Staff, faculty recognized at Principal's Awards Reception

Tuesday, November 2, 2010 - 11:15am

As she took to the podium to receive the U of T Mississauga's faculty Teaching Excellence Award, Professor Alexandra Gillespie joked that she had been practising in front of a mirror with a hairbrush since she was seven years old. Moreover, her students occupy her mind constantly-in fact, she once woke up from surgery to hear that she had discussed a student's essay while under sedation.

But during her speech, it quickly became clear why Gillespie, who specializes in medieval English, has won such high praise for her abilities as a teacher. Educated at the University of Wellington in New Zealand and at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, Gillespie is known amongst her students as a highly accessible professor, who lends her own books, organizes hands-on tours of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library and creates hundreds of ‘Eureka!' moments during her classes.

Gillespie was one of several U of T Mississauga staff and faculty members recognized at the annual Principal's Awards Reception Nov. 1 in the Faculty Club.

Lisa Robertson of the Department of Biology received the teaching assistant Teaching Excellence Award. Professor Robert Reisz described Robertson as a perfect example of an outstanding teaching assistant, whose passion is not only in research but in teaching, as well.

You love to learn, and you instill these qualities in your students, Reisz said.

Robertson, who called teaching her absolute passion, added that I know now that I've definitely chosen the right path.

Professor Mohan Matthen of the Department of Philosophy was recognized with the Research Excellence Award. Matthen, who specializes in ancient philosophy, the philosophy of biology and the philosophy of perception, was described as a prolific and well-regarded researcher. He thanked his many colleagues and family, and was clearly delighted to include his newborn grandson in the celebration.

The Staff Service Awards went to two recipients: Julie Waters of sociology, and Rosa Ciantar of language studies. Professor Kelly Hannah-Moffat introduced Waters, and joked that she would be buried in ROSI (U of T's Repository of Student Information) without her. She described Waters as having infinite patience, and said that she does whatever she can for students who are struggling and in crisis. In many cases, she said, Waters has saved a student's university career.

Professor Michael Lettieri praised Ciantar's intense passion for her work and for the students she helps, and described her as terrific, talented and self-sacrificing. Ciantar, who said she feels most comfortable working behind the scenes, said she felt privileged, excited and inspired to work at U of T Mississauga.

Professor Deep Saini, vice-president and principal of U of T Mississauga, presented 10-year pins to 14 staff members who have served the campus for a decade.