Administrators couldn’t decide which staff member at the Faculty of Information (iSchool) made the biggest impact over 2015-2016, so they choose two finalists—not for doing their jobs, but going beyond.
Laura Jantek and Kathy Shyjak won the annual “Susan A. Brown Administrative Staff Achievement Award” at the Faculty’s end of term celebration on April 7th.
(Pictured are Wendy Duff, Barb Brown, Laura Jantek, Susan Brown, Kathy Shyjak, and Glenn Cumming.)
“These colleagues have a combined 25 years with the University of Toronto, all at the Faculty of Information. Individually, they contribute greatly to the well-being of the students, the sm ooth running of our operation, and all with good natured smiles on their faces,” says Wendy Duff, Interim Dean of the iSchool.
The Award celebrates and honours the contributions of an iSchool staff member annually who displays competence, commitment, courtesy, and concern for others routinely; and who without fanfare or self-promotion contributes daily to the success of the Faculty of Information.
Laura Jantek (pictured below, left)
Jantek is the Admissions Officer in Student Services, where she provides administrative support for admissions and incoming students. More recently, she has taken on an additional role as an administrative assistant to the director of the doctoral program.
She is surprised and honoured by the award: “The cooperative and supportive nature of my bright, ever-patient, and knowledgeable colleagues is motivating – Student Services is a great team.”
Jantek was a librarian for more than 30 years prior to relocating to Toronto and joining the Faculty of Information. She is a graduate of Douglass College (B.A./Classics) and Rutgers University (MLS). Previous work experiences have included Virtual Librarian at Halifax Public Libraries as well as work in the university, corporate, and not-for-profit sectors.
“Working with prospective students is a lot of fun. Each applicant brings a history, a personality, and challenges to solve. It’s a nice mix of policy, procedure and problem solving!”
Jantek reports to Barb Brown, Assistant Dean, Registrarial & Student Services, who agrees Laura is a remarkable individual. “She adds insight and clarity to both strategic and operational planning within our department. Laura is a strong communicator with a mature perspective – qualities that add greatly to the general sense of well-being within our team. This along with a charismatic style and wonderful sense of the ridiculous (humour), she is often the ‘go to’ person within our area when working to solve an issue. And, most important in this role, we appreciate the warmth and caring she exhibits to students on a regular basis.”
Kathy Shyjak (pictured on right)
Raised in the rural Bruce Peninsula, Shyjak brought her country character to the big city in 1987 and began working with the iSchool in 1999. Now working as the Business Officer for the Faculty, she is used to late nights and adjusted schedules to accommodate the heavy workload and many deadlines that impact her role.
She says receiving recognition for her hard work is greatly appreciated: “As someone who worked very closely with Susan Brown, I am very touched to receive this award in her name.”
Shyjak enjoys the smaller, more intimate environment where coworkers get to know each other. “We are not just a name here, but we get to know the personality behind each name. We don’t stand on ceremony and I love working in such a strong team environment. I truly feel that there are so many others who are just as deserving of this award, but accept it with thanks and appreciation.”
Over the last few years, Shyjak has helped support a wide assortment of change initiatives that have improved the overall well-being of the iSchool.
Her supervisor, Chief Administrative Officer Glenn Cumming, says Kathy’s strong attributes are not just recognized by her colleagues at the Faculty, but across the campus. “I am not surprised colleagues felt it was a good time to acknowledge her outstanding contributions,” Cumming says. “She has excellent business judgment, valuable financial skills, a strong grasp of university policy and procedure, and ability to prioritize a series of wide-ranging work assignments. Kathy is a professional who has a ‘can-do’ attitude, enthusiasm, as well as an infectious, respectful, and consistently engaging personality.”
About the Administrative Staff Award
Three years ago, then-Assistant Dean of Administration, Susan A. Brown, retired after 31 dedicated years at the iSchool. Brown served in a variety of administrative roles in the Faculty of Information, and is known for supporting and believing in administrative staff members, and celebrating the key role they play in the work of UofT.
To honour Susan’s own achievements and service, the Faculty of Information established the “Susan A. Brown Administrative Staff Achievement Award” to recognize outstanding staff members. A Promotions Committee selects the winner from nominations by faculty members.
Jantek’s and Shyjak’s names were added to a wall plaque hanging at the iSchool, and each received $500.
The iSchool is very fortunate to have professionals of this high calibre. Congratulations to both.