FPA Excellence Awards Winners: (L to R) Marc-André Gagnon, Stacy Douglas, Cristina Rojas, Donna Coghill, Mira Sucharov, and Jeffrey Smith

They were praised for supporting and challenging students, for pushing the boundaries on research, and for speaking out on difficult topics: The Faculty of Public Affairs recently recognized excellence in its faculty and staff with the FPA Excellence Awards.

The awards were handed out as part of the Faculty’s Spring Social, which also gave colleagues and friends a chance to catch up on the past school year during a bustling reception, which included a trivia contest, a video featuring recognizable faces from the Faculty, and door prizes.

Six prizes were awarded, including the FPA Research Excellence Award, which recognizes a significant research achievement by a faculty member in FPA in the preceding two years.

FPA Research Excellence Award Winner: Cristina Rojas, Political Science

FPA Research Excellence Award Winner: Cristina Rojas, Political Science

This year’s winner was Political Science Professor Cristina Rojas, whose research focuses on Latin American politics and who has an Insight SSHRC grant for her project, “Indigenous Women’s Knowledge and Societal Change in Bolivia”.

Associate Dean (Research and Graduate Affairs) Karen Schwartz introduced Professor Rojas as “an internationally renowned scholar and researcher, a recognized mentor of graduate students…and the principal investigator in a number of SSHRC grants.”

In her acceptance speech, Professor Rojas thanked her colleagues and recalled a gratifying moment when a student told her she had “helped them confront their fears and overcome their prejudice.”

Professor Rojas’ award includes a $10,000 research grant and the opportunity to organize a public lecture or research symposium.

FPA Public Commentary Excellence Award: Marc-André Gagnon

FPA Public Commentary Excellence Award: Marc-André Gagnon

The FPA Public Commentary Excellence Award recognizes a faculty member who has shared significant expertise with the media or community over a two-year period, stimulating dialogue and discourse among the public at large. This year’s recipient was Marc-André Gagnon, an assistant professor in the School of Public Policy and Administration.

“As a professor, I asked myself what I wanted to accomplish and realized I needed to speak out on important issues such as universal pharmacare,” said Professor Gagnon. “I appreciate that the Faculty of Public Affairs recognizes the importance of this work.”

In his nomination letter, Calum Carmichael, the director of the School of Public Policy and Administration, cited several examples that demonstrated how the national debate on pharmacare is informed by Marc-André Gagnon’s research.

“Dr. Marc-André Gagnon is one of the few scholars in Canada with a research program that addresses how pharmaceutical markets function and might affect social welfare,” wrote Director Carmichael. “One can understand why few delve into this area of inquiry, despite its huge importance: data are hard to access; certain stakeholders might not encourage independent analyses; and the balance between research and activism is very slippery. Dr. Gagnon has an exceptional record of navigating these challenges.”


FPA Teaching Excellence Award: Mira Sucharov

Each year, the FPA Teaching Excellence Awards recognize two faculty members and one contract instructor for merit in curricular development, student advising and engagement, teaching evaluations, classroom innovation and teaching excellence. This year’s faculty recipients were Associate Professor Mira Sucharov in the Department of Political Science and Assistant Professor Stacy Douglas in Law and Legal Studies. Jeffrey Smith won the contract instructor award.

FPA Teaching Excellence Award: Stacy Douglas

FPA Teaching Excellence Award: Stacy Douglas

In her nomination letter for Professor Douglas, one graduate student wrote, “Professor Douglas creates an inclusive and supportive atmosphere where students are encouraged to work through their ideas.”

Professor Douglas alluded to this in her acceptance speech, as well. “My job allows me to think ‘with’ students for 12 weeks at a time,” said Professor Douglas. “That ‘thinking with’ is one of the most rewarding roles for me as a professor. They inspire me to be a better teacher through their thirst for knowledge, their passion, and their insightful questioning.”

In accepting the second teaching award, Professor Mira Sucharov acknowledged the support of the Department of Political Science and the Faculty for allowing her to “follow my passions when I teach and challenging me to be a better teacher”.

Department Chair Jonathan Malloy noted that Professor Sucharov tackled innovative and sometimes difficult subjects, such as her course on Israeli-Palestinian relations.

“She is innovative both in her teaching methods and subjects of study, and has made significant and important contributions to the pedagogical literature,” wrote Professor Malloy in a supporting letter. “She is relentlessly student-centred and especially tries to ensure a relevance and connection to the millennial generation in our classrooms today.”

This year’s FPA Teaching Excellence Award for a contract instructor went to Jeffrey Smith, who teaches the graduate course on International Security Law at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs.

FPA Teaching Excellence Award: Jeffrey Smith

FPA Teaching Excellence Award: Jeffrey Smith

In his nomination letter, NPSIA Director Dane Rowlands wrote, “As a military lawyer with very relevant professional experience, he has been able to provide students with both conceptual and applied understanding of the important legal dimensions of national security.”

Mr. Smith thanked Professor Rowlands for his support, adding, “Teaching at NPSIA is a delight and a constant challenge. The dedication of students and the excellence of the institution is compelling.”
The Faculty also gave an FPA Staff Excellence Award, which recognizes excellence in the workplace, customer service, innovation, continuous improvement, collaboration, and dedication to Unit, Faculty, and University priorities.

FPA Staff Excellence Award: Donna Coghill

FPA Staff Excellence Award: Donna Coghill

This year’s recipient, Donna Coghill, has served as the administrator in the Institute of Political Economy for 15 years.

The Institute’s director, Laura Macdonald, wrote in her nomination letter: “Donna is the heart and soul of the Institute. She performs her work with a passion and commitment to excellence that is unparalleled.”

Upon accepting her award, Ms. Coghill added, “I’m thankful to be working with such great colleagues in a workplace where every day, I can see that I’ve made a difference.”

Learn more about our Excellence Awards here 

Thursday, April 9, 2015 in
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