York honours four long-serving professors

York bestowed titles of the highest order upon four of its long-serving faculty members at Spring Convocation this year.

Historian Nicholas Rogers and mathematician Jianhong Wu were named distinguished research professors for sustained and outstanding scholarly, professional or artistic achievement largely accomplished at York.  

Political scientist David Dewitt and education scholar Don Dippo were named University professors for extraordinary contributions to York as colleagues, teachers and scholars.

The following profiles are based on citations given at convocation ceremonies in June:

Distinguished Research Professors

Nicholas Rogers (right) is one of the world’s leading scholars of the political culture of 18th-century British and Atlantic worlds.

In his writing, Rogers blends keen insights into the nature and operation of the early modern state with a detailed understanding of the social and cultural contexts in which it functioned. He has explored a remarkably diverse range of topics, from reactions to press gangs in British ports to religious conflicts amongst London’s crowds, from food riots to public reactions to blunders made by admirals, and even the genealogy of Halloween festivities. His compelling prose, intellectual rigour, powers of synthesis and painstaking archival research has allowed him to produce works that have served as models for subsequent writers on these and other topics. 

In 1999, Rogers was awarded the Wallace Ferguson Prize for his book Crowds, Culture and Politics in Georgian Britain, a study of 18th-century Britain that fundamentally transformed our understanding of early modern Britain and prompted historians to reconsider how they treat the interplay between politics and culture. He brilliantly and persuasively mapped the pathways of political power and identified those who opposed, resisted and deflected its effects.

Jianhong Wu (left) is best known for his groundbreaking work on the application of mathematical modelling to the epidemiology of infectious diseases and was instrumental in establishing the MITACS Centre for Disease Modelling at York. This research has had a direct impact upon public health policy in Canada and abroad. After the SARS crisis in Toronto he was asked to establish a national working group on disease modelling and since then his research has advanced our understanding of H1N1, West Nile virus and avian influenza, to name but a few.

Wu joined York in 1990, and was named Canada Research Chair in Industrial and Applied Mathematics in 2001. He has made fundamental advances in a number of seemingly disparate areas, from wave theory to neural network theory to differential equations and his intellectual achievements have made him an international leader in the field of applied mathematics. His career exemplifies York’s emphasis on interdisciplinarity and on the application of research to real-time issues.

University Professors

Since political scientist David Dewitt (right) joined York in 1984, he has demonstrated the utmost commitment to York through his scholarship and outstanding service to other researchers, and in his two terms as the associate vice-president (AVP) of research in the humanities and social sciences.

Dewitt is a widely respected expert on human security and was instrumental in establishing the York Centre for International & Security Studies. At the heart of his research into arms proliferation, conflicts in the Asian Pacific and the Middle East and national defence policies have always been a concern for managing conflict and the safety of peoples. He has passed these essential concerns on in his mentoring and supervision of generations of graduate students and junior faculty.

As AVP, he has been pivotal in transforming York’s research culture. He has been a motivating force in improving service support for researchers, increasing the number of external grants, creating facilities for organized research units and establishing an influential York presence on national research councils. In all of these endeavours he has been mindful that research is not the exclusive preserve of those in science, engineering and medicine. His constant attention to York’s enduring research strength in the humanities and social sciences has made him an ideal ambassador both to this University and for research and scholarship in all fields of human knowledge.

Don Dippo (right) has made an extraordinary contribution to the University as a colleague, teacher, mentor and scholar. He has played an important, consistent and multifaceted role in the development of the Faculty of Education and to York University. Through his teaching, administration and scholarship, he has also helped others learn how and why community engagement matters.

Before he joined York in 1987, Dippo was an elementary school teacher specializing in music. He has brought the same skills, knowledge, dedication, patience and energy he used as a teacher to his academic life to great and wide acclaim.

Dippo has served as graduate program director and twice as associate dean of preservice education. He has spearheaded new initiatives and educational innovations dedicated to enhancing social justice and inclusivity. He has encouraged advanced study that will transform lives and communities. And he has posed urgent and difficult questions.

Dippo devotes long hours to initiatives that involve schools and community organizations. He is actively affiliated with York’s Centre for Refugee Studies. He is sought out by graduate students who enjoy his lively mind and capacious scholarly reach.