March 12, 2018

Student adviser singled out for stepping up

U Make a Difference awards honour excellence

There are countless ways employees are making an impact at UCalgary — just look at the list of 2017 U Make a Difference Nominees for a range of examples of people innovating, collaborating, and contributing to a positive work environment.

Lori Somner, 2017 award recipient, has been making her mark at the university for 12 years — 15 if you count the three years she put in working one day a week before starting full-time. During her time here, she has exercised a helpful habit of going above and beyond.

When Shawn Brackett arrived in Calgary from the United States as a graduate student in the history department, Somner was one of the first people he met. Despite the fact that Somner was — at the time — an undergraduate program administrator, Brackett says she offered him warm and knowledgeable assistance as he navigated the ins and outs of Canadian academia as an international student.

“Lori regularly called over to the office to make sure I was going to the right place and knew the right person to speak with,” says Brackett. “She not only provided excellent customer service to a student — she also built a rapport with campus colleagues.” 

Somner became a graduate program administrator for the Department of History in 2016 and continues to offer caring and complete assistance to all the students who visit her office each day. She says it’s rewarding to see first-hand the difference her work can have on the student experience.

“Students are the whole reason we’re here,” says Somner. “It’s nice to work directly with them and do our part to make it a better experience for them.”

Mark Konner, professor and head of the Department of History, says Somner has a reputation for resolving issues of all kinds, even when the solution lies outside her department.

“You’ll never hear Lori say ‘That’s not my job',” says Konner. “She’s always willing to help.”

And as the department’s longest-serving employee, Somner has a lot of expertise to offer.

The U Make a Difference award program recognizes individuals and teams who exemplify excellence and the ability to reach above and beyond the expected to make a difference in our university community. Their performance, commitment and service help make the university a great place to learn and work.   

Recognition is one of the 13 factors illustrated in the National Standard. The University of Calgary is a recipient of the Excellence Canada Mental Health at Work Silver Level Certification in this area.