York honours two faculty members with teaching awards

In keeping with its tradition of honouring excellence in teaching, York awarded two full-time faculty members, Professor Isabel Killoran and University Professor William Found, with the 2005 University-Wide Teaching Award during convocation ceremonies on Tuesday, June 14.

Killoran, a professor in the Faculty of Education, was lauded during the morning convocation ceremony. Paul Axelrod, dean of the Faculty of Education, described her as a dedicated and exemplary university teacher. “A specialist on inclusive education, special education, and the education of young children, she is admired for her extensive knowledge, her cultivation of students’ critical sensibilities, and her remarkable accessibility to graduate and undergraduate students alike,” said Axelrod. “As further testimony to her instructional success and her growing reputation, she also received one of two university-wide Graduate Teaching Awards this year.

Right: From left, Lorna R. Marsden, York’s president and vice-chancellor; Peter Cory, York’s chancellor; and Professor Isabel Killoran

“Her excellent classroom teaching is enriched by innovative research and deep involvement in the educational community beyond York. She has contributed to the transformation of curriculum, teaching and learning practices on campus, within school boards, and both nationally and internationally,” said Axelrod.

The nomination document describes Killoran’s many initiatives, including her pivotal role in developing a continuing education course for teachers on the subject of special education, which sees several hundred teachers enroll annually in the program. Outside of the classroom, Killoran provides students with the opportunity to expand their exposure and experience through her work with the Focus on Inclusive Education newsletter and the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

“Professor Killoran’s students describe her as a ‘gifted professor with a commitment to excellence in research’. Her enthusiasm for teaching, learning, and for education proves to be an important part of effective teaching,” said Axelrod. “She is an inspiration to both students and faculty.”

Left: Lorna R. Marsden congratulates Professor Willam Found during the convocation ceremony

Found, University Professor in the Faculty of Environmental Studies and in the Geography Department, Faculty of Arts, was celebrated during the afternoon convocation ceremony for the Faculty of Science & Engineering, School of Kinesiology and Faculty of Environmental Studies. Found was described by Joni Seager, dean of the Faculty of Environmental Studies, as having achieved distinction in all aspects of the life of York University. “As a researcher, he has published numerous monographs and books in addition to articles in academic journals,” said Seager. “As an administrator he has held several key positions, including Chair of the Geography Department, director of international services, vice-president of academic affairs (a position he held for six years) and, more briefly, acting president of York University.

“Two aspects of Professor Found’s teaching can be singled out as especially significant in fostering excellence. First, he incorporates his field research directly into his teaching, thereby providing his students with direct encounters with archival materials, as well as with the landscapes of his regions and the people who inhabit them,” said Seager. “Secondly he uses new methods of instruction, putting technology to good use in making his material accessible to students.

“These characteristics have come together in one course which deserves special mention. It is a second-year undergraduate course focusing on the region of the world that is his main interest, and titled ‘Geographical Transformation of the Caribbean Islands’. The course is characterized by innovations such as the use of the Internet to access maps and data, and the use of videos which Professor Found has made during his own fieldwork,” said Seager. “Students come to think of themselves not as passive recipients of information, but as active participants in the creation of the course.”

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.