Recognition award winner remembers making hay under grey skies
Szynkowski was recently awarded the U of A’s Annual APO, FSO & Librarian Recognition Award, which recognizes support staff, academic professional officers, faculty service officers and librarians for contributing to a positive culture, being ambassadors for the university and giving the best of themselves in the workplace.
Szynkowski, an avid gardener, volunteer and long-time coach for his son’s basketball and soccer teams, says the keys to his success at work is to keep a positive atmos-phere in the workplace and balance in his work life.
“I feel calmness is important, and so is availability,” said Szynkowski. “I want staff members and faculty to feel they can come and talk about problems and look for solutions.”
Now an assistant chair in the department, Szynkowski was recruited to his alma mater—he graduated from the University of Alberta with a bachelor of fine arts in 1977—in 1991 as administrative professional officer in art and design at the dawn of the rollbacks the U of A experienced from 1995 to 1997.
And while many departments were left to reorganize and make do, art and design found ways to grow.
“One thing we did as a department was look at other opportunities,” said Szynkowski. “This is a time when the province was also offering incentives for program growth in specified areas, and this is where we put forward our design degree expansion, which happened to fall in line with the province’s goals.”
In 1994, art and design started offering a bachelor of design and master’s of design pathways program, the foundation of which was constructed out of the spirit of collaboration that the university itself was built upon.
“The university is a great place to serve, and art and design is in the privileged position of engaging in creative problem solving in the disciplines with many other faculties and researchers at this and other institutions,” said Szynkowski. “Creative thinking is a key element of department life, which is clearly evident from student projects to researchers’ and staff approaches to their work.
“Many of our students report that their interdisciplinary working group experiences, as well as the international aspects of their education, are most meaningful [upon reflection] after graduation.”