Celebrating teaching excellence

Joanne Gambarotto-McKay, academic officer for the Faculty of Graduate Studies, sent YFile this report:

Two York faculty members were lauded by the Faculty of Graduate Studies on March 4 at a faculty council meeting presentation attended by 86 members of the York community. Professor Doug Crawford of the graduate programs in psychology, kinesiology, health science and biology and Professor Livy Visano of the graduate programs in sociology, social & political thought and social work received the 2003-2004 Faculty of Graduate Studies Teaching Award.

The award is given annually to teachers in the graduate studies who have displayed “substantial, significant and sustained excellence, commitment and enthusiasm to the multifaceted aspects of teaching at the graduate level at York.”

The award celebrates teaching and supervisory excellence. In addition, scholarly, professional and teaching development and initiatives in program and curriculum development are weighed by the award committee.

Right: John Lennox, dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, reads the nomination text for the faculty’s teaching excellence award presented to Livy Visano (right)

In awarding the prize to Visano, his nominators, Professor Christos Paraskevopoulos of the Atkinson School of Analytic Studies & Information Technology and former graduate student David Baker (now an assistant professor at the University of Toledo, Ohio), wrote: “What distinguishes Professor Visano from many others is his unparalleled ability to connect with and enable students to set and reach goals they had not previously considered. Many of his PhD students come from under-represented racial and socio-economic groups, and these students spoke of his earnest, selfless and committed sensitivity to the lived experiences of graduate students that allowed them to achieve beyond their expectations. All of those contacted for his nomination for this award proclaimed that without a doubt, it was because of his extraordinary influence that they have achieved their own success.”

As a mentor, Visano was praised by Baker as “actively and energetically promoting his students’ teaching and public speaking skills, their conference presentations, and their publications. His own publications serve as resources for graduate teachers as well as students, and he is internationally renowned as one of the key architects in the field of criminology.”

Left: Lennox reads from the nomination text prior to awarding the teaching excellence award to Doug Crawford (right)

In her nomination text for Crawford, York PhD candidate Aarlenne Khan wrote: “It is a characteristic of Professor Crawford’s style that he makes a point of putting his students first. His encouragement of collaboration and positive mutual support among his students has produced an atmosphere that is singularly friendly, open and engaging for all who work in his lab. Dr. Crawford’s genuine interest in his students’ overall well-being is manifest in his belief that their growth as scientists depends on their growth as persons.”

“While there are many reports of supervisors who lie at the extremes of either leaving their students alone to their own devices or of micromanaging their efforts, Doug Crawford shows a rare balance. He challenges, inspires and enlightens his students, exhibiting patience, encouragement and empathy,” wrote Eliana Klier, a PhD graduate and former student of Crawford. “In addition to being an exceptional supervisor and mentor, Dr Crawford has served the Faculty of Graduate Studies well during his fairly short career here. He was instrumental in the daunting task of revising the curriculum in the Brain, Behaviour and Cognitive Sciences area of Psychology; as well, his Biology courses are renowned for their up-to-date content and methodology.”

Visano has been nominated by the Faculty of Graduate Studies for the 2004 Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools’ (NAGS) teaching award and Crawford has been nominated for the association’s mentoring award.