Twelve York profs move to next step in TVO best lecturer contest

Enthusiasm, wit, charisma and clarity are just some of the qualities cited by students and alumni who have nominated their college and university professors from across the province in TVO’s Big Ideas Best Lecturer Competition IV. Twelve York faculty are among the professors from 24 postsecondary institutions who are participating in the first round of the contest.

According to Big Ideas organizers, this year’s event has seen a record number of nominations. "We received an initial 285 individual student nominations for 160 professors," said Wodek Szemberg, producer of the best lecturer competition. "Of these, 125 professors from 24 schools remain in the competition, confirming that the search for Ontario’s best lecturer, now in its fourth year, is gaining widespread support among Ontario’s academics." (Thirty-five professors have chosen not to continue in the competition for reasons such as maternity leave or sabbatical.) The tally of nominations exceeds the previous record of 258 individual nominations in the competition’s first year.

The next stage of the competition invites nominees to submit a tape of their lecture for consideration. Following review of these tapes, 20 semifinalists will be chosen. Then, a panel of judges will choose 10 finalists, who will be invited to deliver complete lectures on TVO’s "Big Ideas" beginning Feb. 28, 2009. Viewers will be invited to grade each of the finalists and cast their vote for Ontario’s next Best Lecturer.

York nominees come from across the University. They are: 

Chris Cavanagh
Faculty of Environmental Studies
Cavanagh is an associate fellow of the York Institute for Research & Innovation in Sustainability. He is also a part-time faculty member in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies where he teaches a course in popular education and social change. An educator, storyteller and graphic artist who has worked in human rights and social justice education since 1979, Cavanagh’s areas of interest include popular arts production, coalition building, anti-racism, international solidarity and democratic organizational change. Cavanagh is a co-founder of the Catalyst Centre. 

Claudio Colaguori
School of Social Sciences, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies
Colaguori is a sociologist who is passionate about getting people to think outside-the-box regarding human behaviour and social life. Sometimes controversial and sometimes illuminating, Colaguori’s lectures make social concepts relevant to students by helping them critically understand the world around them. The main theme of his sociology is that we humans construct our own social world and therefore we can make it a better one. His teaching has been very well received and has ranged from small seminars to large 900 student classes. He has twice earned the John O’Neill Award for Teaching Excellence. Colaguori presently lectures in sociology, criminology and social science.

Jerome (Jerry) Durlak
Communications Studies Program, Division of Social Science, Faculty of Arts
Durlak focuses on new media and the social impact of advanced communication technologies. He is also on the faculty of the Interactive Art & Entertainment Program of the Canadian Film Centre, where he teaches the history of new media. Currently he is writing a book tentatively titled "Bottoms Up" which deals with the impact of new communications technologies on social and economic activities in the developing world.

Michele Johnson
Department of History, Faculty of Arts
Johnson remains connected to her roots in Jamaica through her work as a professor and researcher at York. She couples her identity and academic interests through research questions that explore culture and gender in Jamaica in the post-slavery period. 

Gus Kandilas
School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health

A lecturer in the School of Kinesiology & Health Sciences, Kandilas has a background in sports medicine. He is a certified athletic therapist and operates a number of athletic therapy clinics. He has a doctorate in osteopathy and teaches athletic therapy at York.

Dalton Kehoe
Division of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts
Kehoe teaches social science and communication studies in the Faculty of Arts. He also teaches in the Executive Development Division of the Schulich School of Business. His communication courses focus on the interpersonal, small group and organizational levels, and he conducts workshops on effective communication for leaders. He has won the University-Wide Teaching Award for full-time professors at York.

Kathryn McPherson
Department of History, Faculty of Arts, and School of Women’s Studies
McPherson teaches history in the Faculty of Arts. Her areas of research focus on nursing history; women and health; rural women; and women and agricultural settlement in 19th-century western Canada. She is the author of Bedside Matters: The Transformation of Canadian Nursing, 1900-1990 (1996) and is a co-editor of Women, Health and Nation: Canada and the United States Since 1945 (2003) and Gendered Pasts: Historical Essays on Femininity and in Canada (1999).

Mitzi Grace Mitchell
School of Nursing, Faculty of Health
Mitchell has been a lecturer in the School of Nursing since 2004. As a registered nurse, she has pursued a career as a gerontological specialist for over 20 years. During this time, she has continually studied to upgrade her knowledge. Currently, she is pursuing a PhD in public health with gerontology as the focus of her research.

Myriam Mongrain
Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health
Mongrain obtained her PhD in clinical psychology from McGill University, and has pursued her research interests in personality vulnerability to depression since her arrival at York in 1993. She is currently interested in cognitive, interpersonal, and social support variables associated with immature dependence and self-criticism, with the goal of developing better models predicting depressive onsets. She is also pursuing the study of resilience factors in combating depression and the development of positive interventions to build strength in those vulnerable to the disorder.

Merv Mosher
School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health
Mosher is a senior lecturer and former women’s volleyball coach in the School of Kinesiology & Health Science. In 2005, he was recognized by the government of Ontario and the Sport Alliance of Ontario with a Syl Apps Special Achievement Award for volunteer work on behalf of the Ontario Volleyball Association. He teaches three courses in kinesiology that focus on research methods, data analysis and skilled performance & motor learning. He was inducted into the Volleyball Canada Hall of Fame in 2007.

Julia Richardson
School of Administrative Studies, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies
Richardson is a professor of organizational behaviour in the School of Administrative Studies. She teaches courses at first, second and fourth year levels. Richardson has a passion for teaching and particularly enjoys an interactive atmosphere in her classes. Before coming to Canada in 2003 she had taught in Japan, Indonesia, New Zealand and Singapore. She is the author of a new book The Independent Expatriate: Academics Abroad (2008).

Karolyn Smardz Frost
School of Arts & Letters, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies
Smardz Frost teaches African Canadian history at York. She is also the former executive director for the Ontario Historical Society and has been closely involved with York’s Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples. In 2007, she received the Governor General’s Literary Award in the non-fiction category for her book I’ve Got a Home in Gloryland: A Lost Tale of the Underground Railroad.

About the TVO Best Lecturer Competition

Sponsored by TD Insurance Meloche Monnex, the Best Lecturer Competition was created to recognize the best and brightest lecturers at Ontario’s colleges and universities. The competition invites Ontarians to nominate professors whose love of learning has helped to stimulate imaginations, open eyes and push boundaries in institutions of higher learning across the province. "Big Ideas" is TVO’s popular televised lecture series, offering lectures on a variety of thought-provoking topics that range across politics, culture, economics, art history and science.

To spur on friendly competition between university and college campuses, the winner not only receives much deserved recognition and bragging rights, but also a $10,000 TD Insurance Meloche Monnex scholarship for their school.

For more information, visit the TVO Big Ideas Best Lecturer Competition Web site.