Humanities sweeps the REACH awards

Humanities REACH award recipients 2021
Pictured left to right: Jordan Stanger-Ross (History), Rachel Hope Cleves (History), Brendan Burke (Greek & Roman Studies) and Tim Personn (English).

Four out of nine of this year’s REACH awards have been granted to members of the Humanities community, the university has just announced – a tremendous showing in the university-wide competition.

The prestigious REACH awards represent UVic’s top accolades for teaching and research by faculty and graduate students across the campus.

"We are thrilled to see the work of so many Humanities scholars recognized by the university in the REACH awards this year," says Humanities Dean Annalee Lepp. "Congratulations to all four of this year's winners for the well-deserved recognition of their outstanding work and accomplishments in teaching, scholarship, and knowledge mobilization!"

Teaching Awards

Tim Personn (English) will receive the Gilian Sherwin Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest honour for teaching excellence at UVic for Sessional Lecturers, Lab Instructors, and Senior Lab Instructors. Tim is an innovative and engaging teacher, one whose course design and materials provide rich opportunities not only for students to engage with each other, build community, and critically approach difficult material, but also to colleagues to discover new ideas, methods and approaches to teaching literature. He is a leader in the truest sense. His nominators highlight “how fortunate UVic students are to have an experienced teacher of this caliber.”

Brendan Burke (Greek and Roman Studies), the current Andrew W. Mellon Professor at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, will receive the Award for Excellence in Teaching for Experiential Learning. Hands-on, immersive, dynamic learning is integral to Brendan’s entire philosophy of teaching, forming a career-long commitment that has profoundly enriched the academic, intellectual, and cultural experiences of hundreds of UVic students in the Faculty of Humanities and beyond through the Department of Greek and Roman Studies’ Semester in Greece and Study Abroad programs, which he also directs. Brendan is not only an excellent teacher and inspired supervisor and mentor, but is also an internationally recognized expert in the development and deployment of travel-enriched education and a fierce advocate for making experiential learning accessible to students from all backgrounds. A former student noted, “Above all, Brendan taught me that scholarly work can be full of wonder and excitement while still addressing rigorous academic questions.” They conclude, “His example as an educator continues to motivate me today.

Tim Personn and Brendan Burke exemplify the highest standards of teaching, inspiring students and colleagues alike through their passion for their subject matter. Both are outstanding researchers who show great presence in the classroom."

— Lisa Surridge, Humanities Associate Dean Academic

Research Awards

Jordan Stanger-Ross (History) will receive the Award for Excellence in Knowledge Mobilization, in recognition of the award-winning work he leads with his partners, students and collaborators on Landscapes of Injustice (LOI). Through multiple, purposeful, and intentional strands of knowledge mobilization, Jordan has led LOI to transform lives—locally, nationally, internationally. His vision has significantly advanced scholarly understandings of the internment of Japanese Canadians, telling a new history of its origins, unfolding and legacies, within which many more Canadians are implicated than previously known and established. It has pushed Canadians—in the academy and in the public alike—to grapple with a complex history of systemic racism, charting its toxic intersection with ideological framings and legal and political institutions of citizenship, property, and justice. This is a project that exudes excellence in all aspects of community-based partnership research, but for which the knowledge mobilization in particular stands apart as the model for humanistic enquiry and societal change. It has connected family members, students, academics and the public with new knowledge and new ways of understanding the past to contextualize the present and help foster justice in the future.

Rachel Hope Cleves (History) will receive the Silver Medal for Excellence in Research. Rachel’s research record is one of consistent and continuous productivity and impact, but perhaps more importantly, she is unapologetically intrepid, described by a peer as “without doubt, one of the leading historians of sexuality in North America.” In discussing her research with undergraduates last fall, she said, “If your work makes people angry, makes them react, that’s a good thing. Who wants to be anodyne?” It is not, therefore, only that her scholarly impact has been transformative, or that she has advanced public dialogue, or that she engages effectively within the academy and with the public. She is intensely curious and courageous. She follows the evidence unflinchingly; she does not curate it to make it more palatable, but engages it with it honestly, critically, and with a richly informed historical and theoretical lens. 

"The innovative work of Jordan Stanger-Ross and Rachel Hope Cleves has challenged established histories, revealed hidden complexities of misunderstood identities, and shaped both public and academic perspectives on morality. Their scholarship is a powerful testament to the values that unite us as a Faculty."

— Alex D'Arcy, Humanities Associate Dean Research 


Past recipients


Helga Thorson, Germanic and Slavic Studies. Award for Excellence in Teaching for Experiential Learning.

Lynne Marks, History. Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Supervision and Mentorship.


Elizabeth Vibert, History. Excellence in Knowledge Mobilization.

Kaitlin Findlay (MA), History. Andy Farquharson Teaching Excellence Awards for Graduate Students.


Megan Swift, Germanic and Slavic Studies. Excellence in Undergraduate Research-Enriched Teaching.

Georgia Sitara, Gender Studies/History. Gilian Sherwin Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Charlotte Schallié, Germanic and Slavic Studies. Excellence in Knowledge Mobilization.

Natalie Boldt (MA), English. Andy Farquharson Teaching Excellence Awards for Graduate Students.


Stephen Ross, English. Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Supervision and Mentorship

Pamela Fraser (MA), French. Andy Farquharson Teaching Excellence Awards for Graduate Students



Authors: Philip Cox and Alex D’Arcy