Faculty of Arts’ Unsung Heroes

To mark McGill’s Bicentennial celebrations, faculties, central units, associations and unions across McGill were asked to nominate faculty and staff who’ve made a significant impact in McGill’s community- the “Unsung Heroes” who make McGill great.

Over the last few months, several current and retired members of the Faculty of Arts have been nominated as our “Unsung Heroes.”  Congratulations to all of our hardworking staff who have dedicated their time and efforts to the Faculty of Arts. 

*the following profiles and photos were featured on McGill's Bicentennial website over the last academic year. 

Anne Turner, 2002 - present

Anne Turner was hired in 2002 to lead the newly created Arts Internship Office (AIO). Her task was a daunting one, as up to that point, the Faculty of Arts didn’t have any organized way of helping students add work experience to their academic journey. In fact, there was even some resistance to the idea that McGill had any responsibility to help students develop professional skills for “life after a BA”. It was necessary for Anne, along with the Associate Dean, to work patiently with each department, encouraging them to develop course credits for students who engaged in meaningful collaborations with corporate and community organizations. She accomplished this task quickly, mainly due to her calm demeanor and rational arguments.

At this time, I was Director of McGill’s Career Planning Service (CaPS) and we often met students who wanted to find internships during their summers or part-time during the year. Once I encountered Anne, I knew she would be a strong ally in raising the visibility of these important experiences for students in the Faculty. We worked together to provide students with the tools they needed to find their own internships, and came up with resources to help them land those internships by improving their CV and interview skills.

Since those small beginnings, Anne has sewn internships deeply into the fabric of the Faculty, where they are now seen as a very important part of the Arts experience — hundreds of Arts students go off each year to experiences locally, nationally and internationally.

As many internships are unpaid, Anne needed to find ways for all students to have these experiences, not just those who were financially well-off. To that end, she reached out to donors who helped fund grants that covered travel and living costs so that undertaking an internship would be viable for more students. Almost 20 years later, there are now dozens of awards that students can apply for to help them undertake an internship.
Later, Anne expanded the mandate of the office to include Arts Research Internship Awards (ARIA), which give undergraduate students the opportunity to gain meaningful research experiences with professors at McGill.

Anne is an unsung hero because she has achieved these major accomplishments while modestly keeping to the background herself, and encouraging students to be the face of the AIO. I salute her and her achievements.

Nominated by a former colleague at McGill Career Planning Service

Kathleen Holden, 2002- present 

 

Kathleen Holden is an unsung hero of the highest order. In her role as Prizes and Awards Officer she assists in showcasing the very best of our what Faculty members contribute in their respective fields. She directly contributes to the Faculty’s success, by helping Faculty members obtain their much deserved grants and prestigious awards. Her editing skills, knowledge of our Academic community, and dedication to her job make her an immeasurable asset to the Faculty of Arts. In addition to her professional skills, Kathleen is warm hearted and thoughtful and a great person to work with. She cares about those around her and is a fiercely loyal friend and colleague.

Estelle Hopmeyer 1970-2015 (retired)

Estelle Hopmeyer was in her final year of a BA in economics and political science at McGill in 1962 when she began volunteering at Neighborhood House.
She worked with after school groups of children and teenagers. It was this experience that led her to a career in social work. In her first year of study with specialization in group work she was assigned to a placement at University Settlement on St Urbain Street.

Part of her work consisted of running an after-school group for kids which included home visits. This experience convinced Estelle that her choice of social work was a good decision. She joined the Faculty of the School of Social Work at McGill in 1970 and, in addition to her teaching and scholarly activities, has invested herself in group work, particularly issues of bereavement and non-bereavement loss.

Besides her roles as a teacher and group leader, Estelle has served as student ombudsperson, Associate & Acting Director of the School of Social Work from 2002 to 2005 and President of the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work.

She was very active in community service. She served on the Health Canada Consultative Committee for English speaking minority communities and the regional committee for access to health and social services in English (Montreal). She was on the Board of CSSS Cavendish serving as second vice president and chairperson of the Director General Evaluation Committee. She also served as consultant to many self-help groups in the community. She helped start the self-help group FSOS (Family Survivors of Suicide), where she continued as a consultant until recently.

Stanley Whyte, 2008-Present 

Stanley Whyte (Chief Invigilator, Enrolment Services) oversees approximately 60,000 exams run at McGill each regular academic term. Behind the scenes, it is Stanley Whyte who manages on a grand scale this process vital to university life with a steady hand. He is responsible for the creation of all exam schedules, and he manages exam production for all formal final exams held in undergraduate courses. He supervises the team of exams and invigilation coordinators. And he oversees the process of scoring thousands of answer sheets for all multiple-choice exams. Among those who contact him daily for advice and support, he is widely admired for consummate professionalism, accuracy, collegiality, and kindness– he never misses a beat.

At Arts OASIS, we know him as someone with whom it is consistently a pleasure to work with—on whom we can always rely for answers, support, and getting things done. Although anxiety comes along with exams, he is always at the ready with a quick response and compassionate remark, the elegant flexible solution, and good humour.  As we nominate him, we note that his colleagues are “very happy” that he’s receiving this nomination – this has been emphasized to us. His pivotal work at the university, indispensable to a process sometimes unwelcome but crucial to student experience and learning, often goes unrecognized, and they are delighted by the prospect of wider recognition for his excellent work.

Leslie Chalmers, 2010-Present

Leslie Chalmers is the manager of the class scheduling service that prepares the class timetable every year, which can be one of the most thankless and difficult jobs in the University. Each year she faces countless obstacles, from McGill’s deferred maintenance situation that takes large classrooms out of action for terms or whole years, to professors who submit unavailability forms that make it literally impossible to schedule their classes, to other, sudden and random events that cause havoc with the schedule, such as classroom flooding, fires, and all the disruption and rescheduling caused by elections, snow days, and so on.


Leslie quietly fixes all of these and many more problems, behind the scenes, with minimum fuss and the utmost professionalism, even maintaining a sense of humour in the process, like her response to my call during add/drop to ask if we could double the size of a POLI class with the pithy “Are you high?” She found me a larger room, regardless, taking the time to understand the request and exploring every option. Those investigations take time, knowledge, and flexibility to make adjustments in the face of very limited resources and parameters. Often those adjustments have knock-on effects that cause more work for Leslie or her team, but she makes them anyway. Most of the time, students, professors and department chairs are unaware of the work that has gone on, which is why I think she is the perfect unsung hero.

Nominated by a staff member from the Faculty of Arts

Lynda Bastien, 1977-2021 

Lynda Bastien is an amazing professional and human being. All through my graduate school years she’s shown genuine concern and support for graduate students and faculty. When I first started my grad studies, everything was new to me, very overwhelming at times. Lynda literally would take me through many situations and procedures, often reminding of important things lest I forget and miss a deadline. She always helped with putting applications together, with getting issues resolved at various points in the complex university administrative system. Quite often, having forgotten how to find something, I’d ask her, and Lynda would explain/email links/info/etc. everything in detail with amazing patience and a cheerful attitude. It’s hard to enumerate each and every instance during my 8 years at McGill when Lynda came to my rescue, but through all of that she has always, and I mean always, been cheerful, upbeat, exceptionally patient and understanding.

I’ll never forget how much she helped me with the timely submission of both my Master’s thesis and PhD dissertation. With my thesis it was a particularly difficult situation because I left the country for a month, having missed one of the important steps in the thesis submission procedure (because, somehow, I missed that piece of information when I read the instructions). Had it not been for her help, I would not have submitted my thesis on time. She has an amazing combination of honed professionalism and a great personality. She also has a special touch: even though I know that she is great with everyone, when I talk/work with her, I feel like she’s concerned with me personally. And that’s very important: she finds a personalized, individual approach to everyone and shows genuine concern and interest in everyone. She is a very sensitive, understanding person, as well as an excellent professional. She always, and I mean always, goes above and beyond her mere duties. I’m very grateful for all her help and support, and I wholeheartedly nominate her for this award.

Nominated by a colleague at the Faculty of Arts

Mylissa Falkner, 2001- Present

Mylissa joined the Faculty of Arts in 2001. She has taken on a number of positions during this time, making many friends along the way. Currently, she is leading the team in the Arts Office of Advising and Student Information Services — a unit that helps hundreds of Arts students every week.

Mylissa is a true leader. She inspires colleagues with her positive attitude, her unique approach to work, and her ability to bring people together and to foster collaboration.

Her openness to new ideas has helped unlock the creativity and potential of her fellow colleagues. She recently championed a proposed revamp of communications with Arts students. The first step in this transition was implemented in the spring of 2019 and has yielded great results, setting a new standard for engaging with one of the faculty’s most important stakeholder groups.

Nominated by a colleague in the Faculty of Arts

Anna Coscia, 2005-Present

Anna is the epitome of a dedicated worker. She excels in her role as HR Advisor at the Faculty of Science, and perseveres in the most challenging of times. Anna seeks out opportunities for improvement in the work environment and to enhance the life of all employees. She keenly embraces opportunities to learn new skills and to then provide training and support to others.

Projects that she has worked on and implemented have had a lasting and highly impactful result on the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Science. She has the most wonderful laugh and makes those around her feel heard, valued and appreciated. Her expertise is sought after in many corners of the University and she consistently demonstrates her resilience, approachability and zest for life.

Nominated by a member of staff at the Faculty of Arts

Catherine Bradley, 1988-Present

Catherine Bradley has been Head of Wardrobe at the Moyse Hall Theatre for over thirty years. She works behind the scenes to create costumes for the two productions staged in Moyse Hall each academic year. These shows are an important part of the teaching mission of the Department of English’s Drama and Theatre programme and of the public face of McGill University. They would simply not happen without Catherine’s talent and dedication. As an experienced and skilled costume designer, Catherine could easily create costumes for a show on her own or have students build costumes that she has designed, but instead, she mentors and supports the students in her classes through all stages of the costuming process. Catherine encourages them to conduct research projects and to propose directions for specific characters’ costumes. She makes the work personal for students by giving them a say in what the costumes will look like. They then get to build the costumes or find and alter existing wardrobe pieces in clever and imaginative ways.

Catherine’s colleagues in the Moyse Hall production team attest that she is a wonderful collaborator. She supports the director, actors, and the rest of the design team (set, lights, sound) and is always aware of what the production needs as a whole, never solely focusing on costumes. Catherine is a committed member of the Department who has made important contributions to curricular reform and hiring processes. She is also an active researcher and received SSHRC funding for the innovative Digital Costume Project.

Nominated by a colleague at the Faculty of Arts.

 

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