York faculty honoured with teaching awards

Two York faculty members were celebrated during Monday afternoon’s Faculty of Arts Convocation. Robert Kenedy, a professor in York’s Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts, and Joel Baetz, a teaching assistant in the English Department, Faculty of Arts, received the University-Wide Teaching Award for their demonstrated excellence in teaching.

Kenedy was described in his award citation as “an inspirational teacher whose commitment to the intellectual development of his students is clear”. John Lennox, dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, presented Kenedy to the Faculty of Arts convocation.  

Right: From left, Lorna R. Marden, York’s president and vice-chancellor; Professor Robert Kenedy; and Peter Cory, chancellor of York University

“Students have commented that Professor Kenedy has the unique ability to present material with clarity, humour, and passion,” said Lennox. “Professor Kenedy applies a rigorous and comprehensive approach in the teaching of his courses, constantly providing challenges to his students, enabling them to surpass their past successes.”

Apart from the traditional courses Kenedy teaches through the Department of Sociology, he has also been instrumental in the success of the Fundamentals of Learning course for both Arts and Science students who have been significantly challenged by the difficult academic transition and would otherwise need to withdraw. “These courses demand much from the lecturer as the material is heavy in critical skills,” said Lennox. “Through Professor Kenedy’s efforts these students are able to succeed in their university studies and join the ranks of successful academics His ability to reach such a broad cross section of students and re-energize them to the task of learning is a testament to his exceptional skill as a teacher. As a colleague notes, ‘the desire of Dr. Kenedy to go above and beyond, to think outside the mainstream of the University’s endeavours, is what makes him such a valued asset to this institution’.”

A doctoral student in the Department of English, Joel Baetz has been a teaching assistant since 2000, most recently for the courses Introduction to Canadian Literature and Cartoons and Comics I and II.

Left: From left, Peter Cory, Joel Baetz and Lorna R. Marsden

“The nomination file provides a picture of a teacher whose enthusiasm, warmth and generosity with his time bring out the best in his students,” said Lennox. “They appreciate his knowledge, clear expectations, ability to motivate them to prepare well and to participate in classroom discussion and particularly his efforts to help them produce quality written work.”

Baetz produced a “Brief Guide to Good Essays”, which, said Lennox, students found valuable for structuring their writing. “Professors with whom he has worked echo the students’ praise. One wrote: ‘Joel is the best sort of teacher. He leads his students to discover for themselves the scope of learning’s possibilities’,” said Lennox.

According to the citation, Baetz sees teaching as “an opportunity to inspire intellectual curiosity and to help students learn how to acquire and articulate compelling and complex ideas”.

The recipients of the University-Wide Teaching Award are selected by the Senate Committee on Teaching and Learning. Those chosen receive $3,000, have their names engraved on the University-Wide Teaching Award plaques in Vari Hall and are recognized at convocation ceremonies.

Other recipients of the 2005 University-Wide Teaching Award are Professor Isabel Killoran, Faculty of Education, and Professor William Found, Faculty of Environmental Studies and Faculty of Arts. Their stories will appear in tomorrow’s YFile.