Teaching and research excellence celebrated at Glendon

Glendon Professors Cynthia Zimmerman, Radu Guiasu and Danielle Russell received Principal’s Awards for research and teaching excellence at an annual celebration and award ceremony on Nov. 16, hosted by Alexandre Brassard, director of research at Glendon, and research officer Reagan Brown.

Following a sneak preview of the soon-to-be-launched, newly reconceptualized Glendon research Web site, Brown gave a PowerPoint presentation of this year’s research results – nine books, 52 peer-reviewed articles, 25 books chapters, three edited books and a total of $751,787 in research funding.

This year’s Research Excellence Award for outstanding contribution to research in the last three years was presented to English Professor Cynthia Zimmerman (right).

“These last three years have been particularly productive ones for Zimmerman, and while she has published a volume a year since 2005, in terms of her scholarly career, this output is by no means unique and indeed shows no sign of coming to a halt,” said Professor Ann Hutchison, chair of Glendon’s Department of English, in her nomination letter. “Her main research has centred on making Canadian women playwrights and their plays known and available to the academic community, and, even more broadly, to those associated with the world of the theatre in Canada. Her Playwriting Women: Female Voices in English Canada (Simon & Pierre Publishing, 1994) has been celebrated as a pioneering work and essential reading in this field."

Glendon was Zimmerman’s first job after obtaining her master’s degree in the 1960s and while working on her PhD on “Madness and Modern Drama” in 1977. “I saw Peter Brooks’ production of The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat by Peter Weiss and, in contemporary parlance, it was awesome," she says. "The combination of history, spectacle and madness, and the ingenuity of performance all came together for me as a topic on which I wanted to focus.”

Left: Glendon’s Department of English celebrates the Prinicpal’s Awards with Cynthia Zimmerman (front, third from left) and Danielle Russell (front, fourth from left)

The Work: Conversations with English-Canadian Playwrights (Coach House Press, 1982), edited in collaboration with Glendon drama Professor Emeritus Robert Wallace, followed. It contains interviews with 26 Canadian playwrights along with crucial information about finding funding and the challenges of playwriting.

While teaching Canadian drama and English-speaking theatre at Glendon, Zimmerman continues writing and editing. The Betty Lambert Reader (Playwrights Canada Press) was published in May 2007. In 2008, she completed the last of three volumes of Sharon Pollock: Collected Works, and in the fall of 2010, Playwrights Canada Press will publish another major work edited by her, Reading Carol Bolt.

Zimmerman expressed her thanks to nominators Ann Hutchison and Glendon English Professor Carol Fraser, and for the enthusiastic support provided by the entire department. “Canadian theatre is thriving, and important companies such as Soulpepper are intensifying their commitment to Canadian works. I am very proud to be part of that,” she said.

Right: Student Omid Fekri (left), Professor Radu Guiasu and Principal Kenneth McRoberts

The Principal’s Teaching Excellence Award for a tenure-track faculty member went to environmental & health studies Professor Radu Guiasu of the Department of Multidisciplinary Studies, who earned his PhD in zoology in 1997 from the University of Toronto.

Omid Fekri spoke on behalf of the students who nominated Guiasu for this award. “Professor Guiasu is that exceptional teacher who is able to make science fascinating and accessible to students who did not come to university with an interest in science,” said Fekri, who has taken six of Guiasu’s courses so far. In fact, students gave Guiasu a phenomenal 95 per cent approval rate, with descriptions such as inspiring, approachable, very knowledgeable, very fair and sincere. 

“Professor Guiasu invests a great deal of effort into designing original courses and, in all of these, he presents, as well as expects, the highest standards and inspiring work ethics,” said Fekri. “His course material and unique teaching style, complemented by excellent notes and audiovisual materials, have allowed us to immerse ourselves in the world of biology and to complete our studies with a deep understanding of the subject matter. As a result, many of us, majors and non-majors alike, enrolled in subsequent classes taught by him and even chose environmental & health studies as their field of specialization. We, his students, truly appreciate what we have received from him.”

Guiasu (BSc Spec. Hons. ’86) confirmed his great love for teaching, a field where he followed in the footsteps of his father, York mathematics and statistics Professor Emeritus Silviu Guiasu. Radu Guiasu has published 20 scientific articles and one book, Entropy in Ecology and Ethology (Nova Science Publishers, 2003), co-authored with his father.

Left: York grad Elise Divey (left) and Professor Danielle Russell

Glendon English Professor Danielle Russell (BA Hons. ’90, MA ’93, PhD ’03) received the Principal’s teaching award for contract faculty. Elise Divay, a recent graduate of English studies (BA Hons. ’09) spoke on behalf of the students who nominated Russell for the award.

“Seeing Professor Russell receive this award means a lot to me and to so many students, because it recognizes her teaching expertise and professionalism, and honours her invaluable contribution to our English Department,” said Divay. “I believe that fostering curiosity, passion and self-confidence in one’s students are among the most honourable qualities for a dedicated teacher, and Professor Russell has managed this task admirably. Thank you for making our education at Glendon a wonderful experience by sharing your passion and instilling academic knowledge, but also curiosity and motivation, in our minds and hearts.”

Françoise Mougeon, associate principal, academics & research, said: “Since first coming to teach at Glendon in the fall of 2003, Danielle Russell has shown herself to be extraordinarily versatile. Whether she is teaching a foundation course, historical literature, contemporary literature or children’s literature – the course for which she is most widely acclaimed – the standards she sets both for herself and for her students are high, and the results, like the evaluations, are excellent.”

Glendon Principal Kenneth McRoberts and Mougeon expressed their pride in the achievements of Glendon’s faculty, especially given that the two forces of research and teaching put a heavy burden on academics. “With the reduction in funds for universities, it is even more difficult to produce outstanding results,” said Mougeon. “It is all the more inspiring, then, to see the remarkable achievements of our teaching faculty.”

Submitted by Marika Kemeny, Glendon communications officer