Fine Arts Teaching Awards celebrate faculty excellence

Fine Arts teaching awards

Recognizing excellence in teaching is a longstanding tradition in the Faculty of Fine Arts. Sharon Hayashi, professor of Cinema and Media Studies in the Department of Film, and Ian Garrett, professor of Production and Design in the Department of Theatre, were honoured at the 16th annual Fine Arts Teaching Awards ceremony held Wednesday, Sept.18 at the fall Faculty Council reception.

“It’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience to come to the Faculty of Fine Arts at York and find faculty members who are not only leaders in their fields, winning external recognition for their professional achievements, but who are also highly esteemed by their students and colleagues for what they do every day in our classrooms, committee rooms, labs and studios,” said Faculty of Fine Arts Dean Shawn Brixey.

John McCullough,  Sharon Hayashi, Shawn Brixey, Ian Garrett and Teresa PrzybylskiFrom left: Department of Film Chair John McCullough, Professor Sharon Hayashi, Faculty of Fine Arts Dean Shawn Brixey, Professor Ian Garrett, Department of Theatre Chair Teresa Przybylski

“We applaud the recipients of the Fine Arts Teaching Awards as generous and thoughtful mentors. As educators who are both challenging and supportive of their students, and who are a source of inspiration to both their students and their colleagues. As researchers and innovators who are fearless and tireless in pushing and crossing the boundaries of their art. As teachers who blaze new trails and encourage those following in their footsteps to find their own paths, ” Brixey said.

“Professor Sharon Hayashi’s pedagogical approach embodies all the qualities that are important in a university teacher,” said John McCullough, chair of the Department of Film, who presented Hayashi with the Senior Faculty Teaching Award.

“She fires the imagination of undergraduates who are still trying to find their direction. At the same time, her precision and detailed focus have helped our graduate students appreciate the value of thorough and close readings and critical analysis. As a highly theoretically-minded historian, Professor Hayashi has earned a strong, positive reputation among colleagues and students, exhorting us to be excited about new approaches while holding dear the things that have animated our past selves.”

In their letters of support for her nomination, Hayashi’s students describe her as rigorous, thoughtful, inspiring and supportive. They thank her for building their confidence, encouraging interaction and participation, and for allowing for plenty of room for creative experiments and idiosyncratic views. One graduate student mentioned that she models Hayashi’s teaching methods in her own work as a teaching assistant.

HayashiSharon Hayashi

In 2010, Hayashi chaired the Department of Film’s curriculum committee to develop core and elective courses to respond to the changing needs of its programs. This followed on her work as chair of a committee from 2007 to 2010 where she led the first curricular renewal of the BA program in Cinema and Media studies since its launch in 2002. In addition to developing numerous new courses for both initiatives, she organized workshops with her colleagues to facilitate sharing of pedagogical strategies and resources. These workshops led to the implementation of hybrid studio/studies assignments, courses that encourage experiential and collaborative learning and the use of new technologies in the class room to more fully engage students.

While only tenured professors are eligible for the Senior Teaching Award, the Fine Arts Junior Teaching Award is open to full-time faculty members who are on the tenure track, or who hold contractually-limited appointments. Ian Garrett made history in winning the Junior Award in his first year of teaching at York.

“When you look at Professor Ian Garrett’s resume, you wonder how it’s possible for someone to have accomplished so much so early in his career,” said Teresa Przybylski, chair of the Department of Theatre.  “While I find these words are overused in the theatre milieu, he is truly an interdisciplinary artist and a renaissance man. It’s been a joy to discover the diverse talents and many strengths and gifts that he brings to his contributions to our students, our productions and our curriculum.”

garrettIan Garrett

In his nomination – initiated by a student – and in multiple letters of support, Garrett is described as passionate, patient, sincere and approachable. A theme that shines through all the endorsements from his students and colleagues is an appreciation for the time and energy Garrett invests in his teaching, going far above and beyond standard expectations and requirements. His students respond to this dedication enthusiastically – to the point of cheering when he enters the stage carpentry shop.

Garrett’s primary research interest is sustainability in theatre. He co-founded of the Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts, which shares and develops best practices for live arts production, and serves as coordinator for sustainability at World Stage Design, one of the most respected international conferences dedicated to theatrical design. At York he developed and teaches courses in Sustainable Design in Performance and Sustainable Staging Techniques as well as incorporating ideas of ecological impact when he teaches stagecraft, production and design.

Any member of the Faculty’s academic community, from students to department Chairs, can initiate a nomination for the Faculty of Fine Arts Teaching Awards. The Fine Arts Research Grants and Awards Committee adjudicates the submissions, taking into consideration class polls, supervision, new teaching initiatives undertaken, new courses taught, research related to teaching and curriculum development, and contributions to life and vibrancy in the Faculty of Fine Arts.

In addition to receiving personalized plaques, award recipients have their names inscribed on a Faculty of Fine Arts plaque installed in the lobby near the north entrance of the Centre for Film and Theatre, recording their outstanding teaching achievements for public recognition in perpetuity.