Campus Life

Recognizing the recipients of the 2023 President's Awards for Service Excellence

The University of Lethbridge President's Office is pleased to announce the 2023 recipients of the President's Award for Service Excellence.

AUPE recipient — Crystal Volk

A key professional in Student Affairs, Crystal Volk, executive assistant, is being recognized with the President’s Award for Service Excellence (AUPE).

Volk provides support to Kathleen Massey, vice-provost Student Affairs, and Dr. Mark Slomp, executive director of Student Services, as well as Natasha Buis-Deering, executive director (SEM) and registrar. She’s an integral part of the Student Affairs leadership team who’s always willing to lend a hand. Volk is highly organized, proactive, energetic, enthusiastic and unfailingly reliable. She also cares deeply about students and their success.

Volk worked with Slomp to launch the Work2Learn program for students. The program provides enriching on-campus work experiences for students with financial need. With about 40 students hired at various times and in various roles in departments across Student Affairs, as well as other areas such as Agility, the need for organization is paramount to the program’s success. Volk keeps meticulous records of the students hired, available budget and fund transfers. The program has grown substantially over the past 18 months and is highly valued by both students and their on-campus employers. Volk has been instrumental in achieving this success.

Another area that bears Volk’s handprint is the REC Rooms project. The goal of the program is to support the creation of social infrastructure to improve student social and mental health. Given a short time line to launch the program, Volk’s organization and coordination were essential to successfully getting the project off the ground. She ordered supplies, set up the event, managed the budget and ensured every detail was considered.

Volk has also been at the centre of many other initiatives on campus, such as the TEDx event a few years ago and being a co-chair of the Food for Thought Committee. Since taking on the latter role, she has co-led her colleagues to expand the programming to address food insecurity and increased the size of the network of collaborators. As part of the committee, Volk is working on engaging students in the Campus Roots Community Garden and looking into expanding current programming to provide students with greater access to fresh produce at affordable costs. As such, she provides value not only to Student Affairs, but the entire campus community. She’s also an avid dragon boater who enjoys getting to know her University colleagues on the Luxie Dux team.

More than anything, Volk’s colleagues characterize her as a kind, welcoming person who can be counted on to help with a complex problem and offer support. Her colleagues, whether in Student Affairs, the registrar’s office or the students’ union, respect her as an informal leader and describe her as the engine of Student Affairs.

APO recipient — Cathy Kanashiro

The University of Lethbridge is pleased to present Cathy Kanashiro (BMgt ’91), a certified professional accountant, with the President’s Award for Service Excellence (APO).

Recently promoted to Associate Vice-President Finance, Kanashiro formerly worked as the Senior Financial Officer and Director, Finance and Administration, in the Faculty of Arts & Science. There she served under several deans, including Drs. Bhagwan Dua, Chris Nicol, Craig Cooper and Matthew Letts. She developed a deep understanding of policies and procedures in the Faculty, allowing her to excel in managing its complex budget. This in-depth knowledge made her the go-to person for answers or advice. Over the years, Kanashiro took on more duties within the Faculty. She held a supervisory role and had many staff reporting directly to her. She learned about human resources, collective agreements and financial administration across faculties. Her service to the University has undoubtedly improved the efficiency and effectiveness of University operations as a whole.

When financial cuts imposed by the provincial government affected the University’s operating budget, Kanashiro was able to find efficiencies that allowed for continued provision of high-quality service. Even when dealing with a resource-constrained environment, Kanashiro found ways to support requests that impacted the student experience. She made a vital contribution to the reputation of both the Faculty and the University.

In her new role, Kanashiro pays keen attention to the needs of the various faculties, balancing the need for financial sustainability with attending to the most urgent needs. She listens carefully and provides experienced advice. She puts the needs of the University first, offering her assistance to other faculties and units without their own financial officers. Her keen eye allows her to find innovative solutions to complex problems or spot an opportunity for optimization. Her involvement doesn’t end there, as she also lends her skills to the broader community.

Kanashiro has been an advocate for APOs in her roles on the APO Executive committee, most recently as Chair. She has also participated on several community boards over the years and continues to volunteer with charitable organizations, including the Womanspace Resource Centre.

A true resource for the University, Kanashiro takes her duties seriously and always has its best interests in mind. Her experience has given her a broad base of knowledge about the institution’s financial management and she uses that wisdom to find the best possible solutions.

Team award recipients — Communications, Marketing and Government Relations

The Communications, Marketing and Government Relations department will receive the President’s Award for Service Excellence (Team) and is recognized for its outstanding contributions and dedication to the University.

This team brings together communications, public relations, marketing, graphic designers, digital and government relations professionals, and exemplifies the phrase, “we are stronger together.”

Working with colleagues from across the institution, this team served the University through the extraordinary pandemic period including communication support through the Emergency Operations Centre and the relaunch efforts through the Return to Campus committee. The team stayed connected with the Government of Alberta and Alberta Health Services to gain insights into new regulations and, as a result, the University was able to work on directions in advance. They worked long hours communicating new and changing information quickly and effectively to the campus community.

In the midst of uncertainty, the team continued to work diligently to support the University’s key goals and priorities, and tell the University’s story by profiling students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and community partners. They work collaboratively with units and faculties across the University, building relationships and providing resources and advice. The outcomes of their collective efforts can be seen on websites and social channels, in the news, at events and in your inbox each week. Working behind the scenes to create and curate content, connect with media, capture stunning photos, develop beautifully designed graphics and materials, create engaging videos, build websites, develop targeted marketing campaigns and advocate for the institution, each team member plays a unique and important role in raising the University’s profile.

Their combined efforts have had a tremendous positive impact on the University’s reputation and brand. Some recent highlights include the coordinated institutional approach to convocation communications, story pitches that resulted in millions of dollars-worth of earned media, record attendance at the Fall 2022 Open House, and advocacy work that helped support the investment of $3 million in planning funds for Destination II, as well as a specific directive within Alberta’s Advanced Education Minister’s mandate letter around training of health professionals to support areas outside of Alberta’s major centres.

Above all, being presented with the President’s Award for Service Excellence acknowledges the realization of the network model and recognizes individuals and teams coming together to work collaboratively and ultimately create a greater impact.

It will be exciting to see what the Communications, Marketing and Government Relations team and campus partners will accomplish in the future and the new synergies that will develop as they continue to move forward together.