Excellence honoured at annual faculty awards 

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A historian whose research has deepened our understanding of Japanese Canadians’ wartime internment and dispossession and a teacher whose skill, warmth and generosity have transformed student learning have received the faculty’s highest honours in their fields.

Jordan Stanger-Ross, an associate professor in the Department of History, was honoured with the Faculty of Humanities’ Research Excellence Award on Sept. 23 while Associate Professor Mary Elizabeth Leighton, from the Department of English, won the faculty’s Teaching Excellence Award.

Becky Cory, program coordinator for University 101, received the new Engaged Scholar Award for exemplifying the faculty’s mission to use knowledge to effect social change. And Jill Evans, office manager for the Department of Philosophy, won the faculty’s Staff Excellence Award.

Stanger-Ross earned the research award for his leadership on the Landscapes of Injustice project, which reaches beyond the academy to include those who experienced the internment and major Japanese Canadian community groups, as well as school teachers, community leaders and archival professionals.

“The contribution of Landscapes of Injustice, within many tellings of this past, has been to look at Canada’s internment era from a perspective that places the seizure and dispossession of property at the centre of the story,” Stanger-Ross said.

“The loss of all of their personal belongings obliterated the sense of home that Japanese Canadians had built over generations.”

Stanger-Ross thanked his research team, including Kaitlin Findlay, Mike Abe and Yasmin Railton, stressing that “none of our individual accomplishments would be possible without the collective.”

Leighton was honoured with the faculty’s teaching award for her reputation among her students as a “stellar teacher and scholar,” as a student recently described her. English Chair Michael Nowlin said the award was “richly deserved and long overdue” after Leighton’s 18 years’ teaching at the University of Victoria.

“Dr. Leighton has earned a reputation for transforming students’ thinking and prose, but she has also played a key role in transforming several of our core courses,” Nowlin said in his nomination letter.

When accepting the award, Leighton spoke about "three teaching truths" that included using humour (“Where there’s laughter, there’s learning”), student-centered learning (“It isn’t about me in the classroom”) and her belief that “Students teach us how to teach them.”

“Like close reading, teaching is an ethical practice that can transform our students and us through careful, sensitive, and hopefully joyful attention,” she said.

The faculty launched a new engaged scholar award that recognized University 101 coordinator Becky Cory, who has been at the helm of the barrier-free, non-credit academic program since 2006. Cory feels passionately about her role facilitating opportunities for students who have faced barriers to higher education.

"Having worked for over a decade to establish and build Uni101, which provides a not-for-credit and not-for-profit university experience to people who otherwise have no access to it, Becky is one of the unsung heroes of Humanities," Dean Chris Goto-Jones says.

"She exemplifies a commitment to education as a truly transformative force in society, and I’m delighted we could recognize her with our inaugural award."

Jill Evans was honoured with a Staff Excellence Award for her tireless work over the past 15 years in the Department of Philosophy, most recently as office manager. Prior to that, Evans worked for the business faculty for a decade.

Chair Colin Macleod praised Evan’s professionalism and dedication, as well as her cheerfulness and calm composure.

“A great deal of success of the Department of Philosophy is owed to her excellent work,” he said.