Atkinson celebrates teaching and research excellence

Since 2005, the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies has recognized the achievements and contributions of its faculty members through the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Research and the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. This year, the awards were handed out at the Engaging Research & Teaching Celebration held on April 14, with an audience of faculty, staff, community and industry partners to help celebrate.

The research and awards event was the last that will be held before the launch on July 1 of the new Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, which will succeed Atkinson and the Faculty of Arts, combining the strengths of both.

The Dean’s Award for Outstanding Research was presented to Xiaohui Yu and Marin Litoiu from the School of Information Technology; Ida Ferrara and George Georgopoulos from the Department of Economics; and Pilar Carbonell and Semih Yildirim from the School of Administrative Studies. Normally, three recipients are chosen for the award. This year, the Faculty Committee on Research had such difficulty choosing from the candidates that they decided to honour all six individuals.

Right: Semih Yildirim (left) receives the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Research from Atkinson Dean Rhonda Lenton

“Atkinson boasts an exceptional group of researchers who, over the last year, have been awarded over $4 million,” said Atkinson Dean Rhonda Lenton. “Most notable is their commitment to collaborating on projects with stakeholders across community and industry and their dedication to engaging with their partners in all aspects of scholarship from the identification of research questions right through to the exchange of knowledge. I am very proud of all of our researchers and of these six award winners whose research is making a significant impact in such areas as database mining, environmental and resource economics, innovation management, finance and policy.”

Attendees at the event noticed that winners of the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching had something in common – a commitment to integrating technology into the classroom in meaningful and relevant ways.

Diane Zorn, course director in the School of Arts & Letters and course instructor in the School of Administrative Studies, was recognized for her use of innovative communication technologies in the development of online courses and instructional materials. She designs, implements and teaches fully online rich media courses using Mediasite technology and audio and video podcasting. She was awarded the United States Distance Learning Association’s 2008 Silver Best Practices Award for Excellence in Distance Learning Teaching. Her approach to online education allows students to customize their learning “on the go”.

Neil Buckley, who teaches in Atkinson’s Department of Economics, is working with Atkinson’s Office of Computing Technology & e-Learning Services (OCTES) to help plan the standardization of all economics courses offered through distance education. Buckley provides lecture summary videos to his students with text, graphical animation and audio narration elements that are accessible online, and even with portable devices such as the Apple iPod.  

Left: Neil Buckley (left) receives the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching from Atkinson Dean Rhonda Lenton

Economics Professor Sam Lanfranco’s pioneering work with computing technologies to build continuous learning and knowledge networks across global communities has earned him the teaching honour as well. His students enjoy the dynamic Web pages he has created and that he updates daily and weekly with contemporary events to give course material "context". Lanfranco employs online course wiki spaces for continuous student participation. He also uses online exams that can be taken repeatedly, both for learning and for grades.

“On behalf of the Faculty, I want to congratulate all of this year’s award winners and wish all of our researchers and educators continued success,” said Dean Lenton. “I know that the new Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies will benefit from the strengths and achievements each of them have to bring.”

For more information on recipients of either of this year’s awards, visit the Atkinson Faculty Council Office in143 Atkinson Building, or call 416-650-8193.