Michelle McNeil   2012 Distinguished Service Award

Michelle McNeill is a very worthy  recipient of the University of New Brunswick’s Distinguished Service Award this year.  After being a UNB residence student, a House President and a Don, in 2003 Michelle began full-time in Conference Services at UNB Fredericton.  She started with a needs-assessment and overhauled the Conference Services operation in that year, improving efficiency and professionalism and establishing a five year strategic plan to grow Conference Services business.  At the end of those five years, by 2008, Conference Services had achieved a 65% increase in revenues, more 20% above target.  Michelle was able to do this partly by forging strong relationships with both internal partners interested in hosting conferences and with such external agencies as the Canadian Universities & Colleges Conference Organizers Association (CUCCOA) and Rendez-Vous Fredericton.  In the process, she has established UNB  Conference Services as a leader in the Canadian collegiate conferencing industry.   Michelle served on the CUCCOA Board from 2005 to 2009 and on the Rendez-Vous Fredericton Board from 2003 to the present.   Internally, Michelle chaired the Campus Services Marketing Committee from 2003 to 2008—which eventuated in a report to the then VP (Academic) Angelo Belcastro.  Ultimately this lead to a restructuring of Conference Services, which initially saw the Wu Centre, and ultimately  the SUB, AUC and Central Booking Unit, under the Residential Life, Campus & Conference Services umbrella.

In 2006-07, Michelle introduced such new technologies, as Reg-OnLine and Conference Programmer, to enhance Conference Services as a one-stop shop for clients seeking meeting and conference-related services on the UNB Fredericton campus.  Paired with a well-conceived sales and marketing strategy, this resulted in continued success in building business and attracting major new clients with conferences such as the ResNet Symposium (2008)—in which Yale University was among our unsuccessful competitors, the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (2009), the Canadian Mathematics Association (2010), and Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences (2011).  During this time, Michelle was also pursuing a Masters degree in Business Administration, at UNB F, which she completed in 2009.  (But all this didn’t keep her busy enough—with her husband Colin she also had her first child during the period, and she and Colin are looking forward to their second now!)

Throughout all the roles Michelle has played in Conference Services, she has maintained a commitment to advocating for the valuable roles that Conference Services plays in the university and broader community: these include producing a positive economic impact, increasing community outreach, enhancing the student experience, showcasing our research and strengthening UNB and Fredericton’s brand locally, nationally and internationally.

In 2006, Michelle held the final pen on what became the UNB, Fredericton and St. Thomas proposal to host the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in 2011. Initially, she coordinated the site visit of the Congress staff in 2007 and when UNB won the bid,   Michelle became a very active member of the steering committee for that event, ultimately accepting the position of Project Manager.  The team overcame significant challenges in hosting Congress in our community:  Michelle led a team of hundreds of staff, faculty, students and volunteers to plan and deliver the complex logistics of a successful Congress that saw more than 5,000 delegates and 2,500 sessions over a 9 day period.  In doing so, Michelle demonstrated exceptional negotiation, collaboration and consensus-building skills, as well as the ability to contribute to motivating large teams of people to work towards this common goal. 

In addition, Michelle has engaged a wide variety of charity and service work in the community.  A couple of examples among many are  her membership on the Cops for Cancer fund-raising committee from 1998 to 2002 and her continuing membership on the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, which dates back to 2003. In all that she does Michelle regularly makes all of us proud to be associated with UNB.

James Brown, Director, Residential Life & Conference Services
Linda Kealey
, Professor of History
March 13, 2012