Dr. Phyllis Artiss
Be it teaching, research, or administration, the hallmark of Dr. Phyllis Artiss's style can be summarized in one word: collaborative. An associate professor in the Department of English and a teacher for 35 years, it was her interest in people, her enjoyment of listening to and learning from others, that led Dr. Artiss to develop a particular interest in collaborative classes. “I learned to go into the class with the awareness that I need to learn from the students,” she said. “Without that, the class is flat. Of course, I take responsibility for the learning environment, but, ultimately, we share and we learn from each other.” When asked to discuss her own merits, Dr. Artiss veers to discussions of the contributions of others, including English Department colleagues Bill Kirwin, Roberta Buchanan, Jean Guthrie, Bill Barker, and Valerie Legge. Dr. Artiss likes to share opportunities, and donated her $5,000 honorarium from this award to the Opportunity Fund to initiate a new scholarship enabling graduate students to pursue learning about teaching and pedagogy.
A native of Nova Scotia, Dr. Artiss has a MA in English from the University of Edinburgh and a doctorate from the University of Texas. She has designed and taught courses in composition, rhetoric, linguistics, critical theory and feminist theory, served as co-ordinator of the Women's Studies Program, and was recently appointed to the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women. Currently, she is working with Education faculty Dr. Roberta Hammett and Dr. Barry Barrell on a SSHRC grant studying the interaction between literacy and computer skills. But perhaps closest to her heart is the passion to teach (what else?) how to teach. “It was helpful to me to discover there is so much to learn about teaching and pedagogy; that it's not just a question of 'you're born a teacher', but that there really is an intellectually-challenging area of research and theory to explore.”
In being nominated for this award, Dr. Artiss has been called by former students Janice Lockyer and Win Mellor-Hay “the kind of professor you meet once in your life and wish you'd met in your first year” and “the best embodiment of teaching through doing versus telling that I have ever come across.” Former student and one-time colleague Jacqueline Howse writes: “She is one of those rare friends whose constant enthusiasm and curiosity regarding my thinking continues to stimulate my learning. In my own teaching, at my best moments, I hope my students see a teacher similar to the one she has been to me.” And how does Dr. Artiss feel? “To me, the best thing about this award is getting all these wonderful letters from students and colleagues! That's the real award.”
For other outstanding teachers, see Distinguished Teaching Awards
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