'Working with students really keeps you young'
Concordia is hosting a special farewell event on May 23 to recognize 109 employees who are leaving the university this year after applying to the Voluntary Retirement Program (VRP).
The university made the program available to eligible full-time faculty and staff members as part of a plan to help preserve its long-term financial sustainability.
In anticipation of the occasion, we are profiling Concordians whose dedication, service and achievements are representative of this year’s many VRP participants.
Margaret Robertson: keeping things in order
Media and document delivery supervisor
43 years at Concordia
Margaret Robertson likes to keep things organized, especially when it comes to books, periodicals, documents and media at the Vanier Library, where she has worked for the past 43 years.
“It’s gratifying to help students and faculty find what they need to help them further their studies and careers,” says Robertson, who’s retiring from her position as supervisor of media and document delivery.
“Keeping things in order streamlines that process and allows us to help people more efficiently.”
Robertson began shelving books at Vanier part-time, then took a full-time position at the circulation desk.
“It really keeps you young to work with the public,” she says. “You have to stay current to relate to them.”
She then worked as reserve assistant, putting books on short-term loan, before becoming the supervisor of periodicals in 1988. Soon, she was supervising media as well.
“The library evolves constantly, so our roles change with the times,” she says.
Lately, Robertson has been working on the Webster Library Transformation, helping to move and update the collection. This has involved making floor plans, directing movers, bar coding and finding duplicates in the collection.
She also oversees the new motorized compact shelving for reference and periodicals, and supervises article delivery for students and professors.
“The library is like a family,” says Robertson. “After 43 years, you know them, you know their families, you go to their children’s weddings. You see colleagues fall in love and get married. You have a life together.”
When she leaves the university at the end of May, Robertson plans to devote more time to crafting, gardening and aqua fit, and visiting siblings across North America.
Abraham I. Brodt: rewarded by student success
Department of Finance chair and professor of finance
Department of Finance
34 years at Concordia
Abraham Brodt’s former finance students have gone on to become senior portfolio managers and executive directors at successful companies including Formula Growth, Deutsche Bank Securities and CIBC World Markets.
He takes great satisfaction from watching his students excel in the workplace.
“I like to joke that if I got a royalty on their salaries, I could’ve retired years ago,” he laughs. “Their success reflects well on how we prepare students at Concordia.”
Brodt is known for teaching “FINA 411 Portfolio Management” over the years. He was also the founding director of the Kenneth Woods Portfolio Management Program (KWPMP), which he oversaw for 13 years.
KWPMP provides a select group of JMSB undergraduates with training in investment management. They work with a real-life portfolio, which has grown from $1 million to over $2.5 million since the program started in 2000.
“We looked at how other schools structured their program and came up with our model with client committees, mentors and internships,” Brodt says. “Companies are always impressed with the Concordia interns.”
Under Brodt’s guidance, KWPMP Fund Managers placed first in the Undergraduate Division “Core-style Portfolio” category at the Annual Redefining Investment Strategy Education (R.I.S.E.) Symposium portfolio competition at the University of Dayton in Ohio, in 2009.
A total of 50 entries were submitted in various categories for undergraduate and graduate portfolios. The competition selected winners based on their risk-adjusted performance for the calendar year 2008.
For the last three years, Brodt has served as chair of his department. He was also chair from 1996 to 1998. “It has been a busy three years, between recruiting new hires and expanding our program offerings,” he says.
The department is also introducing new courses at the undergraduate and graduate level, including a class in corporate governance.
After retiring, Brodt says he plans to upgrade his own education by taking courses in philosophy and religion.
Christine Mota: tireless promoter
Director of media relations and official university spokesperson
University Communications Services (UCS)
23 years at Concordia
If Chris Mota’s phone rings at 5 a.m., she knows who’s calling. It’s most likely a radio station seeking an expert from Concordia to talk about a fast-breaking news story.
“I now have a roster of experts who are happy to get to the radio station for 6 a.m. or write an op-ed piece,” she says.
She marvels at how much university communications has changed at Concordia since she started back in 1993. When the position of director of media relations and official university spokesperson was created in 2006, Mota was the first person to hold it.
“There was a shift in thinking at the time, that this publicly funded institution should talk about what it does and its successes,” says Mota. “Creating the director position gave media relations more visibility, and the Take Pride strategic direction only strengthened our mandate.”
This year, Mota received a CCSL Outstanding Contribution Award from the dean of students.
Mota’s work involves following the news cycle, setting communications priorities, educating journalists on university operations, reacting to breaking stories and putting together institutional messages for hot-button issues.
“Promoting something you care about makes the day enjoyable,” she says.
Mota’s retirement plans include taking language courses, consulting, and spending more time with her husband, two adult daughters and her 16-month-old grandson.
Read more about Concordia's 2017 VRP honourees.
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