'These are brilliant accomplishments'
Forty-four librarians and faculty at Concordia were promoted and/or received tenure in 2017, a milestone celebrated at a special event held on Wednesday, December 6.
“Earning tenure or promotion signifies the excellence that individuals are deemed to have achieved by their peers,” said Graham Carr, provost and vice-president of Academic Affairs.
“These are brilliant accomplishments and ones that the university is proud to celebrate. We are fortunate to have so many gifted faculty contributing to Concordia’s success and to our increasingly outstanding reputation.”
‘Behind every publication is a story of teamwork’
Matthew Harsh from the Centre for Engineering in Society (CES) says receiving tenure and a promotion to associate professor was not only a personally gratifying experience but also one which provided a moment of pause in which to recognize others.
“You realize behind every publication, every project, there's a story about teamwork and collaboration, a story about inspiration and working with students and colleagues,” he says, noting the event marked a milestone for his department.
“We’re a really small unit comprised of a handful of humanists and social scientists embedded in the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science,” says Harsh, who teaches complementary courses on ethics, public policy, sociology and communications to engineers.
“This is the first time we’ve grown large enough to have a departmental tenure committee.”
Harsh hopes his promotion signals a boon for the CES, adding the centre has big plans to expand and explore new models of teaching that would allow for more engaged scholarship, such as a field school.
“I’m hoping to take engineering students from across disciplines to Rwanda to learn about some of the successes they’ve had with their transition to a sustainable low carbon economy,” says Harsh. “This is really exciting and new, and it flips the traditional model on its head.”
‘Tenure is a rite of passage’
“Getting tenure is a rite of passage, it represents a lifelong commitment to the university and to teaching, research and service to the broader community,” says Adeela Arshad-Ayaz from the Department of Education, who was promoted to associate professor.
Arshad-Ayaz left a lucrative tenure-track position at another university in 2009 to join the Faculty of Arts and Science at Concordia. “Coming here was so vital to me that I was willing to leave three years of seniority behind.
“This is because Concordia has so much to offer in all realms of life, from the ability to carry out cutting-edge research to the institution’s dedication to teaching and learning, which hasn’t been compromised even in the age of austerity and budget cuts.”
As a sociologist, Arshad-Ayaz explores the impact of technology and social media on society, specifically focusing on the rise of hate speech in online environments. Part of her work involves hosting the ‘Teaching about Extremism, Terror, and Trauma’ symposium, which attracts scholars from all over the globe to Concordia every year.
As she continues her work, Arshad-Ayaz says she hopes to see Concordia stay at the forefront of counter-radicalization education. “We have started the journey, and I look forward to years of engaging with students, and to a productive research program at Concordia University.”
A dynamic time to be a librarian
For Michelle Lake, being promoted to associate librarian is reassurance that all her hard work has been worthwhile.
“It’s recognition of my dedication to the students, and it makes me feel so lucky to have found a workplace with supportive, generous colleagues who have confidence in me to represent Concordia and support my department,” she says.
Lake works as the reference and subject librarian at the Webster Library for the Department of Political Science, the School of Community and Public Affairs and for government publications. Her work involves selecting subject-specific books and resources, providing workshops to classes and students, and one-on-one consultations.
“Our students are wonderful, they're curious and hardworking, and it’s a joy to be able to support them. My number-one goal as a librarian is accessibility, to open up as many resources as possible to as many people as possible.”
Lake says it’s a dynamic time to be a librarian at Concordia, especially since the recent renovations and addition of so many new services.
“I’m so excited about what the future holds,” she says. “We are in the process of rethinking the ways in which we engage people, and experimenting with how we might open up new ways of thinking, new ways of learning, and new kinds of information.”
‘I plan to use the momentum’
When Yuan Wang from the Department of Finance received tenure and a promotion to associate professor he saw it as a clear sign that he was on the right track.
“It means a lot to me and I plan to use the momentum to continue making strides in research and teaching,” says Wang, whose current research is motivated by the 2008 financial market crash.
Wang’s work covers two important topics in finance: credit risk and stock returns. He seeks to understand the driving factors behind the crisis that spawned the most severe financial turmoil since the Great Depression.
“Now I can plan long-term research projects that span over 10, even 20 years,” says Wang. “This opens up whole new opportunities for discovery and scholarship.”
Moreover, Wang says he’ll also be able to develop more graduate-level courses at the John Molson School of Business related to his research focus in order to pass on cutting-edge knowledge directly to his students.
A privilege with responsibilities
For Steven Stowell, associate professor in the Department of Art History, receiving tenure will allow him to work freely on projects he finds meaningful, inspiring and interesting.
Along with this privilege, he says, come various responsibilities.
“This includes the responsibility to simply foster one's expertise through genuine scholarly activity, and to teach one's field of studies to students to the best of one's abilities. This responsibility may sometimes also include using the privilege of tenure to ask difficult or big questions through one's research,” says Stowell.
Stowell teaches medieval and early modern art, with a primary focus on Italian art. His current research projects focus on images people believed could work miraculously to answer their prayers. One famous example is the painting of the Annunciation of the Virgin at the church of the Santissima Annunziata in Florence.
“This research has been taking me in many unexpected interdisciplinary directions that I never imagined I would be studying, from music to medicine,” says Stowell.
He adds he looks forward to developing complementary courses that emerge more directly from his research.
“I am very pleased to have the privilege of tenure to explore all of these issues in the depth they deserve.”
See the full list of Concordia’s tenure and/or promotion recipients for 2017-18.