A Culture of Service Excellence

Members of our faculty and administrative staff are men and women devoted to embedding a culture of service excellence at our school. We use the Patricia Ann O’Rourke Award to make vivid their devotion and to salute the one faculty member or staff person who shows an especially strong desire and ability to serve others and our school.

Silvia Bonaccio is this year’s winner of the award. She shares what the award means to her and what it takes to be an organizational citizen.

Silvia Bonaccio

Silvia Bonaccio

An Organizational Citizen

I’m honoured to win the Patricia Ann O’Rourke Award for service excellence at the Telfer School. Honoured for two reasons. The first has to do with the fact that I’m a faculty member. Having a professor receive the award shows that service is everyone’s responsibility, not just that of administrative personnel or senior executives. All of us at the Telfer School—in all positions at all levels—have something meaningful to contribute that goes beyond our formal job description or task performance.

I’ve tried to live up to my own advice. For several years, I’ve been working to develop our school’s PhD program. This past year has been especially busy. As we ramp up to launch the program this fall, we’re taking steps to make sure everyone throughout the school are not only prepared to welcome our new PhD students, but also understand what it means to be a doctoral-granting institution. The program is the most important change at our school in the past decade. This move shifts us into a new group of institutional peers: doctoral-granting schools are a select group. Having PhD students at the Telfer School also means our research programs will become much more vigorous. That means I have a huge responsibility as program director to ensure these students can engage meaningfully with what Dean Julien calls our entire Telfer Community. I look forward to the challenge. Engagement for me is hard work combined with passion for what I do. It’s also a sign I’m doing my job right.

The second reason I’m honoured to win the award is because it’s named for Pat O’Rourke. I was so lucky to work alongside her for many years. Pat is a mentor and colleague, and I’m privileged to call her my friend. She is also someone I call the ideal organization citizen. That term comes from my own training in organizational behaviour and workplace psychology. It describes a person who embodies behaviours that enable an organization to function smoothly. Most importantly, it’s a person who is committed to going above and beyond his or her task performance and formal job requirements to—as in Pat’s case—create rich, rewarding learning and career opportunities for students and faculty members. Pat had this characteristic in spades. She set high standards for herself that I still want to match. I want to be a true organizational citizen. Every day. Every year. That’s my goal, and I think it should be one for each of us at the Telfer School.