'You make this place great'
Ida Giannelli has counted herself among the recipients of Concordia’s Long Service Award twice in 25 years.
”It means even more to me this year,” said the employment assistant with Human Resources. “I feel appreciated. I feel good. I feel like I’m working for an institution that knows me as a person.”
Giannelli’s position also gives her a unique vantage point on what it means to work at the university. “When job candidates ask me how long I’ve been at Concordia, many are surprised. They aren’t used to work places where there is so much potential for growth,” she said.
Reconnecting with colleagues
The December 4 luncheon was also a time to say thank you to those who recently retired from Concordia. Nancy Brennan worked in the Department of Applied Human Sciences for more than three decades before retiring last year. So far, it has been bittersweet.
“I miss the contact with students and the people I worked with,” she said. “Though I don’t mind saying goodbye to the early mornings!”
Brennan appreciated the chance to reconnect with colleagues like Mary Maly who’s been teaching biology for 40 years.
“When you look at your Long Service cohort, you get a snapshot of what was happening at the university in those years, where there was hiring, and what was going on,” said Maly.
For Carolina Willsher, associate vice-president of Human Resources, the event is an opportunity to highlight how integral Concordia’s employees are to the university’s success.
“We honour ideas and work that have made us a great institution. We never stop striving for first-rate work and creating a first-rate experience for our faculty, staff and students,“ she said.
“We know Concordia is a top employer. And looking around the room, it isn’t hard to see why. You make this place great!”
'It takes all of us to make things go well'
Deputy provost Lisa Ostiguy represented the university’s faculty members at the luncheon. She drew upon her own 25 years at Concordia to illustrate how much life has changed for professors.
“In my early days at the university, I shared an office space and a phone line with a long extension cord so that my colleague and I could pass the phone from one desk to another. We also had a shared computer that was on wheels and moved from office to office,” she recalled.
She said she saw Concordia shift from being, primarily, a teaching institution to one focused on comprehensive research.
“People are talking about us at the water coolers, the barbeques, and the hockey rinks, about the quality of the education that we’re offering and the environment that we’re creating for staff and faculty members,” said Alan Shepard, Concordia’s president.
“It takes all of us to make things go well at the university – from research, to student services, to support services, it all adds up to make a quality environment,” he said.
'I never thought of working anywhere else'
This was the last year for Suresh Goyal, professor at the John Molson School of Business (JMSB), to attend the luncheon in celebration of his years of service. Next year, he’ll be invited back as a new retiree. Goyal left Concordia in June, after 35 years teaching supply chain management.
“Until retirement, I never thought of working anywhere else. I really loved teaching at Concordia and enjoyed being active on the faculty council,” he said.
Enza de Cubellis, director of the University Secretariat, first entered the Concordia environment as a student, before moving over to being an employee in 1992. She spoke at the luncheon as a representative of all the honorees.
“Our Concordia community gives us the opportunity to participate out loud in the moral landscape. It facilitates openness of spirit and precious freedom,” she said.
“So profound is my sense of this community that I remember cheering crazy-out-loud when the Concordia women’s team won gold. And I hate hockey!” she joked.
'My best teachers are my students'
Professor Raye Kass is an expert in communities. Her reputation in team building, leadership and small group behaviour is such that, for 20 years, space programs have been turning to her to coach astronauts on how to be effective team members. She is even acting as an advisor to the Mars One space mission.
“Astronauts are under great pressure. They’ve got to know how to deal with each other. It’s not like they can just go home, so the human factor is key,” she says.
For 45 years, her base community has been Concordia, where she works in the Department of Applied Human Sciences. As an expert in organizational change, she has a particular view of the Long Service and Retirement Luncheon.
“It’s quite energizing to see the mélange of those who’ve been here at different points in Concordia’s history. It reflects a community of diversity in ages and stages of life.”
“If you believe the statistic, only two per cent of people love what they do. I’m one of the two per cent. After 45 years, I still have the excitement, I still feel a sense of purpose, I still feel I make a difference, and my best teachers continue to be my students.”
Read more about Concordia’s Long Service Awards.