Diane Shannon   2002 UNB Service Award Recipient

Mrs. Diane Shannon currently serves as the Undergraduate Coordinator in the Faculty of Education, but has held roles in the past as a Faculty Secretary, Departmental Administrative Secretary, and for many years as an Assistant on the Faculty's project with the Kingdom of Bhutan. She became our Undergraduate Coordinator when it became obvious to my predecessors that her insight into our program and her exceptional commitment to students made her the best advisor for our students that we could choose. Last June, Diane received her 25-year UNB pin.

Diane is always helping students. Her office is next door to mine and it's rare that I pop over and find her without a student in there. They are sometimes there for advice on program choices, but just as often they see Diane for emotional support. She helps them no matter what the problem. It has been more than a few times that Diane has gone to visit a student who was ill or upset, kept a pet for a student who had to be away, or driven a student somewhere he or she needed to go.

She is just as helpful to her colleagues. Often, when it is difficult to find a colleague to do a job, whether going through applications to ensure fast processing or to determine who should be recommended for a scholarship or a prize, Diane spends her evenings or weekends to help to get the job done.

I think of Diane as the Faculty's "conscience," the one who ensures that student needs are our first priority. Students come to her with concerns and not only does she give them strategies for handling the situations in which they find themselves, she then comes in and gives me (or another faculty member) some suggestions, too. It's her ability to see that problems need to be attacked from several angles and her "student radar" that leads to a better teaching and learning environment in our Faculty.

One of our former students jumped at the chance to participate in this nomination process. She wrote about Diane, "What really struck me was not her finesse on course advising, or her gift of calmness, it was her ability to make me feel like I was the only student in the world who was important enough to take up her time. I couldn't believe it when I left her office to see a lineup of students waiting to be the most important student in the world. To Diane, we all were."

Diane is sensitive to the needs of all students and especially takes "visitors" under her wing. Both when she worked for the Bhutan project and even after she no longer held that responsibility, Diane nurtured the Bhutanese students, serving as a surrogate family member. The fact that this has been one of UNB's most successful international projects is due, in no small measure, to Diane going the extra mile, beyond the call of duty. Even for students who have already graduated or are not in one of our programs, Diane goes out of her way to answer any question, deal with any concern, and generally ensure the student's comfort.

Diane is unusually committed to doing the best job possible; she chose to actually enrol in and complete our undergraduate program in Education, giving up two years worth of vacation to complete the teaching internship, in order to better advise our students. She explained to me that now she can tell them, first hand, what various courses are about and why and how they are useful.

Many staff members do what they are asked, but it is the exceptional one who takes the initiative and has insight into the heart of the situations with which a faculty deal; that is Diane. She has a better overall sense of how the Faculty works than almost anyone else in our unit.

Diane is admired by all students, faculty and staff. I have not met a single student or colleague who had anything but praise for Diane's work or Diane as a person. She is incredibly patient with all of us. New students who come to the Faculty of Education have all heard, through the grapevine, that "Diane is who to go to." She is the caring, compassionate, positive voice on the other end of the phone who makes UNB attractive to potential students. She only sees the best in people and students notice this. As one of our students said, "Every life she has touched has, in some way, profited. I know mine has and I am only one of many."

Over the last 25 years, Diane and I have become close friends; I feel privileged. Diane's commitment makes the Faculty of Education and UNB a better place for all of us.

Presented by Marian Small, Dean of Education
February 8, 2002