Kathryn McPherson honoured with FGS Teaching Award

Dean Barbara Crow, left, Professor Kate McPherson, centre, and Provost Dr. Rhonda Lenton at the award presentation during Thursday’s Faculty Council meeting.
From left, Dean Barbara Crow, Professor Kate McPherson and Provost Dr. Rhonda Lenton at the award presentation during Thursday’s Faculty Council meeting

The Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) honoured Kathryn McPherson for excellence in graduate teaching and mentoring with the Faculty’s Teaching Award at the Faculty Council meeting on May 7.

“I’m delighted, honoured and very appreciative that my colleagues would put in the work for me to receive this award,” said McPherson before the ceremony. “I’m gratified to have had the opportunity to work with so many talented grad students; they have enriched my own research and my own research questions.

“I’ve been very proud about how they’ve taken the positive things they have gotten from York and taken them to other universities and institutions.”

“This is a great time to really reflect on and celebrate teaching and learning at the University,” said Rhonda Lenton, vice-president academic and provost. “Kate’s outstanding teaching, mentorship and commitment to graduate curriculum development have truly shaped a generation of scholars working in the fields of women’s and gender history, health and Western Canada. It is my sincere pleasure to congratulate Kate on this award in recognition of her profound commitment to students and to graduate education at York University.”

McPherson, a professor of history as well as gender, feminist and women’s studies, received 27 letters of support speaking to her record as “an outstanding, innovative and deeply committed teacher of graduate students.” Former students – many of whom now teach at universities across Canada – praised her ability to help them think outside the box and to develop and defend their arguments in order to grow as academics.

Adele Perry, a professor of history at the University of Manitoba and one of the principal nominators, noted that as part of McPherson’s first generation of graduate students, she benefited immensely from her mentorship. Perry’s prize-winning first book mentions in the acknowledgements that “Kate McPherson has taught me much about the writing of history, about Western Canada, about Feminism, about teaching and, ultimately, about friendship. So this book is for her.”

Described by her colleagues in the Department of History as a “pillar of the program,” McPherson has impacted a number of graduate students at York. She has supervised 20 master’s degrees and 13 PhD degrees to completion, with another 6 in progress. She has sat, or sits, on 27 doctoral committees, and contributes as an external examiner across Canada. She currently serves as associate dean, Faculty Affairs, in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, and previously served as associate dean, Students, in FGS.

The Faculty of Graduate Studies’ Teaching Award is bestowed annually on a member of FGS who has displayed substantial, significant and sustained excellence, commitment and enthusiasm to the multifaceted aspects of teaching at the graduate level at York. The award recognizes teaching and supervisory excellence. Other elements, which are taken into consideration, include scholarly, professional and teaching development, and initiatives in graduate program and curriculum development.

More than 35 students, faculty and staff were present at the award ceremony hosted by Barbara Crow, dean of FGS, and Lenton.