Morrison, Simko win Frank Knox Award

Robert Morrison of the English department.
Robert Morrison of the English department.
Mechanical engineering prof Thomas Simko.
Mechanical engineering prof Thomas Simko.

Professors Robert Morrison and Thomas Simko celebrated their Frank Knox Awards for Excellence in Teaching last night with wine and cheese in Wallace Hall.

A crowd of about 150 students and faculty gathered to watch Morrison, an English professor, and Simko, a mechanical engineering professor, to accept the annual award.

Simko and Morrison both received the Frank Knox Award, which honours professors who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to education at the University. The award is given each year to two professors, one for each of the fall and winter terms.

“In all honesty, I’m shocked. I thought I had no chance,” Simko later told the Journal. “I learned how to teach by being a student at Queen’s.”

Morrison said he is overwhelmed with gratitude.

“I feel like my students are the ones who deserve the credit,” he said. “The [award] is a real endorsement of the strength of Queen’s.”

Aliya Kassan and Emily Burns, both ArtSci ’09, congratulated Morrison, their professor, after the ceremony.

“This man can rejuvenate anyone’s academic soul,” Kassan said.

The award is named after the late Frank Knox, an economics professor who taught at the University for 40 years and was tremendously dedicated to his students. The Christopher Knapper Award for Excellence of Teaching was also presented last night. The Knapper Award honours teaching assistants who have shown an outstanding commitment to their roles in educating students.

This year’s recipients are Anita Krebs (microbiology), Stephen Larin (political studies), Perrie Faye O’Tierney (anatomy), Bonnie Chaban (microbiology), Marie Rambough (nursing), Marc Laflamme (geology) and Phillippe Rizek (anatomy).

Knapper is the founding director of the Instructional Development Centre at Queen’s. He retired in 2002 after teaching at various institutions for 40 years.

Chair of the Teaching Award Committee, Alexi White, said the teaching assistant recognition award will change next year. Rather than recognizing all nominees, only one TA will win the award each term.

White said the change will lend more legitimacy and prestige to the award.

“The pool of nominees was outstanding this year,” White said. “[The ceremony] recognizes the calibre of so many professors at Queen’s. I’m so proud to honour them.”

In his opening statement, Vice-Principal (Academic) Patrick Deane said the enrichment of students is the ultimate goal of the University.

“It is a great occasion to celebrate a huge range of types, techniques and talents,” Deane said. “There is no accolade greater than recognition from students.” Principal Karen Hitchcock echoed Deane’s sentiments, adding that teaching will always be at the heart of the University.

“This is a special institution because of the contribution by every single person in this room,” she said.

Along with congratulating the nominees and winners, Hitchcock extended her thanks to the AMS for giving students the opportunity to honour their chosen teachers.

Professors and TAs are nominated for the awards and are evaluated by the Teaching Awards Committee. The nominees are evaluated in four key areas: friendliness and accessibility, motivation and enthusiasm, clarity and organization, and commitment to the education of students.

White said that the ceremony not only honours the winners, but every nominee for their tremendous passion and true commitment to students.

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