Excellence in teaching and research in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) was celebrated during an annual award ceremony held on Thursday, Jan. 10. The recipients spanned the breadth of disciplines in the Faculty. The Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching recognized two faculty members and one teaching assistant for their commitment and dedication to students. The LA&PS Awards for Distinction in Research, Creativity or Scholarship honoured two emerging researchers, two established researchers and one social justice researcher.
Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching
Patrice Allen—Teaching Assistant Category
A PhD candidate in the Department of History, Patrice Allen is recognized for teaching excellence in the Teaching Assistant category. Her nominator writes about her “commitment to transforming the classroom into a site of social justice and change while maintaining the highest academic standards.” He refers to her “dedication to positive and engaged learning” and names her as one of York’s “most inspirational teaching assistants.”
Allen works hard to ensure that all her students have an equal place in her classroom, where she actively dismantles power dynamics and structural inequalities. She is known for her kindness and exceeding expectations in her mission to empower students.
On her teaching philosophy, she writes: “It is my ethical and professional responsibility … to create a safe, non-oppressive environment where students can thrive … I emphasize respect: respect from my students in my role as their guide and respect for my students and the knowledge, experiences and worldviews they share.”
Dagmara Woronko—Contract Faculty Category
Dagmara Woronko is recognized in the Contract Faculty category for excellence in teaching. She has contributed greatly to both the Health & Society program in the Department of Social Science and the Department of Communication Studies.
Her colleagues call her a “born educator” and her students speak of her highly effective teaching strategies, her “style of presentation that engages their entire attention,” her ability to “give assignments that deliver course content in a stimulating fashion” and her skill in providing “excellent feedback and exceptional individual support.”
On her teaching philosophy, she writes: “Students do not just learn from me; we come together and explore questions as a community of learners, each one with something important and unique to contribute. Teaching is more than just the downloading of information; it is igniting a spark in the mind of another person that will result in a life-long journey of curiosity.”
Carolyn Podruchny—Tenured Faculty Category
Professor Carolyn Podruchny is the recipient of the Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Tenured Faculty category. A highly regarded educator in the Department of History, she has taught in the fields of Canadian history, colonialism and Indigenous history. Innovative and creative in course design, she has instructed and prepared courses at every level, with a commitment to learning that “encourages broad, critical and deep thinking about both past and present.”
Podruchny is an advocate for her students and a tireless supporter and mentor. At the time of her nomination, she had successfully completed the supervision of two postdoctoral Fellows, six PhD candidates and 13 master’s students, with an extraordinary record of mentoring through assistantships, having 38 students benefit from working with her as research assistants at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
She continues to be known for her commitment to Indigenous knowledge and scholarship, her deep respect for Indigenous traditions and scholars, and how she encourages students to bring something of their own lives and persons to the academic work.
Chris Robinson—Tenured Faculty Category, Honourable Mention
A prominent academic in the School of Administrative Studies, Professor Chris Robinson was recognized at the event with an honourable mention for the Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Tenured Faculty category. Through his dedication to innovation over his career at York University, Robinson has continually inspired students and faculty alike. He stands out for his long-standing commitment to ensuring that students receive quality courses, instruction and opportunities for real-world experience.
In the classroom, Robinson is known for his dynamic teaching style, catering to different learning styles and abilities to ensure student success. He has also distinguished himself as an exemplary educator in his capacity as a mentor and by encouraging interaction with students outside of the lecture hall.
The LA&PS Awards for Distinction in Research, Creativity or Scholarship
Jennifer Korosi—Emerging Researcher Category
An associate professor in the Department of Geography, Jennifer Korosi is the recipient of the LA&PS Award for Distinction in Research in the Emerging Researcher category. Korosi is an outstanding and internationally recognized scholar in the fields of limnology, paleo-limnology and bio-geochemistry. She has built a niche for herself as an expert in ecosystem change, including pollutant tracking and aquatic environments. Her groundbreaking research will continue to grow in significance as mining expands in the North and will be much needed to aid Indigenous communities in protecting the sensitive water sources they rely on. She has published at least 31 papers, many of them in top-tier refereed journals such as the Journal of Paleolimnology, Environmental Science & Technology and Nature Communications. She is active in sharing her research, its goals and its real-world applications both within and beyond academia through major Canadian media. In addition to her exemplary research work, Korosi’s classes are popular, fully enrolled and she has served as an outstanding mentor for undergraduate and graduate students. She has hired undergrads as research assistants and has taken several with her on a summer Arctic expedition, experiences they will value for a lifetime.
Miriam Smith—Established Researcher Category
Department of Social Science Professor Miriam Smith is the recipient of the LA&PS Award for Distinction in Research in the Established Researcher category. With a career spanning 25 years, she is known for her significant influence in comparative politics and political science and beyond, notably in the following three fields: the theoretical approach associated with historical institutionalism; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer political mobilization in Canada and the U.S.; and the study of civil society and social movements. Smith’s work has contributed to the establishment of the field of politics and sexuality in Canada and internationally and has opened the door for the scholarly treatment of LGBTQ+ politics as a legitimate and complex field of inquiry. She has published three single-authored books, four edited or co-edited volumes, 26 refereed articles and 26 book chapters. Her works are widely cited and used in teaching across Canada. Reflective of her research impact and community service, Smith has held the Fulbright Visiting Chair in Law and Society at New York University, been awarded the Social Science & Humanities Research Council of Canada’s Bora Laskin Award in Human Rights Research and served as president of the Canadian Political Science Association.
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