ALES staff member recognized for outstanding service

Elizabeth Ng

They call her “Golden Mama Bear.”

Robin McClelland, graduate student service co-ordinator in the Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, won the Non-Academic Staff Award from the Graduate Students’ Association.

“I’m really so touched by this award,” said McClelland, who was nominated by REESSA, the department’s graduate student association.

McClelland takes care of the department’s 80-plus graduate students. She has developed an orientation package for the students’ first few weeks, makes sure they’re well funded and paid on time, keeps track of every student’s academic requirements, alerts them to scholarship and grant opportunities, pushes for professional development and makes sure theses are completed properly.

“I do everything from recruitment to graduation and everything in between. My number one concern is always the students,” explained McClelland. 

But that’s only the administrative side of her work. Graduate student Amanda Long, a REESSA vice-president, says it’s McClelland’s personal touch that makes her a winner. 

“If I have something exciting or I’m in a little funk, I want to go see her. She’s just that person you go to—it’s almost a knee-jerk reaction for me. She never turns you away or asks if you can come back in five minutes. She gets so excited for us when we get job interviews or finish a thesis, but she’s also a shoulder to cry on,” said Long.

“She always comes to our student social functions and she’s happy to be there.”

McClelland has been so important to some students that she’s been thanked in their thesis acknowledgements. 

“They’re my kids—I call them my kids. Maybe that’s why they call me Golden Mama Bear,” said McClelland, laughing. “They come in and drop off treats for me; they make my job easy. Hands down I have the best students on campus. But the best part of my job is seeing them graduate. Then I know I’ve done mine.”

McClelland’s talents will soon be available to more graduate students in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences: she’s becoming one of two senior graduate student advisers for the entire faculty.

This is the second time McClelland has been recognized. In 2008, she received a Distinguished Service Award from the Faculty of ALES.