Awarding excellence from our staff


By Paul Mayne
Thursday, January 27, 2011
“Backbone of the department.
“A joy to work with.”
“Goes above and beyond.”
These are but a few of the observations of this year’s Western Award of Excellence winners. This year’s seven top staff members will be honoured to kick-off the Staff & Leaders’ Conference on Feb. 22.
The internal award is designed to recognize the tremendous work staff performs in support of providing the best student experience.
“This award program celebrates those staff members whose knowledge, skills and commitment represent the best of our campus community. I want to congratulate the seven individuals who have been recognized by their peers and colleagues as the newest recipients,” says Western President Amit Chakma. “To be honoured in this way by those who work most closely with them certainly speaks highly of the excellent qualities they bring to their jobs on a daily basis."
Winners are chosen for their exemplary service, creativity and innovation, the ability to share their knowledge and expertise and their capacity to foster their values of integrity and respect across campus.
This year’s winners of the university’s highest form of campus-wide recognition are Kimi Maruoka (School of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies), Elisa Kilbourne (Philosophy), Sherri Waring (Biology), Haitao Yang (Psychology), Jan Shepherd McKee (Engineering), Meredith Legault (Research Accounting) and Ruth Harland (Conference Services).

Elisa Kilbourne
Administrative assistant, Department of Philosophy
Referred to many times as the “backbone of the department,” ask anyone in the Philosophy Department about Elisa Kilbourne and the narrative will include phrases like “unwavering dedication,” “tireless efforts” and “forever in her debt.” Kilbourne is involved with a number of service projects at Western including Relay for Life, heading United Way fundraising in the department and participation in the university’s Alternative Spring Break service project. With the physical move of the department in 2009, Kilbourne's dedication to keeping the department running speaks to her rare personal and professional qualities. She coordinated normal department functionings around renovations, liasioned with the construction crews and assisted faculty, graduate and undergraduate students who, admittedly, could not have made such a transition without Kilbourne’s capableness.

Kimi Maruoka
Coordinator (Graduate Program Liaison), School of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies
Kimi Maruoka is an exceptionally professional yet approachable person. The commitment to her job, and by extension to the Western community, shows in her everyday interactions with her knowledgeable, pleasant and efficient manner of communication. The School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies sees Maruoka as a great leader who clearly communicates important messages to all who represent graduate programs at Western. Maruoka is not confined within the borders of her job description and will not turn down an opportunity to go above and beyond in helping someone else. She is always willing to help in such a way that makes the person on the receiving end a witness to her professionalism, efficiency and kindness.

Meredith Legault
Financial officer, Financial Services
Meredith Legault approaches every interaction with the utmost professionalism. Western's researchers are funded by many different research sponsors. As every single project is unique, the management of so many is immense. But to Legault, this daunting task has become second nature. Legault, referred to as a “godsend” and “a star” in the books of so many researchers, is an excellent ambassador in managing millions of dollars of research funding. She graciously and proactively offers her vast experience, knowledge and support in research administration. Her commitment to detail and enthusiastic and conscientious problem-solving exemplifies Western’s values.

Haitao Yang
Computer system administrator, Department of Psychology
Haitao Yang is one person a lot of folks count on. His focus remains on software development, network maintenance and support/maintenance for more than 60 computers. That means the research of more than a dozen faculty members, and at least twice as many graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, is dependent on Yang’s skills. In addition to his invaluable technical expertise and computer competence, Yang is also extremely friendly and thoughtful of others. He demonstrates creativity and innovation in his work, and goes well beyond the call of duty to ensure his work is complete. The assistance to his colleagues is, without fail, cheerful and prompt and done with such apparent ease.

Jan Shepherd McKee
Associate director (Undergraduate Services), Faculty of Engineering 
Jan Shepherd McKee’s contributions to Western, particularly to the faculty, staff and students within Western Engineering, are overwhelming. She takes a participatory approach with the work she does. Her dedication and strong ability to network, analyze and develop innovative tools that complement the counseling process demonstrates her commitment to the students and staff within her unit. Shepherd McKee’s transparent leadership skills and modes of communication make her a unique individual in the sometime chaotic fever of an undergraduate office. Student satisfaction, maximum efficiency and timely completion of academic undergraduate activities are her motto. She is a true team player, and a transformational leader in all that she does at Western Engineering.

Sherri Waring
Human resources, Department of Biology
Sherri Waring is incredibly organized, efficient, competent, knowledgeable and friendly. But so are many other employees at Western. What makes her stand above the crowd is her willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty and her positive ‘can do’ attitude, regardless of the crisis of the day. Waring provides a seamless interface between graduate and undergraduate students and the processes involved in daily departmental operations in Biology. Being so efficient, many students (and faculty/staff for that matter) don't even realize how much she does for them. Waring’s loyalty and dedication to her department, as well as her unfailing character of treating everyone with dignity and respect has become a daily occurrence, according to colleagues.

Ruth Harland
Manager (Conference Services), Hospitality Services
Ruth Harland is a face that is recognized by many at Western – and she, in turn, also recognizes many faces. Harland keeps the personal touch alive. In a time of technology overload where e-mail rules, she is one of the few who still takes the time to actually pick up the phone and call people. Within Conference Services, Harland embraces her leadership role and promotes a willingness to take on large and challenging projects with her very determined and motivated attitude. She is well respected for her friendly and easy manner, and inclusive nature. Acknowledged as the ‘go-to person’ no matter what the needs of Hospitality Services or the university, Harland always steps up to the plate to get things done.


Also from this web page:


8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(holidays excluded)


Helen Connell (

Jason Winders (

Paul Mayne (

Heather Travis (

Advertising Coordinator:

Denise Jones (

Off-Campus Advertising Sales:
Chris Amyot, Campus Ad (

National Advertising Representative:
Campus Plus



Western News, Suite 360
Westminster Hall
The University of Western Ontario, London N6A 3K7














Western provides the best student experience among Canada's leading research-intensive universities.