, research facilities management and OMAFRA-U of G agreement, was recognized for implementation and financial management of the OMAFRA-U of G partnership.

Service Excellence Recognition Award

Kim Garwood, manager of writing services in the library, develops learning curricula and provides writing instruction. She also belongs to several departmental and campus-wide communities.

Spirit Award

Leslie Rye, an instructor in the Department of Integrative Biology, has served as an undergraduate adviser for the biodiversity major, and supported several student clubs and a field course in Algonquin Park.

Amit Khosla, information technology (IT) analyst in the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC), supports hundreds of faculty and staff members, monitors critical infrastructure, and coordinates IT solutions and services.

Exemplary Team Recognition Award

The OVC companion animal surgery team of Pat Davis, Stacey Harkness, Leslie Reid, Melinda Hanssen and Stephanie Roberts was honoured for anticipating the needs of surgeons and requirements of clinical procedures, and for providing exceptional care to clients, patients and students in the OVC Health Sciences Centre.

Excellence in Health and Safety Award

Dennis Watson, a sergeant with campus police who has worked at U of G for 33 years, was recognized for providing leadership, guidance and support to staff, faculty and students.

Also recognized at today’s event were 132 staff members with at least 25 years of service at U of G.