Four 'exceptional scholars' win top award

By Paul Mayne
March 27, 2008

Western's latest honorees of Distinguished University Professorships join a select group of faculty members recognized for exceptional scholarly careers.

Honoured this year with the university's top award for faculty are Tilottama Rajan, William Fisher, Richard Seewald and Richard Kane.

The Distinguished University Professorship Award acknowledges sustained excellence in scholarship over a substantial career at Western. The award includes a citation, the right to use the title, an opportunity for a public lecture and a $10,000 prize to be used for scholarly activity at any time.

The university has also designated 14 Faculty Scholars for significant achievements in teaching or research. The complete list is provided on Page 7.

The following profiles of DUP winners were compiled from nomination materials submitted on behalf of the winners.

Tilottama Rajan, Department of English
Teaching at Western for more than 20 years, Tilottama Rajan has achieved international scholarship in Romantic literature, 19th century philosophy and aesthetic theory, contemporary literary theory and continental philosophy, and the organization of knowledge.

Her research record in these areas is without parallel, says Robert Stainton, Acting Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

"It might be expected that a scholar with such an exceptional record of research would have little time for professional service and teaching. This is far from the case," notes Stainton. Rajan has supervised 25 PhD and 15 MA students in her career.

Rajan, a Canada Research Chair, has been honoured with awards such as the Guggenheim Fellowship, Royal Society of Canada and Hellmuth Prize.

"She is one of our most powerfully and productively resistant thinkers, always getting us to question the uses and use-values of knowledge," says Associate Professor Joel Faflak. "She doesn't just demonstrate how to negotiate the challenges of understanding a text or having a career; nor does she merely teach or train students. Rather, she models to the highest standard the profound possibilities of living the examined life."

Richard Seewald, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders
Recognized internationally by clinicians, researchers, teachers and industry leaders as the leading expert in children's audiology, Richard Seewald has become one of the most prominent researchers in the field of audiology in Canada.

"Seewald's passion for his research and his commitment to impacting policy and, ultimately quality of life for hearing impaired children is recognized and valued by clinicians and students," says Health Sciences Dean Jim Weese. "His reputation is a significant factor in the decision of many students to pursue their clinical and research training at Western."

A Canada Research Chair in Pediatric Audiology, Seewald was recently recognized by the Hear the World Foundation with an award in his honour - the Richard Seewald Annual Award for Childhood Hearing. During his 21 years at Western, he continues his commitment to the education and career development of his professional and research students.

"He has charted new territory for audiology, and for The University of Western Ontario, in establishing strong and productive relationships with industry," says Prudence Allen, National Centre for Audiology Director. "He has had a vision for our profession and our discipline and worked hard to see that vision come to reality."

Richard Kane, Department of Mathematics
Influencing the course of mathematics in Canada, and providing leadership within the university and wider community, Richard Kane epitomizes the complete scholar.

At Western for 25 years, Kane's colleagues describe him with terms that include diplomacy, integrity and wisdom.

"His leadership has brought recognition and resources to Canadian mathematics that simply would not exist otherwise," says Science Dean David Wardlaw.

Kane not only won the Canadian Mathematical Society Distinguished Service Award, but in 2006 was recognized as the inaugural David Borwein Distinguished Career Award for his contribution to mathematics.

"I cannot think of any aspect of the Canadian mathematical community which Richard has not influenced for the better," says Thomas Salisbury, President of the Canadian Mathematical Society. "He has taken on all such challenges that have come his way, and has done so with care and attention. I can think of no finer person to be honoured."

Mathematics Chair Professor David Riley says Kane is a worthy recipient for "the generosity of his spirit, for his great sense of loyalty to his community and for his unique contributions."

William Fisher, Department of Psychology
Already recognized at Western with the Pleva teaching and Hellmuth research awards, William Fisher's continued research and teaching excellence leads naturally to this latest honour.

At Western for almost 30 years, and cross-appointed to the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Fisher's teaching skills are widely recognized and involve creating and delivering pioneering courses in the psychology of human sexuality.

"I have come to know and respect him as not only an inspired and untiring researcher, but also as a consummate teacher in every sense of the word," says Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry Professor Jim Silcox. "For one so gifted, I have found him always to be humble and ready to work with others for the greater academic good."

One of Fisher's major influences has been his model of risk-taking behaviour - the IMB (Information, Motivation, Behavioral Skills), which provides a framework for identifying and defining critical elements in the sequence of behaviour underlying risk-taking in sexual or other high risk interpersonal situations.

"He is without doubt one of the most clear-thinking and effective researchers and lecturers that I have been privileged to work with," says Raymond Rosen, Chief Scientist at the New England Research Institutes. "His contributions in the area of health psychology and reproductive health are important and enduring."

Faculty Scholars
Faculty Scholars are nominated by deans and selected by the faculty selection committee, which is chaired by the Provost. Recipients have an international presence in their discipline and are considered all-round scholars.
Winners hold the title of Faculty Scholar for two years, and receive a stipend of $7,000 each year for scholarly activities.

Greg Zaric - Richard Ivey School of Business
Tima Bansal - Richard Ivey School of Business
Jim Johnson - Department of Mechanical & Materials Engineering
Harry Prapavessis - Department of Kinesiology
Rande Kostal - Faculty of Law
Murray Huff - Department of Medicine/Biochemistry
Subrata Chakrabarti - Department of Pathology/Microbiology and Immunology
Jeff Nisker - Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Mike Kerr - Department of Chemistry
Martin Muser - Department of Applied Mathematics
Bryan Neff - Department of Biology
Daniel Christensen - Department of Mathematics
Jody Culham - Department of Psychology
Daniele Belanger - Department of Sociology


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