Four York Faculty of Arts professors win Dean’s Awards

It was their excellence in the classroom along with contributions to departmental teaching culture that earned York’s English Professor Darren Gobert and humanities Professor Eric Lawee this year’s Faculty of Arts Dean’s Award for Outstanding Teaching, while the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Service to Students went to social science Professor John-Justin McMurtry and sociology Professor Mavis Morton.

Right: Darren Gobert

“We are fortunate to have many outstanding faculty members in the Faculty of Arts, but this afternoon we honour some truly exceptional teachers for their remarkable contributions both inside and outside of the classroom,” said Robert Drummond, York Faculty of Arts dean. The annual Dean’s Awards were presented at the Faculty’s council meeting Oct 17.

Students praised Gobert – who specializes in comparative modern and contemporary Western drama, and dramatic and performance theory – for his enthusiastic, articulate and compelling teaching style, his infectious enthusiasm for the material and his ability to engage large audiences during lectures. “Without a doubt, Professor Gobert was the most impressive teacher I encountered at York University and his classes remain the most memorable and inspiring of my undergraduate studies,” said a student referee.

Left: John-Justin McMurtry

One of the teaching assistants at the awards ceremony called Gobert a mentor, saying he provided guidance to teaching assistants while encouraging them to find their own voices and styles as instructors. One of Gobert’s colleagues applauded him for inspiring his students to rise to a higher level in their engagement with their subject matter. Gobert is on leave this year and was not in attendance for the awards ceremony.

As for Lawee, his students appreciated his engaging manner and considered him a model instructor – learned, dedicated and kind-hearted. “In my many years of postsecondary education, I have rarely seen such nobility of character in a professor,” said one student referee. Lawee is known for his thoughtful, meticulously organized and well-delivered lectures. One colleague said: “I consider Professor Lawee a mentor whose excellent teaching skills have served as both an inspiration and a model for me to improve my own.” Lawee’s research focuses on medieval and early modern Judaism and Jewish history, with an emphasis on intellectual history.

Right: Eric Lawee

McMurtry, coordinator of the Business & Society (BUSO) program, advised students working on Pulse, the BUSO student magazine. Students commended him for being a great adviser and credited his guidance for making the magazine more engaging, creative and contemporary. He also served as mediator between the faculty and the club. The students applauded his ability to supervise and advise them while allowing them the independence to push themselves and discover their own potential. One student said, “Professor McMurtry’s unique teaching style, positive attitude and great understanding of students and their difficulties is significantly valuable.”

Left: Mavis Morton

Mavis Morton assisted the Sociology Undergraduate Student Association (SUSA) with various events and initiatives in the capacity of faculty adviser. SUSA members praised her exceptional contributions to the association, noting she had shown a genuine passion for the success of the organization. Students were also grateful for the exceptional amount of time she devoted to composing letters of reference for students applying to graduate school; providing guidance on schools, programs and the writing of applications; supervising numerous independent study projects; and conferring with former students seeking advice after graduation. “Professor Morton is, overall, passionate about enriching student experiences by encouraging the importance of extracurricular activities,” said one student.