Three decades of service: Celebrating 34 years at USask

Over her 34-year career at USask, Heather Lukey has helped graduate students feel supported, safe, and capable during the critical early days of their studies. Now, as she transitions into retirement, the College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (CGPS) celebrates the impact she has had on USask's graduate community.

Heather Lukey’s career at USask started in 1989 in the reference department of the Murray Library. In 1990, Heather transitioned into a receptionist role in the College of Graduate Studies in Research when the college was located in the Murray building.

Heather's career progression is a testament to her dedication and hard work. She climbed the ranks moving into the role of what CGPS now calls Graduate Programs Service Officer. Later she moved into the role of Awards Officer, and in 1997 was promoted to the position of Director of Graduate Awards & Scholarships. Recognized by the USask community for excellence while demonstrating dedication and commitment to the University, Lukey was the recipient of the President’s Staff Excellence Award in 2012.

As USask’s Tri-agency Harmonization Scholarships Liaison officer (SLO), Heather was committed to implementing and delivering Tri-agency programs like the Canada Graduate Scholarships – Master’s (CGS M) program and the Canada Graduate Scholarships – Doctoral (CGS D) program. She worked alongside faculty like Professor Stoicheff from the Department of English (now President Stoicheff) delivering workshops for graduate students to help them construct successful scholarship applications.

Everyone who has worked with Heather Lukey praises her virtues as a dedicated university employee, but none more than the graduate students themselves. We recently talked to Curtis Pozniak (PhD) who was the first recipient of the prominent Robert P. Knowles scholarship. Pozniak is now a USask professor in Plant Sciences and the Director of the Crop Development Centre. “I’ve had the pleasure to liaise and work with Heather for many years, first as a graduate student in the Department of Plant Sciences, and then as a faculty member in the Crop Development Centre,” said Pozniak. “She was always facilitative, helpful, and kind. As a faculty member, many of my own students received the same prestigious scholarship and were all expertly supported by Heather. She had a significant impact on all of us – which was so important very early on in our careers.”

 “When you first meet Heather, you are immediately struck by her friendliness and warmth. But after you have worked with her for 11 years, you see just how deeply Heather cares about students,” said Senior Awards Officer, Peggy Naughton.

“She provided a safe place for students to talk. She was a trusted mentor and advocate. Over the years Heather saw thousands of students complete their degrees and go on to be successful in their chosen fields. And, years later they all remember her.”

Six chancellors have been chosen and five presidents have assumed office during Heather's career. She has reported to eight CGPS deans, all of whom she has learned from. She has also taught them a thing or two about graduate scholarships and awards! In the face of leadership changes and policy shifts, Heather has remained a sure and steady constant in the College of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies often serving as a valuable source of institutional memory for students, staff, and faculty.

Ron Borowsky (PhD), a professor in the Department of Psychology, has collaborated with Heather for years. “When I think about our work together, I think about how often we laughed and how wonderful she is as a colleague,” said Borowsky, “Heather took such great care of all the graduate students and all the scholarship and award competitions. Her strong work ethic and wonderful sense of humour was the spirit of the college.” When asked about her career at USask Heather says, “I did it for the students.”

Join CGPS on Thursday, October 26th at 2 p.m. in the Thorvaldson Building, Room 116 for a Come & Go Tea to celebrate Heather and wish her well as she transitions to retirement.