Professional Staff Recognition Awards

Celebrating outstanding professional staff

Parent speaking with SCU staff on campus

The Professional Staff Recognition Awards celebrate outstanding professional staff who provide exceptional service, who are bold innovators, and who are passionate about safety.

Discover the outstanding 2023 award recipients in the areas of Exceptional Service, Innovation and Qaulity Improvement, and Safety Excellence.

Exceptional Service

Evan Crandon

Office of Engagement, Lismore

Evan Crandon has been the driving force to increasing our student load and creating efficiencies through the enrolment process at Southern Cross University. With many roadblocks over the years, Evan does not take "no" or "we can't do it" as an answer, and he has persevered with implementing automation, technology and employing innovative team members to push the boundary of expectations of the remit of Future Students. With all this considered, Evan has also been a great advocate in creating a strong team culture, letting team members trial new ideas, and further supported other departments/ teams in their work functions to improve the overall experience of the student journey. He consistently promotes an atmosphere of collaboration, learning, and innovation. His vision and ability to lead by example have been instrumental in driving our team to exceed expectations and achieve excellence.  Evan has proven to be a leader who wants to implement innovation, improve our conversion and enrolment journey to create a better-quality outcome for Southern Cross University.

Sallyanne Donnelly

Library Services, Lismore

As Team Leader, Library Resources, Sally Donnelly demonstrates excellent leadership skills, guiding and motivating those in her team and other staff in the library through challenging times.  In 2023 Sally led a large-scale project to refresh the Library’s physical collections at the Lismore Learning Centre as part of SCU’s Reimagined Campus strategic priority. Sally’s leadership has been exceptional through this project.  In addition to this project work, Sally has also worked at continuously improving systems, process and training to ensure that collections are current and relevant, that all staff are trained and given tools to be safe in the workplace all while collaborating with internal and external stakeholders to ensure projects are delivered on time and to expectations.  Additionally, Sally facilitated useful and meaningful donations of collections to community groups, including Lismore Rotary Club, the Byron Bay Friends of the Library group, Richmond Tweed Regional Library and The Living School.

Chris Hannigan

Student Experience & Engagement, Gold Coast

Chris has demonstrated excellent service and support to first year students throughout 2023. He is a dedicated staff member who has put in a consistent effort to assist first year students and to help them transition to university and succeed in their courses. He has been a relentlessly positive force and always promotes positivity and optimism. One small example of this is that he always shares the 'Actions for Happiness' calendar at the start of each month. Making sure everyone feels supported and cared for is at the core of who Chris Hannigan is. He has been resilient in an ever-changing and challenging environment, all the while always doing what is right by everyone around him and looking out for his students.

Virginia Ingham

Gnibi College Indigenous Australian Peoples, Lismore

Virginia is a wonderful and supportive staff member whose institutional knowledge is outstanding. She is humble and just gets on with the job. Her service to the university is significant and long standing.  Virginia has been a longstanding employee at Gnibi with over 20 years of service. Virginia's leadership, customer service and innovative solutions has seen her recognised for her dedication and excellent work by her colleagues, students and community. Virginia is the chair of the Southern Cross University Indigenous Events Committee leading the way in innovative planning and organisation by overseeing the delivery of major Indigenous events including NAIDOC, Sorry Day, Reconciliation and Close the Gap. Virginia dedicates countless hours in driving the committee to deliver respectful and meaningful interactions across the university community by sharing and showcasing aboriginal culture.  Virginia's dedicated work within the SCU Gnibi Elders committee is unsurpassed with her commitment and passion in service to our Elders. Virginia is the engine that provides the inner working of our Elders council to meet, travel, support and engage in Indigenous business at SCU.

Donald Johnston

Office of Business Intelligence & Quality, Lismore

Don has demonstrated exceptional dedication and commitment by actively contributing to university graduation ceremonies for over 15 years, going above and beyond his usual role since before 2009. His outstanding communication and service skills, combined with a reliable and dedicated approach, have significantly contributed to the consistent delivery of excellent graduation ceremonies that showcase the university. He has played a crucial role in making these special occasions memorable for graduands, their friends, and families. Despite his quiet and unassuming nature, he embodies the Southern Cross Universities values of caring, striving for excellence, and building trust through action. As a colleague, Don serves as an inspiration, encouraging others to go the extra mile for the benefit of colleagues, students, and the university as a whole. His long and exceptional service makes him highly deserving of recognition.

Shreyas Kale

Office of Engagement, Gold Coast

Shreyas has gone above and beyond since joining the team on the Gold Coast campus.  He is the type of person who will arrive first and leave last to make sure that the job is not only complete but efficient. Shreyas helps the team of student ambassadors with many events year-round and becomes part of the team. Someone who leads by example. He brings passion and enjoyment to those that work around him and is a positive employee to have leading Southern Cross to bigger and better things as he continues his career.  Collectively, the team of student ambassadors would be lost without Shreyas leading us to success each and every week. 

Nick Simmons

Coffs Harbour Campus Administration, Coffs Harbour

Nick Simmons was nominated for our Exceptional Service category due to his embodiment of Southern Cross University values. His genuine care for colleagues is evident and he always has a warm and approachable demeanour. Nick has an extensive knowledge of the Coffs campus, it's staff and tenancies and is committed to understanding and effectively navigating this multi-purpose location. His drive for excellence extends beyond personal responsibilities, as he actively collaborates with individuals from various campuses, fostering unity and a positive work environment. Nick's contributions transcend his job description, exemplifying teamwork and selflessness, while his professionalism and humour shine in navigating complex and often conflicting demands. As an authentic leader, Nick consistently prioritises the university's best interests, making him a positive influence and an exemplary colleague.

Innovation and Quality Improvement

Bronwyn Browne

Faculty of Health, Gold Coast

Bronwyn also plays a crucial role in our Clinical Skills Labs and has consistently demonstrated a commitment to creativity, implementation of innovations and collaboration. Bronwyn is an essential part of unit delivery. Bronwyn has gone above and beyond this year, taking dry content on a page that a Unit Assessor provides, collaborating with others and turning that into a collegial, exciting, authentic and rich learning opportunity for students.

Dani Chittick

Office of Engagement, Gold Coast

Dani has revolutionised the university’s approach to engaging with future students. This not only sets a new benchmark for SCU but also establishes a highly effective and responsive system for prospective student interaction. Dani’s commitment to quality improvement is exemplified through her meticulous attention to detail in refining and optimising CRM-driven customer journeys, ensuring prospective students receive top-tier service. Her leadership in this area not only positions the university at the forefront of innovation but also reflects her unwavering dedication to quality improvement. Her patient, diligent, and friendly disposition, even in challenging situations, underscores her willingness to go the extra mile for clients and stakeholders, improving processes and outcomes not only for OOE but for the entire university community.

Erin Crandon

Office of Business Intelligence & Quality, Lismore

Erin has proactively devised innovative solutions for Executive and senior leadership to monitor crucial decision-making data. Not only has she created and implemented advanced tools for data monitoring, but she has also played a vital role in enhancing the BI team's capabilities. Erin's mentorship has empowered staff to manage these dashboards and associated tasks for ongoing improvement. Her impactful work is evident in the senior leadership team's enhanced decision-making and proactive response to dynamic reporting. Erin's bold initiatives have provided insights into the transformative influence of the SCM on student learning. She consistently refines and expands these tools, ensuring they remain cutting-edge, pertinent, and user-friendly, all achieved through her thoughtful and collaborative approach with stakeholders across the University.

Sonia Gardner-Hillgrove

Faculty of Health, Gold Coast

Sonia plays a crucial role in managing the Clinical Skills Lab cohort, which constitutes a significant portion of our student body. Her ability to oversee up to 15 labs simultaneously is truly impressive. What sets her apart is her innovative approach and effective management techniques. Sonia has introduced pre-planning, systematic whiteboard lists, medication charts, consumable tables, and other methods that ensure the labs run smoothly and efficiently.  Sonia’s contributions have made a substantial impact on both students and staff. Her innovations have improved the student experience, ensuring labs run on schedule and creating a positive environment for all involved.

Jessica McKendry

Student Outreach, Lismore

Jess not only identified shortcuts in Excel spreadsheets for automated data and graph generation but also proactively sourced tools and skills to implement this innovation. This significantly streamlined the monthly reporting process, relieving staff less familiar with Excel from reporting responsibilities and enabling the team to allocate time and skills to other areas. Jess's flexibility is evident as she seamlessly transitioned between projects, showcasing her willingness to cover different team areas. Her collaborative spirit extends to taking on upgrades and improvements to Learning Zone resources beyond standard updates, enhancing the quality of resources for an improved student experience, a contribution that goes beyond expectations.

Rachel Ritchie

Library Services, Coffs Harbour

Rachel was nominated for her exceptional contributions to the Open Education Resource (OER) project team within the Faculty of Health. Richie played a pivotal role in the successful publication of the OER book "Case Studies for Health, Research and Practice in Australia and New Zealand." Her dedication extended beyond expectations, providing invaluable support and guidance to ensure the project's success. Rachel's efforts aligned seamlessly with the SCU values of excellence, boldness, and caring. She exemplified the OER program's core goal of eliminating barriers to education, offering a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional textbooks. Richie's leadership, patience, and persistence were instrumental in guiding the nursing team throughout the project, fostering a collegial environment and enabling academic success. Her mentorship made a significant impact, and without her, the team acknowledges they might not have achieved their goals.

Jessica Wynyard

Southern Cross Global, Lismore

 Jessica has always provided timely and accurate data analysis and insights to support the University’s compliance, admissions and international student recruitment activities.  Jessica’s service has led to significant improvements in the data quality, reporting capabilities and ultimately will contribute to a better student experience for international students applying to Southern Cross University.  Jessica has demonstrated great care as a proactive and collaborative leader working across the University and with our partners in creating and executing solutions that suit the needs in the current dynamic International Higher Education sector.   In addition to her technical skills, Jessica is an excellent team player who collaborates effectively with colleagues. Her enthusiasm and dedication are infectious, motivating others to strive for excellence. She embodies the spirit of continuous improvement, and her work is an inspiration to us all.

Safety Excellence

Iain Alexander

Southern Cross Analytical Research Services, Lismore

Iain is an exemplary advocate for safety excellence, particularly in the areas of lab safety, chemical management, and inspections. His dedication to ensuring a safe working environment is evident through his diligent efforts in implementing and promoting safety measures within these workspaces. Iain not only actively participates in chemical management but goes above and beyond by proactively assisting in ensuring accurate and compliant chemical labelling. His efforts are invaluable in creating a secure and compliant environment, making him a standout candidate for the Safety Excellence award.

Amanda Beasley

Faculty of Science & Engineering, Coffs Harbour

Amanda, as the Technical and Laboratory Team Leader, has significantly enhanced the technical support and services at the National Marine Science Centre while fostering a kind, supportive, and inclusive environment. Her dedication to improving safety standards, has created a safe workplace for everyone in the building. Amanda’s leadership skills, characterised by kindness, patience, and positivity, have had a remarkable impact on the technical team and the entire Department. She exemplifies SCU’s values by being bold, trustworthy, striving for excellence, caring for her team, and taking action on important issues within the faculty and within NMSC. Amanda’s unique leadership skills have transformed the technical team into an efficient and positive unit, contributing to the overall success of the NMSC. Her commitment to safety, dedication to professional growth, and ability to manage complex projects make her an exceptional leader deserving of official recognition.

Briony Leonard

Student Care & Support, Lismore

Having Briony as an integral part of the University team is truly invaluable. She operates at the forefront of student safety. In times of acute incidents involving students, the knowledge that Briony is there to provide sophisticated yet genuinely supportive assistance brings incredible reassurance. Briony exudes openness, calmness, confidence, and encouragement, consistently following through on her commitments. Her pivotal role as the first point of contact for numerous student safety reports is just one aspect of her impactful contributions. Additionally, her efforts surrounding RU OK day, along with her promotion and organisation of activities across all campuses, further exemplify her dedication to fostering a safe and supportive environment.

Jacoba Van Crugten

Faculty of Health, Gold Coast

Serving as a go-to source for safety policies and procedures, Jacoba goes above and beyond, consistently ensuring the safest possible operations. She not only advocates for safety but also serves as a guiding light, readily sharing her expertise with colleagues and educating them on correct and safe practices, ranging from chemical changes to handling unforeseen situations. Jacoba's dedication to knowledge-sharing and mentorship contributes to a team that is well-versed in safety best practices. Her passion for safety, commitment to green experiments, and tireless efforts to educate and support others truly make her a standout safety champion.


-->