University of the Fraser Valley

Inspirational Leadership Award 2024: Andrea Hughes makes history while leading with a culture of collaboration

Inspirational Leadership Award 2024: Andrea Hughes makes history while leading with a culture of collaboration

In one year as head of the psychology department, Dr. Andrea Hughes has made a lasting impression on her colleagues. With more than half of her department being new to UFV, she took on the role during a period of change and growth, and keeps her teammates feeling energized and cared for.

While her department has been reidentifying itself and reevaluating priorities to meet the needs of students, faculties, and administration over the next several decades, Andrea promotes a culture of transparency, accountability and trust among her colleagues.

On top of teaching classes, Hughes devotes her time to supporting others in every way she can – serving on five different Individual Probationary Evaluation Committees, the Divisional Review Committee for tenure track faculty across the social sciences, and as a former member of the Human Research Ethics Board.

In recognition of her selfless stewardship, Hughes is the recipient of the 2024 Inspirational Leadership award – making her the first person to ever receive two UFV Employee Excellence awards (following her 2014 UFV Teaching Excellence award).

She’s worked alongside her fellow professors on countless grant submissions and research projects, and developed exciting co-teaching opportunities on special topics and directed study courses. Under her guidance, the HREB fostered fruitful, lasting relationships with investigators and research centres across the institution.

Her colleagues see Hughes as a unifying and balancing force within UFV. She possesses a deep understanding of its history and culture, while remaining adaptable in her efforts to meet the changing needs of its faculty and students.

For most new psychology professors, Hughes’ is the first friendly face they see on campus. She’s the first to reach out and invite them to lunch, and the first to introduce them to others, forging connections that can help them later with their research and community outreach. She’s the first person they turn to when they want to celebrate their successes at work, or when struggling and in need of support.

Her fair, collaborative leadership style comes from friends in the business world, as well as advice from her grandmother, who taught her: Don’t ask someone else to do something you’re not willing to do yourself.

Hughes says, “I think the most important thing when it comes to leadership is everyone on the team is valued and heard, and knows that they’re valued. I think it’s important to recognize that everybody brings their own unique contribution.”

This shines through in her meetings, where colleagues appreciate her insight and innovative solutions. She creates a welcoming environment where all voices are considered, and everyone feels safe to share their point of view. They feel her willingness to invite input from others and work together reflects true leadership rooted in humility and respect.

Reflecting on her achievement, Hughes says, “I’m really honored. I’m a little bit surprised, to be honest, but I’m really honored and I’m humbled by it.”