York theatre professor honoured as ‘everyday hero’

Last fall, the University of California, Berkeley named Laura Levin (right) one of 200 “everyday heroes” who had enriched undergraduates’ lives in 2005. The York theatre prof was completing her doctoral studies at the time and had taught courses in acting and performance and directed several undergraduate student theatre productions.

“Laura Levin is really the best thing that has happened to me in my college career,” said the anonymous student who singled out Levin on the undergraduate experience survey. “As clichéd as it sounds, she believes in me,” wrote Levin’s admirer. “That is honestly what every Cal student needs. They need primarily to believe in themselves and their abilities. But, to also have someone who will fight with you just to affirm that they believe in you, can be enough to inspire a student to move forward.”

“It meant a lot to me to read this student comment,” said Levin, who received news of her citation near the end of her first term teaching at York. “In the midst of end-of-first-year-junior-professor-exhaustion, it’s nice to know that my teaching can make a difference.”

The survey asked Berkeley students to nominate an everyday hero who had gone beyond the call of duty to help them in personal or academic matters. The 4,000 responses were reviewed by a student team who shortlisted 200. These heroes received a letter of recognition from UC Berkeley chancellor Robert Birgeneau.

The “everyday hero” citation is just the latest in a string of honours Levin has earned. A former Fulbright Scholar, she is also the recipient of Berkeley’s Mark Goodson Award for distinguished theatrical talent, the Ogden Prize in theatre history, the Robert G. Lawrence emerging scholar prize from the Association for Canadian Theatre Research, and an Eisner Award in directing. She joined York’s Theatre Department last summer.

This article was submitted to YFile by Mary-Lou Schagena, publicist in the Faculty of Fine Arts.