‘Pure gold’ BPK manager earns SFU Staff Achievement Award

July 01, 2021
Truong with her young son at a Trottier Observatory public event

Van Truong joined SFU straight out of high school, never guessing that she would still be on campus 25 years later. She completed a BA, BEd and MEd at SFU while working as an SFU temporary employee before joining the Department of Biomedical Physiology & Kinesiology full-time in 2001. She is now being honored with an SFU Staff Achievement Award in the category of Work Performance.

Truong is described as the ‘heart and soul’ of the Department of Biomedical Physiology & Kinesiology where she has been the Manager, Academic & Administrative Services since 2006.

Since then, she has onboarded and supported four chairs, overseen the transition from the School of Kinesiology in the Faculty of Applied Sciences to the Department of Biomedical Physiology & Kinesiology in the Faculty of Science and provided guidance and leadership to countless students, faculty and staff with her trademark compassion, experience and quiet presence.

Truong explains, “I'm still here because I really enjoy working with the people in BPK. I've developed some strong friendships here and it's just a pleasure to be at work. The folks here are fun, kind and collegial.”

Her longevity can also be attributed to the respect and admiration that her colleagues have for her.

Instructor Leanne Ramer says, “She has her finger on the pulse of almost everything that happens and has a nuanced understanding of courses and inter-personal interactions among faculty, staff, and students that seems mind-boggling.”

She adds, “Her commitment to BPK is incredible, her door is open to everyone – she is the embodiment of the phrase, ‘above and beyond’.”

Truong says that one of the more difficult aspects of her position is staff turnover, especially during the pandemic. Besides the extra work needed to hire and train new staff, Truong is closely attuned to her department’s culture and she is aware of how staff change at any level shifts the group dynamics of the entire department.

Her commitment to keep the department running as smoothly as possible covers everything from critical initiatives like external reviews to her personal commitment to support diversity and equity for junior faculty by scheduling family-friendly teaching time slots.

Former BPK Chair Glen Tibbits writes in his nomination letter, “I can state unequivocally that her performance has been exceptional in every sense of the evaluation criteria, and I would rank her at the top. Not only has her work been consistently been over the top with respect to her commitment to the department’s mission, its student body population and its staff but she has selflessly given of her time for every crisis we faced.”

Truong says, “I'm very honoured that my colleagues think so highly of me. I don't feel I deserve it, and I am slightly embarrassed, but I am so pleased and humbled by this win.”

While many staff and faculty are enjoying the perks of working from home, Truong considers herself “one of the lucky few who have been given permission to work full-time on campus.” She explains that her young children are at school and daycare at SFU. “I get to walk my baby to daycare most mornings and that gives me pure joy to have that extra time with him.”

Truong thinks she is the lucky one, but her colleagues think otherwise.

Nominator Tom Claydon says, “Many employees proudly work hard for SFU, but it is clear that Van gives her heart and soul to BPK and to SFU. Her sustained dedication and guidance have enabled innovations in teaching, research, and departmental environment, and her work and service for SFU are exemplary.”