York long-service award recipients look back on 25 years

25 year group

Above: York’s latest 25-year employees gather for a group picture with members of the adminstration

York honoured its latest group of 25-year long service employees on Tuesday at a reception in the former Faculty Club, in what York’s President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden called, “one of the most famous and enjoyable occasions of the year.” The 33 non-academic staff members were feted for their long service and were presented with gifts as family, supervisors and members of the University’s administration looked on.

Susan Spence, director, services development & delivery, Computing & Network Services (CNS), spoke on behalf of the group and described what the world was like in 1979, back when “PC was a political party and a cell phone was your one phone call [from jail].” Accompanied by husband Ted Spence, senior policy advisor & executive director, Institutional Research & Analysis, and daughter Sandy Tieman, who was only 18 months old when her mother first arrived at York, Spence suggested on behalf of her colleagues, “we don’t look any different than we did then.” With humorous anecdotes and interesting facts, Spence led the group through a retrospective of the past 25 years.

spence familyRight: From left, Sandy Tieman, Susan Spence and husband Ted Spence

Spence’s remarks, collected from many of her co-workers, highlighted the reasons why York retains so many staff members and why, in its history, the University has seen 460 people achieve the milestone of 25 years’ service. “It’s discovery, change and people,” Spence said. “Not a week goes by…when I don’t get the chance to interact with staff and faculty who I’ve never met before. There’s always lots of interesting research, discussions and events going on and they invariably involve a real cross-section of people from the University.”

Spence also remarked on the many changes York has seen in the past quarter century and credited the strong leaders, from then president H. Ian Macdonald to President Marsden, for creating a workplace where “change [is a] constant and no two days are ever the same.”

president and dusk“York has an environment that fosters change, experimentation and challenges the old way of doing things,” Spence said, adding, staff are “continually challenged to use our brains to make decisions and make a difference.” Quoting colleague Mike Daigle, project supervisor of network operations, CNS, Spence said, “our recent re-branding has made diversity seem like something new but really it’s just building on the strength we always had.”

Above: From left, Lorna R. Marsden chats with 25-year staff member Cora Dusk, assistant vice-president student affairs

Among the many changes Spence mentioned was the advent of each new wave of technology, beginning with the arrival of a massive new computer system, “with reel-to-reel tape decks, flashing lights and a huge console…you really felt like you were in control with that thing…and there was no spam.”

embleton and turkish

Left: Sheila Embleton, vice-president academic, congratulates Larry Turkish, manager of academic support services in the Faculty of Arts’ Academic Technology Services department.

Master of Ceremonies and host Gary Brewer, vice-president finance & administration, recalled a new $400,000 computer system that more than doubled the institution’s interactive computing capacity for teaching and research, and joked, “now, that won’t even buy you a consultant.” On behalf of the “baby boomers” in the room, Spence offered a congratulatory greeting to the “net-generation” of York students by quoting another colleague’s remark that “technology is only technology for those who were born before it was invented…for the rest it’s just an appliance.”

Spence concluded her remarks by expressing the pride she and her fellow staff members felt in the University and quoted Rosetta D’Ardis, administrative officer in York’s Alumni & Advancement Services, who said, “York has grown into a place of stature and excellence and gained a renowned reputation both nationally and internationally. In fact, everyone now knows York University: but it still has a sense of community.”

For a complete list of this year’s non-academic 25-year service employees see the Nov. 30 issue of YFile.