The 6th annual Operations & Real Estate Partnerships (OREP) Thank You BBQ & Awards event took place at Varsity Stadium on October 5 to recognize and celebrate exceptional staff and team contributions over the past year and a half.
Over 470 OREP staff had RSVP’d, and guests were entertained throughout the event with music from the Faculty of Music’s steel pan band as they enjoyed food prepared by the culinary team at U of T’s Food Services. The names and award citations for the 119 individual and team recipients of awards were noted on the jumbotron, which also served to convey social distancing rules throughout the event. Staff were clearly excited to be able to gather together as a team, safely but socially, for the first time since the 2019 BBQ & Awards event.
Since its inception in 2015, the OREP Award ceremony has honoured over 400 OREP and shared services staff for their exceptional contributions to their particular OREP unit, the OREP portfolio and the university.
“It’s important to celebrate the efforts of our staff members that often happen behind the scenes, particularly during the pandemic,” says Professor Scott Mabury, vice-president, operations and real estate partnerships. “Our folks have gone above and beyond to keep our people safe and facilities operational. These awards are one way to recognize the incredible talent, compassion and dedication of our staff.”
Using the Event Assessment Tool (EAT) to apply COVID-19 exposure-reducing controls, strategies and precautions, the event was a great example of how teams can work within the restrictions to host morale boosting, fun events to celebrate staff and to herald the return to campus by many of our staff. .
The awards were divided into three categories: Outstanding Individual Employee Awards, Distinguished Service Awards and Outstanding Team Awards.
Recipients of the Outstanding Individual Employee Awards were recognized for their outstanding contributions that went beyond the ordinary fulfillment of their positions’ duties. Examples included adapting and creating children’s programming for virtual platforms for University Family Housing, leading groups to revise the Food Services’ operating procedures in response to COVID-19, supporting students concerned about their housing and getting home to their families during the mass move out in March 2020.
Distinguished Service Awards were given to six employees with more than 15 years of service at the university who have also made outstanding contributions beyond their ordinary duties. Among the recipients at this year’s ceremony, several had been with the university for more than 30 years.
The Outstanding Staff Team Awards were presented to teams who took on time-limited projects. Recipients included the Proactive Disinfection Team which coordinated almost daily cleaning of spaces across the St. George campus, the cross-portfolio Quarantine Housing Program team for developing and managing a program to support the safe entry and reentry of the university’s international students, and the Community Policing Initiatives teams for organizing their Holiday Toy Drive for under privileged children and Spring Sock Drive the homeless. In total, 11 teams, including 93 members from across the university, were recognized.