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Memorial University faculty members receive awards for teaching and research excellence

Ref. No. 58

DATE:     Nov. 23, 2001
SUBJECT:     Memorial University faculty members receive awards for teaching and research excellence

Memorial University has recognized the efforts of its best teachers and researchers. Memorial President Dr. Axel Meisen presented the awards at a reception recently held at the St. John's Arts and Culture Centre. Seven Memorial faculty were honoured at the reception, five for outstanding research, and two for teaching.

Dr. Ronald Rompkey, Department of English Language and Literature, and Dr. Tran Gien, Physics and Physical Oceanography, were each named University Research Professors, the highest rank the university bestows upon its faculty. Dr. Christopher Marshall, Classics, Dr. Kristina Szutor, Music, and Dr. Peter Pope, Anthropology, each received the President's Award for Outstanding Research. Drs. Norman Garlie, Faculty of Education, and John Quaicoe, Engineering and Applied Science, were each awarded the President's Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Memorial began its annual presentation of the University Research Professor designations and the Awards for Outstanding Research in 1984, and the Distinguished Teaching Awards in 1988, as ways of singling out particularly distinguished contributions within its academic community.

President's Awards for Distinguished Teaching recognize the teaching excellence in the university community. Each winner of the teaching award receives a $5,000 grant contributed by the Memorial University Alumni Association. The President's Award for Outstanding Research recognizes researchers who have made outstanding contributions to their scholarly disciplines. Each award includes a $5,000 research grant. University Research Professors have acquired a designation above the rank of professor. The title is the most prestigious award the university gives for research, and goes to faculty who have demonstrated a consistently high level of scholarship and whose research is of truly international stature. The designation carries with it a $4,000 research grant (each year for five years) and a reduced teaching schedule. Stories on each award recipient follow below.

Dr. Christopher Marshall, Classics (Outstanding Research)

    Dr. Marshall holds an undergraduate degree in archaeology and classics from McGill University and a doctorate from the University of Edinburgh. An associate professor after only three years at Memorial, Dr. Marshall is already a well-established leader in his field. His main speciality is the theatre of classical Greece and Rome, although his interests wander widely through all aspects of the classics. His numerous articles have been published in respected academic journals such as Classical Quarterly and Classical Journal. He has spoken at conferences around the world, including in Greece, South Africa and the United States. His scholarly standing was recognized in April 2000 with a three-year Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Standard Research Grant, which he is using to explore the stagecraft of the ancient Latin playwright Plautus.

    "Classics is my passion and my drive," Dr. Marshall said. "Classics allows me to study the ancient world in all its aspects, use any methodology that I want, as long as it tells me something about the area that I am studying." And it is with novel methodology that Dr. Marshall excels. Although he is fluent in the traditional tools of the classicist - the ancient Greek and Latin languages and the methods of philological critique - his scholarship derives much of its incisiveness and vigour from his activities as an actor and director, skills foreign to most classical scholars.

    "I do see the plays I am involved with as an extension of my research because I'm interested in performance. So while the ability for me to put on a play on campus does not necessarily tell me what Euripides did or what Aristophanes did or what Plautus did, it does provide me with a laboratory that lets me conduct experiments about ancient stagecraft." This approach has benefited the local public: Plautine plays on the steps of the QE II Library and a recent interpretation of a little-known play of Euripides in the Arts and Culture Centre have not only entertained them, but taught them too.

    "I use my research as an extension of my teaching," he said. "I see my job fundamentally as a teacher. I'm teaching audiences with the plays, I teaching students in the classroom, and, through my publications, I am teaching my peers, in the same way that I learn from them when I read their articles."

Dr. Kristina Szutor, Music (Outstanding Research)

    Dr. Kristina Szutor's record as a performer during her time at Memorial is remarkable. The pianist has given over 100 public performances since her appointment in 1991. Despite the large number of shows, colleagues say they "have never heard her play with anything less than superb technical command and compelling musicianship."

    Dr. Szutor, a native of British Columbia, is an associate professor at Memorial's School of Music. She holds a master's degree from the Juilliard School of Music and a doctorate in piano performance from the University of British Columbia. She has performed throughout Canada and in New York, Switzerland and Spain. She can be heard frequently on CBC radio, both locally on Musicraft, as well as nationally on shows like Two New Hours and Take Five. While she regularly performs a wide variety of traditional solo and chamber repertoire, she has a special interest in 20th century music and has in recent years been very active in premiering and commissioning new works.

    "Among other things my research involves the commissioning of new works and adding to the body of recorded knowledge from my instrument," said Dr. Szutor. "In the less traditional sense, my performance work is my research." "Dr. Szutor's range as a performer is also remarkable," said Dr. Tom Gordon, director, School of Music. "She has developed an especially fine reputation as an interpreter of 20th-century music, including avant-garde works using prepared piano and other extended piano techniques. Her ability to interpret complex contemporary scores inspires enthusiasm for the music; even in listeners who do not like 'modern music.'"

    Her CD of solo piano music, titled Bookends in Time, features works from the first and last decades of the 20th century and includes a newly commissioned work as well as three premiere recordings. Although strictly speaking a self-produced recording, Dr. Szutor's debut disc is the result of collaborations with many of the same institutions that would conventionally partner a commercial classical recording in Canada. Under funding from the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council, the recording was produced and engineered by professionals from CBC Radio. She can also be heard on Newfoundland composer, Michael Parker's CD entitled Lyre. Dr. Szutor has premiered new works by several Canadian composers, and her new CD includes premier recordings of works by Clark Ross, John Burge, Marjan Mozetich and Robert Muezynski. Through her performances at Canadian University Music Society (CUMS) conferences, lecture-recitals and radio broadcasts, she has earned the admiration and respect of colleagues across Canada.

Dr. Peter Pope, Anthropology (Outstanding Research)

    For Dr. Peter Pope, an associate professor of Anthropology, there's no such thing as a statute of limitations. Dr. Pope, who teaches historical archaeology, specializes in trying to understand mysteries from the early modern maritime world.

    "I like the challenge of figuring out what was happening to particular people in particular places at particular times in the past," said Dr. Pope. "Explaining my version of the story afterwards is another challenge. I especially enjoy doing it if it tends to undermine the conventional wisdom."

    Dr. Pope has been awarded a President's Award for Outstanding Research in recognition of his achievements in uncovering the past and preserving it for future generations.

    "For me, the award means the university appreciates the kind of inter-disciplinary work historical archaeologists do and that it continues to support research in the social and historical sciences," he said. "The award will assist me in beginning some research on the impact of the early fishery and settlement on the Avalon Peninsula."

    Since 1993, he has been directing the St. John's Waterfront Archaeology Project, an archaeological investigation that has lead Dr. Pope and his team to uncover traces of European occupations from as early as the 16th century.

    "In the summer of 2000, we uncovered part of the original beach and explored the process of infill from about 1665 at a site near the Murray Premises on Water Street," he said. "I'm interested in these excavations because they help us understand the growth of permanent settlement in Newfoundland in the 17th and 18th centuries. The results from this project will give us a clearer understanding of the process of waterfront advance in St. John's and will be used by the provincial archaeology office and the City of St. John's to evaluate potential archaeological impact of development proposals."

    Dr. Pope is also directing the Newfoundland Archaeological Heritage Outreach Program, an initiative that aims to assist communities throughout the province in archaeological research; to help place MUN students in research positions with community projects; and to provide an ongoing assessment of how communities construct their pasts. In addition, he is supervising Newfoundland's input into HMAPS (History of Marine Animal Populations), an international project that will use historical and archaeological sources to quantify human fishing activity over the last four centuries.

    Amazingly, Dr. Pope continues to be very productive in his research publications too. He is busy making final edits to his second book Fish into Wine, the Newfoundland Plantation in the 17th Century, which will be published next year and the article he is most pleased with will appear in the forthcoming Blackwell Guide to Colonial American History, edited by Danny Vickers, a former PAOR recipient.

    With Dr. Pope involved in so many projects, one mystery surrounding his work remains: How does he find time to do it all?

Dr. Tran Gien, Physics (University Research Professor)

    Physics has always been Dr. Tran Gien's overriding passion in life. In high school in Vietnam he was drawn to the subject, and it was a natural fit for him to study physics at the University of Saigon. He excelled in his studies and won the National Prize in Physics; he was then sent abroad to pursue his studies in the United States.

    In 1966 he accepted an associate professorship at Memorial University: since then he and his wife, Dr. Lan Gien, Nursing, have made St. John's their home. Dr. Gien was promoted to full professor in 1974. A quiet, unassuming man, Dr. Gien's enthusiasm for his work is evident when asked what he does for relaxation - he talks about the joy of physics.

    Dr. Gien is a theoretical physicist whose current research field is mainly concerned with atomic scattering theory and calculations. He is recognized internationally for his contributions to the development of theoretical methods in the area of atomic collisions, which are critical to progress in such diverse areas as the planning and understanding of accelerator experiments, the interpretation of astrophysical observations, and the design of high precision instrumentation including lasers and atomic clocks. Scattering phenomena are also relevant to some medical imaging technologies such as Positron Emission Tomography (PET).

    Dr. Gien's contributions to the solution of quantum mechanical equations in closed forms are in the intermediate-energy range. He is most famous for his development of the Modified Glauber Method to deal with atomic collisions in this area. Experimental physicists at Wayne State University, Detroit, are now completing measurements on many of the collision systems that Dr. Gien has investigated theoretically.

    There is no doubt that Dr. Gien is a prolific researcher, and other physicists are particularly impressed that most of his extensive list of publications are single-authored.

    "It is very hard work to write an article by yourself," he concedes. "It requires, among other efforts, a lot of computations."

    While computers are of assistance, Dr. Gien said that they really only come into play in the final stages of solving a problem. He still relies on his own brain to get him to the stage of writing the computer codes. He admits that he can get so lost in thinking about a problem that he forgets about everyday things like dinner.

    Dr. Gien organized an International Symposium on Atomic Physics in Hanoi in 1999, and notes that in the small international world of physics research "everyone knows everyone else's work." His own research has been supported by external grants during his career at Memorial.

Dr. Ronald Rompkey, English (University Research Professor)

    Biographer, arts advocate and English professor Ronald Rompkey views the designation of university research professor as a "thrilling" endorsement, not only of his own work, but also the Memorial University mission in general.

    "It's a bit like a fantasy to have a university say to you 'we're going to allocate a certain chunk of your academic year to doing research.' "Memorial is being very progressive and forward thinking in doing this because not every university would make this time available. To have a university that sets aside two positions like this once a year is very impressive."

    A St. John's native, Dr. Rompkey was educated at Memorial (BA '65, B.Ed. '66, MA '68) and completed his PhD at the University of London (King's College). He taught English Literature in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan before returning to MUN in 1984. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a past two-term director of the J. R. Smallwood Foundation for Newfoundland and Labrador Studies.

    Dr. Rompkey has published six books, including Jessie Luther at the Grenfell Mission; Labrador Odyssey: The Journals and Photographs of Eliot Curwen on the Second Voyage of Wilfred Grenfell; and Grenfell of Labrador: A Biography. His latest work is an edition of a Labrador memoir written by Dr. Harry Paddon.

    It was as an undergraduate at Memorial that Dr. Rompkey began to hone one of his best known research specialties: Northern Newfoundland. Today, his notable work on Sir Wilfred Grenfell attracts readers and lecture audiences across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.

    A university research professorship will allow Dr. Rompkey to further his most recent area of interest: the 19th-century French presence on the Northern Peninsula. A large body of travel literature exists about this region and period. Dr. Rompkey will be editing, annotating and interpreting these original French language texts.

    As he looks forward to the next few years' labours, Dr. Rompkey once again emphasizes that the ultimate aim of his professorship - indeed all of his research activity - is unfailingly supported by the university he has been a part of for nearly two decades.

    "The Department of English at Memorial has been working on various parts of our cultural heritage since the time we became a university after Confederation. The results help explain who we are as a people," said Dr. Rompkey.

    "Part of the business of a university is to ask questions. The more reliable the texts we have to reflect who we are, the better."

Dr. Norman Wayne Garlie, Education (Distinguished Teaching Award)

    Dr. Norm Garlie has been teaching at Memorial for exactly 30 years. In those three decades, hundreds, if not thousands, of students have benefitted from his wide-ranging expertise in the field of educational psychology.

    As one of Memorial's Distinguished Teachers for 2001, Dr. Garlie is receiving one of the university's highest honours for faculty members. It's one that students and colleagues alike think is long overdue. What might seem a little unusual to most observers is that Dr. Garlie is able to inspire his students even when he has never met them in person. One such student is Cecelia Edwards-Stacey, a recent graduate of the special education degree program.

    "As an older student returning to Memorial University in May 2000 (for) my special education degree amid various personal and professional transitions, I derived much educational and therapeutic value from my courses with Dr. Garlie," she said. Ms. Edwards-Stacey also commented on Dr. Garlie's "commitment," "thoughtful advice," and "reassuring and approachable manner."

    High praise indeed, coming from another teacher, some might say, and all the more interesting because "most of my correspondence and association with Dr. Garlie has been through teleconference and e-mails, having only met him in person (in early 2001)," said Ms. Edwards-Stacey.

    In addition to his classroom expertise, Dr. Garlie remains extremely active in research as well as involvement with professional organizations and university committees. Over the course of his career, he has supervised numerous master's degree research projects, as well as acting as internal and external examiner, reviewer, and consultant on many occasions.

    Last year the video Adam Case: Twice Exceptional, on which Dr. Garlie collaborated with CAMS director Debbie McGee, won an award from the Association for Media and Technology in Education and Canada. He has also been twice honoured by the Canadian Council for Exceptional Children, in 1996 as recognition of his contribution made to exceptional children in Canada, and in 2000 receiving the Donald G. Warren Outstanding Achievement Award for distinguished long-term service to the association.

    "He is a most deserving candidate for this prestigious title," said Ms. Edwards-Stacey. "This is not only because of his lengthy and impressive list of awards, credentials, and professional achievements, but more because of the superior quality of his instruction and guidance services and the great personal commitment he offers and applies to his work."

Dr. John Quaicoe, Engineering (Distinguished Teaching Award)

    If you were to ask students what qualities distinguish Dr. John Quaicoe as a good teacher, they would say supportive, motivating, caring and enthusiastic, to name just a few. Since 1982, Dr. Quaicoe has been a teacher in Memorial's Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. For the past 19 years he has built a reputation among students and faculty members as an instructor who is deeply concerned about learning. During his time at Memorial, he has served as chair of the electrical engineering discipline for nine years, and recently, acting associate dean (graduate studies and research). It is quite fitting that he should be chosen as one of this year's recipients of the Distinguished Teaching Award.

    "I have always believed that teaching is more than being in front of a classroom and presenting information. I think one has to be in tune with the students in terms of the material that is presented. I am very conscious of this. I make sure that the students are understanding the material," said Dr. Quaicoe.

    Students have responded very well to Dr. Quaicoe's teaching philosophy. Even though many of them have gone on to graduate studies or employment opportunities outside of Newfoundland, they all say, his encouragement and support is still remembered and greatly appreciated. One former student remarked, "he teaches with a patient, caring and enthusiastic approach that produces a very effective result, one that gives me the motivation to strive to teach at the same high standard."

    When asked about his teaching philosophy, Dr. Quaicoe simply said, "I believe that effective teachers must have a vision for their students. A vision that establishes an overall educational goal and recognizes the potential and possibilities in students, irrespective of their background preparation, and allows the teacher to foster active learning in the context of the ultimate goal. This vision achieves two main goals: first, it shows the students that the teacher cares about them as individuals; and second, it establishes a commitment on the part of the teacher." Speaking on his proven commitment, faculty members have said, "many students rate him as the best professor they have ever learnt from at Memorial." They went on to say that his courses are typified by excellent organization of material, meticulous preparation of class notes, and carefully worked out examples. According to one fellow faculty member and former student, "he exemplifies the best qualities one could hope for in a university professor."

    Dr. Quaicoe is quite pleased to be receiving this award, more for the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science than for himself. When asked if this award will change the way he teaches he said, "I see it as a challenge to continue to do the best job that I can."


For further information, please contact Ivan Muzychka, manager, Memorial University News Service, 737-8665.

Editors please note that photos of the above recipients can be found at www.mun.ca/univrel/photos.html


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