LA&PS faculty receive awards for teaching, research and curricular development

The Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) held its annual awards ceremony on Sept. 12. The event celebrates excellence in teaching and research in the Faculty. This year’s award recipients demonstrated outstanding work in an array of disciplines. The Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching recognized three faculty members and one teaching assistant for their commitment and dedication to students. The LA&PS Awards for Distinction in Research honoured one emerging researcher, two established researchers and one social justice researcher, while the Ann Shteir Award recognized one faculty member for excellence in program development and curricular leadership.

From left: Patrick Phillips, Ameera Ali, Natalie Neill, Andrea Davis, Nirupama Agrawal, Carmella Murdocca, Chris Chapman, Chris Robinson, and LA&PS Interim Dean JJ McMurtry. Absent from the photo is Shobna Nijhawan.

Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching

Ameera Ali – Teaching Assistant Category

Working as a teaching assistant in the Department of Sociology, LA&PS teaching award winner Ameera Ali is a York University PhD candidate in the Gender, Feminist & Women’s Studies program. She is committed to making her classes approachable and providing diverse learning opportunities. Holding a master of arts degree in early childhood studies, Ali is a natural educator. In fact, this year’s teaching award is not her first – just two years ago, she received the John O’Neill Award for Teaching Excellence. “I am so grateful to be a part of the diverse teaching community at York,” said Ali. “As much as my students may learn from me, I too continuously learn from them.”

Patrick Phillips – Contract Faculty Category

Teaching in the Department of Philosophy, Patrick Phillips (MA ’91, PhD ’04) was honoured for  excellence in the Contract Faculty category. Incorporating humour and real-life examples in the classroom, Phillips facilitates learning by connecting with his students. He also makes it his mission to support students in demographics often overlooked in post-secondary settings. “A university education ought to be a stimulant, not a narcotic,” Phillips said. “I am gratified to be selected to receive the Dean’s Award among a group of equally gifted teachers who possess the sagacity to enact this pedagogical principle.”

Natalie Neill (Honourable Mention) – Contract Faculty Category

During the teaching awards ceremony, Natalie Neill (PhD ’09) was recognized in the Contract Faculty category with an an honourable mention. Neill’s strong support for students sets positive examples for others. She makes herself a resource for students, consistently hosts virtual office hours, always offers productive feedback, and consistently goes out of her way to accommodate group and individual needs. “I am delighted to be recognized with an honourable mention for my teaching,” Neill said. “Of course, teaching is its own reward, but receiving news of this honour was a wonderful way to begin the new year.”

Chris Robinson – Tenured/Tenure Stream Category

For his excellence in the School of Administrative Studies, Professor Chris Robinson received the teaching award in the Tenured/Tenure Stream category at this year’s event. Throughout Robinson’s long career, his commitment to innovation and experiential learning has helped students prepare for employment in their respective fields. From leading high-impact lectures to assisting in the creation of the only university program in Canada dedicated to financial planning, he’s inspired students and staff alike. “I have so much fun teaching that I don’t need this award,” Robinson said. “I get a prize every time I meet a class or mark their assignments.”

LA&PS Award for Distinction in Research

Chris Chapman – Emerging Research Category

At this year’s ceremony, Professor Chris Chapman was presented with an award in the Emerging Research category for exceptional work in expanding the field of disability research. Authoring various pieces pertaining to disability and mad studies, Chapman’s research reaches beyond York University and Canada, shedding light on these social issues for an international readership. Their research tackles these topics head on, assessing the interlocking oppression that exists between them and informing countless groups in and outside of academia. Chapman has also co-authored a play, published five journal articles and co-authored a book. 

Nirupama Agrawal – Established Researcher Category

One of this year’s recipients of the LA&PS Award in the Established Researcher category is Professor Nirupama Agrawal of the School of Administrative Studies. “Research is essential for comprehension, improvement and advancement,” she said. A founding member of the Disaster & Emergency Management program and an accomplished researcher in her field, Professor Agrawal sets the example for others to follow. Her work includes two books, articles in 18 peer-reviewed journals and many other pieces co-published with graduate students – all showcasing her familiarity with disaster and risk management from a global perspective. 

Shobna Nijhawan – Established Researcher Category

With an impressive publishing record and notable research contributions, Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics Professor Shobna Nijhawan also received an award in the Established Researcher category. Lauded for her work focusing on South Asian literatures and languages, as well as gender, feminist and women’s studies, Nijhawan’s research offers quality, quantity, scope and breadth. Her writing credits include two monographs and several book chapters on record, each illustrating her excellent talents as a leading international scholar. 

Carmela Murdocca – Distinction in Social Justice Research

This year’s recipient of the LA&PS Award for Distinction in Social Justice Research is Professor Carmela Murdocca from the Department of Sociology. Focusing on the sociology of law, race and gender, Murdocca’s research aims to shed light on various injustices. Her in-depth analysis of criminalization, racial violence, and social exclusion experienced by racialized and Indigenous people in Canada is thought-provoking and informative. For this reason, she’s been described as “the quintessential engaged scholar.” Murdocca been recognized as a Canada-U.S. Fulbright Scholar, as well as a Visiting Fellow at the Center for the Study of Law & Culture at Columbia University.

Ann Shteir Prize

Andrea Davis

Recognized for her work proposing and advocating for York’s one-of-a-kind Black Canadian Studies Certificate, Professor Andrea Davis, Chair of the Department of Humanities, received the Ann Shteir Prize for excellence in program development and curricular leadership. Earning her this esteemed honour, the Black Canadian Studies Certificate program provides students with an examination of the historical expressive productions of people of African descent. Thanks to her ongoing efforts, courses in the program take innovative humanities and fine arts approaches in the way they are taught – exploring music, literature and other cultural contributions. “It was an incredible honour to receive the inaugural Ann Shteir Prize in recognition of my work and students’ advocacy in centring Black Canadian studies into the curriculum,” Davis said. “York is uniquely positioned to take leadership in transforming the curriculum to address the needs of our diverse students. I’m glad to have played a small role in that transformation.”

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