Judith Armstrong   2008 Distinguished Service Award Recipient

Throughout her career at University of New Brunswick, Ms. Judith Armstrong has contributed to the success of many students. Indeed, student success has been a central theme in Judy’s approach to her roles as Department Secretary, Undergraduate Coordinator and, most recently, as Health Sciences Administrator.

As Secretary for the Department of Physical Sciences, Judy had responsibility for many administrative duties in support of the multi-disciplinary Department; she was also the first point of contact for students and members of the public seeking guidance about numerous aspects of the Department’s programs and about University processes. Throughout her term as Department Secretary students were greeted by Judy’s friendly and knowledgeable approach to helping the individual in front of her.

Judy’s concern for students and obtaining the best possible experience they could at UNB Saint John came even more to the fore as she took on the role of Undergraduate Coordinator combining an approachable personal point of contact for students who need individual advising, with a professional approach to developing programs for groups of students entering the University, and liaison with other Departments of the University that provide services for students. She developed this new position as one which provided accessible advising for all first year students entering the Science programs, ensured that student requests and enquiries were dealt with as promptly as possible, and ensured coordination of the various advising activities within the faculty. Developing initiatives that go beyond conventional program advising but address student success was also a characteristic of Judy’s term as undergraduate coordinator. For example, in collaboration with the UNB Saint John Alumni office, Judy initiated a program in which UNB Saint John Alumni spoke to current undergraduate students about their experiences in professional programs and the work place. Recognizing that many students in the Science Faculty intend to continue to programs in Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry, and other professional schools, Judy also developed a system of visits of representatives of these schools to advise students on entry requirements and other aspects of their intended post-degree studies.

During her term as Undergraduate Coordinator, Judy developed her role as advisor and coordinator of the Bachelor of Health Sciences program. As the BHS programs have evolved and interest in innovative health education programs has increased, Judy has continued to contribute to the BHS programs and other health related programs such as the Health Sciences Minor, through her work as the Health Sciences Administrator. The inter-departmental and inter-institutional nature of these programs places various demands and challenges on the program advisor. Judy’s ability to work with the program partners including the community college and hospital based programs, to provide students with, as far as possible, a coordinated and seamless program has played an essential part in the success of these programs. As with the advising of science students, Judy has combined an ability to provide professional approaches that deal with the program as a whole with an ability to listen to the concerns of individual students and identify appropriate courses of action. While many students will have appreciated the individual attention given to their specific program issues when they met with Judy; her contributions to the BHS program as a whole have also played a vital role. For example, she has been actively involved in preparing for and taking part in the accreditation process for the streams within the BHS. A recent outcome of this has been the accreditation of each of the Nuclear Medicine, Radiography (saint John), Radiography (Moncton) and Radiation Therapy BHS programs by the CAMRT.

The inter-institutional nature of the BHS program also presents special challenges in terms of delivery and Judy has been at the forefront in identifying practical solutions to these challenges such as the delivery of courses “at a distance” to students taking their clinical placement in Moncton. Despite the challenges, the program has been successful in demonstrating the benefits of inter-institutional collaboration for health education programs and Judy has been an ambassador for the program not only at student recruitment events but also by presenting the collaboration model to educators and others, for example, at the national Partners 2004 symposium which focused on education partnerships.

In developing the new roles of Undergraduate Coordinator and Health Sciences Administrator, Judy has insisted on high standards. Indeed she has recognized from the beginning the need to learn from best practices elsewhere and to apply them to the services provided to students at UNB Saint John. To achieve this she has dedicated time and effort to establishing contact with advisors throughout North America through professional associations and conferences. Judy has worked to make program and infrastructure changes that benefit students and has contributed to the recognition by students and others of the value of the health science programs at UNB Saint John. It is not possible to precisely estimate the number of students whose educational experience has been improved by Judy’s work; however, when we take into account that virtually all incoming B.Sc. students received advising in some form from her during her term as Undergraduate Coordinator, that  all Bachelor of Health Science students receive advising from her, and that many students have heard more about their intended post degree studies or work through the innovative programs she has developed, we can appreciate that Judy’s service to UNB Saint John played a considerable role in student success at this institution.

Keith De'Bell
Mathematical Science