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2023 VIA Awards

Recognising colleagues who bring the University’s values to life

Page updated 28 November 2023

Now in their sixth year, the Values in Action (VIA) awards celebrate individuals or teams/committees who act as ambassadors for the UCD Values through their daily work, volunteering or establishing initiatives that bring the UCD Values to life. The awards were established by the Employee Engagement Network.

For the 2023 awards, 29 submissions were received. The adjudication committee has awarded 9 UCD VIAs, out of the pool of high quality nominations that captured the diverse achievements of colleagues to bring our shared values of Collegiality, Creativity, Diversity, Engagement, Excellence and Integrity to life.

The Adjudication Committee was chaired by Prof. Joe Carthy, Chair, and comprised Dr Rachel Farrell, previous VIA recipient, UCD School of Education; Éimear Ryan, previous VIA recipient, UCD Conway Institute; Rory Carey, Director Culture & Engagement; and Mark Simpson, Culture & Engagement.

All awards are awarded with equal merit.

2023 Awardees

Recipient: Alumni Buddy Programme 

Team members: Shamiso Chigorimbo, Ria Flom, Niamh McGowan, Colin Tannam

Nominator: Caroline Mangan

The Alumni Buddy Programme team are being recognised for their role in enhancing the student experience. The programme is a collaboration between UCD Global and UCD Alumni Relations to bring together local alumni and graduate international students to celebrate diversity, build community and enhance cross-cultural connections in UCD. This initiative engages UCD students, staff (current and retired), and alumni.

The programme has enhanced the student experience significantly by:

  • providing friendly and practical support to international students, especially on their arrival in Ireland
  • helping students integrate into UCD and surrounding communities, enhancing their understanding of life at UCD, Dublin, Ireland and Irish culture
  • facilitating intercultural exchanges and career mentorship between students and alumni.

The programme, operating since 2017, has grown from a small-scale initiative involving weekend walks for students and alumni, to a large-scale programme engaging hundreds of students and alumni. Student demand has almost doubled each year and in order to engage as many people as possible, general group activities have been combined with the usual 1:1 buddy matching between alumni and students.

Team members have demonstrated excellent collegiality by ensuring this is a collaborative initiative between the two units who work closely together throughout the year to ensure it is delivered to a high standard.

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Recipient: Deirdre Brophy 

Unit: UCD School of Sociology

Nominator: Boroka Bo

Deirdre Brophy is being recognised for her role in nurturing an inclusive environment and the collegiate approach she takes to ensure all members of the School community thrive. 

In particular, she collaborated with colleagues to launch a programme addressing the unique needs of UCD’s first generation to college community members. Deirdre's mentorship forms the backbone of the supportive first gen to university network, where shared experiences create lasting bonds. She recognises the unique perspectives that first generation individuals bring and actively ensures their needs are met, enriching UCD’s academic community. 

Her dedication to providing tailored support services and fostering active participation ensures that historically marginalised individuals are not just part of our UCD community but are also thriving contributors to it. Deirdre’s genuine commitment to UCD’s values shines through in all her endeavors.

Leveraging her institutional knowledge, she inspires community-driven innovation efforts, creating a culturally rich environment where everyone feels valued.

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Recipient: Belonging Project 

Team Members: Dr Emma Farrell (UCD School of Education), Dr Shane Bergin (UCD School of Education), Dr Áine Mahon (UCD School of Education), Dr Lisa Foran (UCD School of Philosophy), Rob Farrelly (NCAD/Post Studio), Rory McDonald (Post Studio), Claire Campion (NCAD) and John Slade (NCAD) 

Nominators: Lisa Flannery, Mary Staunton, Dr Declan Fahie

The Belonging Project Team are being recognised for their work to open up a rich multidimensional conversation on the theme of belonging in the post-pandemic university, creating an exhibition of creative pieces of writing, art, and video, as well as a seminar.

This voluntary project, initiated by members of the UCD School of Education and UCD School of Philosophy, in collaboration with NCAD Bureau+,  sought to creatively explore belonging on campus - where it is found, where it flourished and where it flounders.

In spring 2023 they invited students, faculty and staff from across UCD to write about a time they felt they belonged on campus. Some forty of these pieces were shortlisted and NCAD Bureau+ students were charged with the task of creatively capturing and representing the essence of belonging in each piece through art, illustration, design and motion picture.

The team put together a launch event and exhibition of the pieces, hosted in MoLi as part of a day-long series of talks on the concept of belonging in the post-pandemic university. The exhibition then moved to UCD  where it was exhibited at the President's inaugural lecture and subsequently in the UCD Village. 

The team has demonstrated that effective inclusion is belonging and to truly improve diversity and inclusion we need to understand all the ways in which people feel like they don't belong. Through their efforts they have brought the UCD values of collegiality, creativity and diversity to life.

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Recipient: John Hammond

Unit: UCD Rugby

Nominator: Tadhg O’Leary

John Hammond is being recognised for his ongoing contributions and voluntary initiatives that support the animation of UCD’s Values. 

John has been the mainstay behind UCD Rugby’s annual Daffodil Day collection for the Irish Cancer Society. Over the course of eight years, John's leadership has raised an impressive €80,000, a testament to his embodiment of the values of collegiality and engagement.

His initiation of the tag rugby program, which has now been running for a decade with over 300 students participating weekly, has become a success story, fostering physical activity, social interaction, and skill development among UCD students.

His selfless dedication extends beyond retirement. Since he left the role of UCD Rugby Club Administrator in 2020, he has provided invaluable support on match days and efficiently overseen operations at the UCD Bowl, exemplifying the value of collegiality.

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Recipient: Library Furniture Recycling Team 

Team Members: Ursula Byrne, Catherine Bodey, Debra McCann, Seamus Murphy, Thomas Lewis

Nominators: Lorna Dodd, Cormac Reynolds

The Library Furniture Recycling Team are being recognised for reaching out and engaging with the local community to reuse and upcycle furniture that was destined for landfill as part of the James Joyce Library Level 3 refurbishment.

During what was one of the busiest periods ever in the James Joyce Library, the team volunteered to undertake this project and:

  • Assessed how much and what type of furniture was available
  • Contacted local community groups and schools to offer the furniture
  • Arranged for the furniture to be delivered or collected in partnership with Estate Services (even delivering some themselves)

Over 910 pieces of furniture and 60 meters of shelving were given a new home as part of this initiative with over 50 organisations, schools and individuals in the local community benefiting.

By offering the old library furniture to members of the local community, the group brought the UCD values to life. In Particular engagement with the local community; creativity by thinking differently about the impact of a refurbishment project; and integrity by upholding UCD’s commitment to sustainability by making it an integrated part of the project.

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Recipient: Gisela Tuchszer

Unit: UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science

Nominators: Joanna Kacprzyk, Sonia Negrao

Gisela Tuchszer is being recognised for the many voluntary initiatives she involves herself with which make the School of Biology and Environmental Science and UCD a better place for both students and employees.

As the events/outreach officer within the Multicultural Employee Network of UCD (MENU) she has  driven numerous activities, including curating an international cookbook that focused on the memories behind the selected recipes from UCD members of diverse backgrounds. 

Gisela is a co-chair of the Women at STEM committee, and a member of UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science Athena SWAN self-assessment team. In these roles she supports equality, diversity and inclusion values and helps to address structural inequities and biases in STEM fields at School and University level. 

Gisela’s work and contributions are in clear alignment with UCD’s Values. She is extremely collegial and supportive, highly engaged in both her School’s and University’s life, demonstrates excellence and commitment, while driving numerous voluntary initiatives. 

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Recipient: Dr Ernesto Vasquez Del Aguila

Unit: UCD School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice

Nominator: Dr Joe McGrath

Ernesto Vasquez Del Aguila is being recognised for his efforts to make the campus more inclusive. He is a collegial member of the University community, acting as a board member of several bodies, including the EDI LGBTQI+ Subgroup; the Intercultural Learning Community of Practice Group; and is the co-chair of a newly established UCD EDI working group, Engaging Men. 

Ernesto has created an Inclusive Digital Map that provides an online platform for inclusive spaces on campus for students and staff in areas such as accessibility, LGBTQIA+, international students, mature students, parents at UCD and health/wellbeing, to be launched in Spring 2024.

His research is engaged and has an impact on policy and practice. Together with An Garda Síochana, he developed a practical toolkit to train police officers from across the European Union on LGBTQI+ issues.

Ernesto has demonstrated sustained commitment to the University core values working towards a more inclusive campus. He is passionate about creating spaces and building infrastructure for an inclusive campus and working to remove structural barriers to the full development of all students, especially minority students.

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Recipient: Buddy System in Action

Committee Members: Mary Bushe, Jennifer Curley, Robert Finlay, Elena Keany, Conor Kelly, Joanna Krawiec, Caroline McTeigue, Jean McQuillan, Ari Sheils, Alessia Tritto

Nominator: Andy Myler

The UCD Registry Buddy System in Action committee is being recognised for their role to welcome and support new and returning staff. The panel of trained buddy volunteers, officially launched in 2019, provides an informal yet structured approach to welcome, include, support and give guidance to new team members over a 4-week period. 

Areas covered by the buddy volunteers include UCD Values, Dignity and Respect, EDI, Culture and Engagement, UCD Code of Conduct, Registry Code of Conduct, as well as casual walk and talks and facts about UCD. They also encourage participation in networks and initiatives such as Multicultural Employee Network of UCD (MENU), UCD Community Choir, Healthy UCD, Registry Book Club and organise a monthly new staff coffee morning.

Since 2019, 25 members of staff have had the opportunity to volunteer and have supported 70 new or returning staff, as well as Transition Year (TY) students completing work experience in Registry.

This initiative demonstrates excellence, creativity and collegiality, ensuring new staff feel included in Registry and University life from their first day. 

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Recipient: Dr Craig Slattery,

Unit: UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science

Nominator: Orla Donoghue

Craig Slattery is being recognised for his commitment to make science accessible and engaging for the general public through his outreach work in the UCD College of Science and elsewhere.

He is the chair of Midlands Science, a voluntary position in the not for profit company which works to create greater interest in STEM education and skills among students, teachers and members of the public in the counties of Laois, Offaly, Longford and Westmeath. Midland Science reaches over 16,000 people directly per annum and their work has been independently and positively evaluated and found to be impactful, creative and innovative. The initiative makes a particular effort in all projects to engage with those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, as they are the least likely to engage with STEM outreach.

Craig’s work is a wonderful example of the UCD objective to engage with the wider community, in particular, outside of Dublin. Midlands Science is an initiative that embodies inclusiveness, community, equality and provides services to local and national communities while helping attract an excellent and diverse cohort of students.

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2023 VIA Nominations

29 nominations were received. Some nominees were nominated by more than one nominator.

  • Dr Gisela Tuchszer
  • Alumni Buddy Programme
  • Dr Craig Slattery
  • Dr Emma Farrell
  • Elizabeth Varley
  • Library recycling team
  • Ursula Byrne
  • Faculty Partnership Programme
  • Dr Declan Fahie
  • Student Desk & Conferring
  • Grading Support & Ed Tech
  • Dr Ernesto Vasquez Del Aguila
  • Vet Med Festival Volunteers
  • Dr Gabriela Martinez Sainz
  • Stephan Koppe
  • Dr Michael Byrne
  • Buddy System in Action
  • Magdalena Jablonska
  • Deirdre Brophy
  • Diarmuid Stokes
  • Campus Duty Manager Team
  • John Hammond
  • Innovation Academy MakerSpace
  • Moves team and Assessment
  • Caroline Treacey
  • Belonging Project
  • Geography Admin team

Contact Culture & Engagement

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