Six Faculty of Health professors honoured for excellence

Six Faculty of Health professors were honoured for their outstanding contributions at a presentation of the 2010-2011 Dean’s Awards for Excellence last week.

An award is given to two faculty members, one in the early career category and another in the established career category, in the areas of research, service and teaching. The awards, which took place Sept. 14, are conferred annually by the Faculty of Health Research & Awards Committee.

“This year’s winners are joining a very illustrious group. Every year the committee is faced with a very difficult task because everyone nominated is quite deserving,” said Gordon Flett, who chaired the adjudication process. “The award itself is a great way of recognizing the outstanding accomplishments, as well as the exceptional commitments that our faculty members have made both within the Faculty of Health and in the broader community.”

Above: Back row, from left, William Gage, associate dean of research & innovation in York's Faculty of Health, Christine Jonas-Simpson, Dianne McCauley and Peter Tsasis. Front row, from left, Mary Wiktorowicz, Marcia Rioux, Mary Fox and Harvey Skinner, dean of the Faculty of Health

Excellence in Research Award (Early Career) – Professor Mary Fox (Nursing)

Fox was honoured for her research in the prevention of bed rest dependency in older adults with complex chronic disease. Fox has been recognized as having made significant contributions to her field. Her work has been critiqued by Canadian Institutions of Health Research (CIHR) peer reviewers as “very innovative”, “highly significant”, and “to be of interest nationally”. A recently funded grant by the CIHR ranked Fox’s application first out of 47, and place it in the outstanding category – the highest attainable category. In addition to serving as a professor in York’s School of Nursing, Fox is an Adjunct scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute.

Fox said having her work recognized and knowing that her colleagues and students have taken the time to nominate her “means a lot.”

Excellence in Research Award (Established Career) – Professor Marcia Rioux (Health Policy & Management)

Rioux, a distinguished and internationally recognized scholar, has published 10 books and monographs, over 50 articles and book chapters, and as principle investigator has held nearly $18 million in research grants over the past 30 years. Her nominator describes her as a visionary leader who is changing the way disability is studied and responded to in the context of human rights and social empowerment.

Rioux said the award reflects a significant honour for her as does the support she has received from her colleagues throughout the University. “My work benefits from York’s rich intellectual environment and an international, interdisciplinary research agenda related to social justice and human rights.”

The award came just as her latest book, Critical Perspectives on Human Rights and Disability Law, an edited collection that recapitulates many of the themes of Rioux’s research, was published.

Excellence in Service Award (Early Career) – Professor Dianne McCauley (Nursing)

McCauley is described by her nominator as “an excellent student advocate, not only with individual students, but also, of the student body at large; the kind of solid citizen who makes the School of Nursing successful.”

“It is an honour to be recognized by my colleagues … my colleagues, staff and students have enabled me to be successful in my role and receive this award,” said McCauley.

Well known to faculty and students for her availability and supportiveness to students, McCauley has actively participated in a number of key nursing committees, including the Student Affairs Committee and the Practicum Committee. Since 2007, she has served as undergraduate program director of the Collaborative BScN Program in the School of Nursing.

Excellence in Service Award (Established Career) – Professor Mary Wiktorowicz (Health Policy & Management)

Wiktorowicz began her tenure as the chair of York’s School of Health Policy & Management in 2006, the inaugural year of the Faculty of Health. Her colleagues assert that under her leadership, enrolment to the school has almost quadrupled and applicant quality has significantly increased. Additionally, Wiktorowicz has led the development of several new undergraduate programs, and has guided the final stage of development and the launch of the new Graduate Health Program, which includes a pan-University MA and a direct-entry PhD in health.

In addition to her many outstanding accomplishments at the School of Health Policy & Management, Wiktorowicz has actively participated in many committees over the years, spanning across all levels of the University. She has been an integral part of the York University Senate and likewise as the York University representative for the Ontario Training Centre Diploma in Health Services & Policy Research. Wiktorowicz has also made a sustained contribution to service at the national and provincial levels. Her recent work on the governance of mental health networks has recently been adopted by the Ontario Local Health Integration Networks Collaborative.

When asked what service means to her, Wiktorowicz said, “Service is like planting a seed, and it takes more than a single individual’s contribution to create a beautiful garden. There are amazing people in the school who each day sow the seeds of success. Good things happen when we all contribute. Being recognized among such an exceptional group of colleagues makes this a particular honour.”

Excellence in Teaching Award (Early Career) – Professor Christine Jonas-Simpson (Nursing)

Jonas-Simpson, who says she “loves to teach,” describes her pedagogy as “reflective of an arts-based narrative interpretive human science approach.” Jonas-Simpson’s instructor evaluation scores are consistently 4.88 or 4.99 out of 5. Her students write, “Christine is by far the most caring, understanding, adaptable teacher I’ve ever had. She let us shape our class to suit our learning,” and “Christine epitomizes the human science philosophy that the program subscribes to by valuing her students’ experiences and being truly present with them.”

Jonas-Simpson has created engaging teaching tools through research-documentary films in collaboration with her colleagues from York University and the community at large. She and her research colleagues have recently received Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada funding to begin filming the fourth research documentary in a series of inter-professional educational pieces focusing on children’s experiences of the loss of a baby sibling.

Excellence in Teaching Award (Established Career) – Professor Peter Tsasis (Health Policy & Management and Administrative Studies)

Tsasis, who is appointed jointly to the School of Health Policy & Management and the School of Administrative Studies, teaches various disciplines. A nominator remarked, “It is rare to find an individual that can span his teaching across the spectrum of disciplines and deliver exceptional teaching performance.” Tsasis stretches his teaching beyond the lecture hall, mentoring many students in the Research at York program. In York’s Alumni Matters newsletter, one student remarked, “working with Professor Tsasis was one of the best experiences I will ever have in my life.” In one of four letters of support, a student said, “Dr. Tsasis has unequivocally been the best professor I have had.”

Most recently, Tsasis has undertaken an initiative to negotiate with community health service organizations internship placements for students registered in a fourth-year Health Studies Project Management course, giving students the opportunity for enriching field experience. He has also helped to create a new certificate program in Health Service Finance offered jointly by the School of Health Policy & Management and the School of Administrative Studies. This program is designed to provide students with the opportunity for fast-track entry into the certified management accountant designation, while providing a skill set much in need in the health-care industry.

 

Written by: Shazma Abdulla
Photography: Brett Thompson