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York University
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Teaching and Research Excellence Celebrated at Glendon

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Alexandre Brassard, Director of Research at Glendon, and research officer Reagan Brown hosted the annual Glendon celebration of research and teaching excellence on November 16th.

Following a sneak preview of the soon-to-be-launched, newly reconceptualized research site on the Glendon website, Brown gave a PowerPoint presentation of this year’s research results. For such a small institution, the sheer volume of publications and research projects is impressive – 9 books, 52 learned articles, 25 chapters in books, 3 book editings and a total of $751.787 in research funding.

Three Principal’s Awards were given out at the award ceremony, one for outstanding contribution to research in the last three years, another for teaching excellence by a tenure-track faculty member, and a third one for teaching excellence by a contract faculty.

Left: Professor Cynthia Zimmerman

This year’s Research Excellence Award was presented to professor of literature and creative writing Cynthia Zimmerman of the English Department. “These last three years have been particularly productive ones for professor Zimmerman, and while she has published a volume a year since 2005, in terms of her scholarly career, this output is by no means unique and indeed shows no sign of coming to a halt”, said professor Ann Hutchison, Chair of Glendon’s English Department, in her nomination letter. “Her main research has centred on making Canadian women playwrights and their plays known and available to the academic community, and, even more broadly, to those associated with the world of the theatre in Canada”, added Hutchison. “Her Playwriting Women: Female Voices in English Canada (Toronto: Simon Pierre, 1994) has been celebrated as a pioneering work and essential reading in this field".

Right: Glendon faculty members celebrate with Cynthia Zimmerman (centre)

In her acceptance speech, Zimmerman explained that Glendon was her first job after obtaining her Masters degree at the University of Toronto in the 1960s. She completed her PhD (University of Toronto 1977) on “Madness and Modern Drama” while already working full time. “I saw Peter Brooks’ production of The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat (by Peter Weiss) and, in contemporary parlance, it was awesome. The combination of history, spectacle and madness, and the ingenuity of performance all came together for me as a topic on which I wanted to focus.”

Zimmerman’s first major project, The Work: Conversations with English-Canadian Playwrights (Coach House Press 1982) – a book of interviews with 26 Canadian playwrights, which also included crucial information about finding funding and the challenges of playwriting – was completed in collaboration with Glendon drama professor Robert Wallace.

While continuing to teach Canadian drama and English-speaking theatre at Glendon, Zimmerman has never looked back from her writing and editing career and has been especially productive in recent years. The Betty Lambert Reader (Playwrights Canada) was published in May 2007. In 2008, she completed the last of three volumes of Sharon Pollock: Collected Works, and in the fall of 2010, Playwrights Canada Press will publish another major editing work by her: Reading Carol Bolt / by Carol Bolt.

Left: Members of the English department congratulate Professors Zimmerman (front row, third from left) and Russell (front row, fourth from left)

Zimmerman expressed her thanks to nominators Ann Hutchison and Glendon professor of English Carol Fraser, as well as the enthusiastic support provided by the entire department, many of whom were present at the award ceremony. “Canadian theatre is thriving”, she said, “and important companies such as Soulpepper [Theatre Company] are intensifying their commitment to Canadian works. I am very proud to be part of that.”

Right: Professor Radu Guiasu receives award from Principal McRoberts

The Principal’s Teaching Excellence Award for a tenure-track faculty member was next presented to Environmental and Health Studies professor Radu Cornel Guiasu.

Final-year student Omid Fekri spoke on behalf of the students who were the nominators for this award. “Professor Guiasu is that exceptional teacher who is able to make science fascinating and accessible to students who did not come to university with an interest in science”, said Fekri, who has attend six of Guiasu’s courses so far. In fact, students gave professor Guiasu a phenomenal 95% approval rate, with comments such as ‘inspiring’, ‘approachable’, ‘very knowledgeable’, ‘very fair and sincere’.

Left: L-r: Omid Fekri, Radu Guiasu and Kenneth McRoberts

“Professor Guiasu invests a great deal of effort into designing original courses and, in all of these, he presents as well as expects the highest standards and inspiring work ethics”, said Fekri. “His course material and unique teaching style, complemented by excellent notes and audio-visual materials, have allowed us to immerse ourselves in the world of biology and to complete our studies with a deep understanding of the subject matter. As a result, many of us, majors and non-majors alike, enrolled in subsequent classes taught by him and even chose Environmental and Health Studies as their field of specialization. We, his students, truly appreciate what we have received from him.”

Guiasu thanked the students and the Principal for the award and confirmed his great love for teaching, a field where he follows in the footsteps of his father, York mathematics and statistics professor emeritus Silviu Guiasu. Radu Guiasu has published 20 scientific articles and one scientific book, with the title Entropy in Ecology and Ethology (Nova Science Publ. Inc. 2003) which, in fact, he co-authored with his father.

Radu Guiasu holds a Specialized Honours B.Sc. in Biology (York University 1986), a Bachelor of Education from the University of Toronto (B. Ed. 1989), an M.Sc. in Zoology (U. of T. 1991), and a Ph.D. in Zoology (U. of T. 1997). Over the years, he has had six years of post-doctoral research experience at the University of Toronto, and has conducted extensive research in ecology, animal behaviour, conservation biology and evolutionary biology in the field, the laboratory, and museum collections, including the Royal Ontario Museum.

Right: L-r: Elise Divay with Prof. Danielle Russell

Professor Danielle Russell of Glendon’s English Department received the teaching award for contract faculty. Elise Divay, a recent graduate of English Studies (Glendon Honours BA 2009) spoke on behalf of the students who nominated Russell for the award.

“Seeing professor Russell receive this award means a lot to me and to so many students, because it recognizes her teaching expertise and professionalism, and honours her invaluable contribution to our English Department”, said Divay. “I believe that fostering curiosity, passion and self-confidence in one’s students are among the most honourable qualities for a dedicated teacher, and professor Russell has managed this task admirably.” Divay thanked Russell for her witty, thought-provoking and inspiring lectures; she also thanked her for her serious commitment to her work and to the success of her students. “Thank you for making our education at Glendon a wonderful experience by sharing your passion and instilling academic knowledge, but also curiosity and motivation in our minds and hearts.”

A graduate of York University for all of her degrees, Russell holds a Ph.D. (York U. English 2003), with her dissertation focusing on women’s writing of the 18th to 20th centuries, under the title Between the Angle and the Curve: Mapping Gender, Race, Space, and Identity in Selected Writings by Willa Cather and Toni Morrison. “Since first coming to teach at Glendon in the fall of 2003, Danielle Russell has shown herself to be extraordinarily versatile”, said associate principal (academic and research) Françoise Mougeon. “Whether she is teaching a foundation course, historical literature, contemporary literature, or children’s literature - the course for which she is most widely acclaimed - the standards she sets both for herself and for her students are high, and the results, like the evaluations, are excellent.”

Principal Kenneth McRoberts and associate principal Mougeon expressed their pride in the achievements of Glendon’s faculty, especially given that the two forces of research and teaching put a heavy burden on academics. “With the reduction in funds for universities, it is even more difficult to produce outstanding results”, said Mougeon. “It is all the more inspiring, then, to see the remarkable achievements of our teaching faculty.”

Article submitted by Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny


Published on November 27, 2009