Graduate Studies honours two professors for excellence in teaching

On Thursday, March 1, the Faculty of Graduate Studies honoured Professors Joel Katz and Paul Lovejoy for their excellence in graduate teaching and mentoring at York University.

The two professors were each presented with a Faculty of Graduate Studies Teaching Award at the the meeting of the Faculty of Graduate Studies Council. In introducing the awardees, Associate Dean Academic Affairs Thomas Loebel said the professors’ students wrote of them “with an appreciation – and affection – otherwise reserved for family.”

Above: From left, Patrick Monahan, VP academic & provost; Allan Hutchinson, dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies; and Professor Joel Katz

Joel Katz, teaches in the Faculties of Health and Graduate Studies. A Canada Research Chair in Health Psychology and affiliated with Toronto General Hospital, he sports a book-length CV of awards, boards, invited lectures and publications in the fields of psychology, anesthesiology and pain management.

In his introduction, Loebel said that Katz’s students were grateful for the his level of care, patience, kindness and enthusiasm. He displays “care for how they think, research, represent themselves and York, and how they interact– care from the macro to the micro levels, in theory and in practice,” said Loebel.

In their letters of assessment and recommendation, Loebel said that students noted repeatedly that learning from Katz’s published findings made them realize that if they wanted to develop their minds and their approaches to their career fields, and if they wanted to participate truly and significantly in the solution of health problems, then they needed to come study with him.

“When I was informed by my students that they wanted to nominate me, I felt I had already gotten the award” said Katz. Though he has received a number of awards, this one, he says, “is by far the most meaningful. I have students who make it easy and enjoyable for me to do my job.”

Paul Lovejoy, a distinguished research professor and an internationally renowned expert on the African diaspora, teaches in the Faculties of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and Graduate Studies. Among his accomplishments and credits, he is a Fellow of the Royal Society, Canada Research Chair in African Diaspora History and director of the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples.

Patrick Monahan congratulates Professor Paul Lovejoy shortly after being presented with the Faculty of Graduate Studies Teaching Award by Allan Hutchinson

A pioneer in the digital humanities, Lovejoy’s work has global significance because it opens access to rare documents and creates online-networked communities. The nomination submissions highlighted how Lovejoy integrates his students in ways that allow them to build skills for their own work. Loebel said that his students expressed great gratitude for his open-access approach to his personal library of volumes and documents that are simply not available elsewhere.

His students repeatedly commented that Lovejoy teaches them to network by example, not only as a career development tool, but more importantly, said Loebel, “as part of the process of learning and discovery, to make community by vibrant communication.”

“It’s the highest honour a professor can receive, based on the ability to share new knowledge and inspire students to achieve their potential,” said Lovejoy, who sees the award as a highlight in his career. “Of the many awards and honours I have been blessed with,” he said, “this one is special – the best.”

Before presenting the awards, Allan Hutchinson, dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, said that Katz and Lovejoy were recognized by both peers and students. They are “raising the bar with the extent of their commitment to their students.” Most remarkably, he said, “their graduate students described these professors as genuinely caring and as active participants in their development as students, as scholars and as individuals.”