Colette Keith   2015 Distinguised Services Award


With great pleasure and anticipation, the UNB-SJ Biology Department wishes to recognize Ms. Colette Keith for her outstanding contribution to the work and well-being of our Department and campus community.

Colette has a long and distinguished history at UNB-SJ: beginning in September 1984 with the Division of Humanities and Languages and moving to Biology in June 1995. In her 30 years with UNB-SJ (nearly 20 with Biology) she has been an active participant in the campus community at multiple levels. In many ways Colette is now the cornerstone of our Department, an important contributor to its professional work and to the strong social fabric that unifies it in its efforts.

Biology is known to be very dynamic and committed to both teaching and research. As the sole administrative assistant of our Department, which comprises 15 full time faculty members, 45-55 graduate students and over 150-200 undergraduate students, Colette's workload is substantial, even if it was limited to her formal "job description", which it is not. Constantly busy meeting our needs and keeping us organized, she is a masterful juggler of multiple/competing task, as well as varying personalities!

Colette takes her commitment far beyond what is required. Virtually every person in the department is dependent on Colette's ability to solve problems, deal with students, track down information and avert or control potential disasters. Much of the department's success is the result of her organizational skills and personal commitment to the outcomes. It would not be an overstatement to say that Colette is at the core of the day-to-day running of the department and
the associated activities of its faculty, undergraduate students and even graduate students. (Although Colette is not formally responsible for graduate students, she is often called upon to assist them with various tasks, which she invariably accomplishes swiftly and with a smile.). Colette not only juggles the administrative, academic and research needs of the Biology Department, but she does it with the highest possible level of professionalism and positive
attitude. On any given day, there are a multitude of requests made of her time and talents - dropping by her office, calling or sending an email - yet she manages to move between tasks quickly, efficiently, and with personal warmth and humour that validates and enlivens.

Department Chairs are most keenly aware of the major role Colette plays in the day-to-day activities of the Department. Colette is a very efficient (often pro-active!), industrious and pleasant administrative assistant to the Department and its successive Chairs. We have all come to Jearn that we can count on her to run the daily operations of the Department, understand and manage the departmental budget, and prepare materials professionally to be ready when needed.

In fact, she alerts the Chair to important tasks and their timelines, and provides competent support to their realization. Her role is significant in some of his/her major jobs, such as preparing the course time table, communicating with students, preparing documents for department and various committee meetings, recording department meetings, managing web content, making and tracking purchases, preparing expense claims (e.g., travel claims, purchase
orders) and financial reports, and tracking Department expenses. One of Colette's exceptional contributions is in managing stipend teaching positions in the Department. Her strong personal commitment to fair and due process is not limited to proper advertisement to different collective groups and composition of interview committees - she goes beyond the requirements by following up with unsuccessful candidates, always thanking them for applying and wishing them
well. This is a testament to her deep compassion towards others, and undoubtedly helps maintain the Department's positive reputation. Colette's high level of commitment extends beyond the call of duty in other ways, such as by routinely answering email queries during evenings and over the weekend. Colette has become the department's "institutional memory"; people with this capacity /capability are very precious, as they enable us to avoid re-inventing numerous wheels over the years!

Contribution to the cohesion and well-being of our Department We are fortunate to have a very functional academic unit, and Colette unquestionably contributes to this both personally and professionally. Her efficient support to faculty members and staff enables us to do our work more effectively with less stress, while her humor, care and compassion contribute to a positive, safe and supportive workplace environment. Colette has learned the idiosyncrasies and foibles of our faculty members (forgetfulness and disorganization to name two) and she routinely anticipates problems these might cause and takes actions to
avoid them. For example, she reminds us when lab manuals or final exams must be prepared, tactfully masking her reminder as an offer of assistance. Her delightful sense of humor is always present, and used judiciously to raise people's spirits and sometimes diffuse potential unsettling issues. She understands the importance of social connections in a working community, and is the one to propose and organize our social events (e.g., Christmas party) and recognitions (cards and donations) when someone is ill or has lost a loved one. A large part of the cohesiveness of our department unquestionably comes from the fact that Colette frequently reminds us that there is more to being a department than accomplishing our individual tasks - that we are a team, and
that we should and can support each other beyond the walls of the classrooms or labs.


Contribution to the well-being of our campus community Colette's service to UNB-Sj has included significant involvement with her union and serving on
many committees (e.g., joint Health and Safety, Workplace Harassment). She has made significant contributions to the welfare and fair treatment of her colleagues. For example, while some are oblivious to building malfunctions, Colette has a sense of "ownership" of our campus that helps ensure it is functional- she keeps an eye on the condition of public facilities in our buildings, and quickly reports problems to the appropriate groups, helping them do their job well and ensuring that small problems (such as clogged toilets) do not become disasters. She also frequently organizes fund-raising activities for the benefit of individuals on campus who were adversely impacted by serious illness or accident, such as the recent ones for an injured cleaner, and also actively contributes to fund-raising activities for charitable organizations (e.g., United Way, School Supplies for Kids), either at the request of others, or on her own. At the same time, she encourages us all to be responsible contributors to the campus community (e.g., cleaning up our own mess!) so that we don't waste the time of staff members, including cleaners.

In summary, over the past 30 years of dedicated service at UNB-SJ, Colette's contributions to the professional activities and well-being of our Department and campus community have been exceptional in depth and range. We urge the committee to recognize Colette's generosity, compassion and invaluable contributions to the mission of UNB. It is a measure of the esteem in which we hold her that, when the idea was proposed to prepare this letter of nomination,
virtually every single faculty member and staff affiliated with the Biology Department immediately indicated their desire to sign it. Colette's services have not only been distinguished, they have benefited, and been appreciated by, us all. She is a treasure.

Members of the Biology Department - UNBSJ