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DesRoches and Wills recognized with 2021 Arts awards

L to R: Dr. Davina DesRoches, Dr. Jenny Heijun Wills

The Faculty of Arts is pleased to announce the 2021 recipients of the annual Excellence in Scholarly/Creative Activity and Excellence in Teaching awards.

Excellence in Scholarly/Creative Activity:  Dr. Jenny Heijun Wills, English

Dr. Jenny Heijun Wills was nominated by Dr. Jane Barter, Department of Religion and Culture, for her memoir, Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related (McClelland & Stewart, 2019). Winner of the 2019 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Non-Fiction and of the 2020 Eileen McTavish Sykes First Book Award (Manitoba Book Award); chosen one of the Globe and Mail’s Best Books of 2019, one CBC’s Best Books of 2019, and one of Winnipeg Free Press’ top ten Manitoba books of the decade, Older Sister is a “powerful account of transnational adoption,” as Dr. Angela Failler wrote in her letter of support, telling of the author’s return to South Korea in order to reunite with her birth family, having been raised by a white family in Canada. 

Dr. Wills’ memoir has garnered nothing but rave reviews. “Haunting and beautiful” is how it is most often described. It is also poignant, moving, heartbreaking, hopeful, and written in a vibrant, seemingly effortless prose that always carries the reader forward.

As Dr. Barter said in her nominating letter, “Older Sister builds not only on the life experience of Dr. Wills as a Korean-Canadian adoptee but also upon her critical scholarship that has been at least fifteen years in the making.” “Indeed,” said Glenn Moulaison, Dean of Arts, “Older Sister finds itself at the intersection of the creative and the scholarly realms, and illustrates the reality that for many who work in the humanities, both the creative and the scholarly draw from the same well — the depth and richness of human experience in all its specificity. We all look forward to Dr. Wills’ next project.”

Excellence in Teaching: Dr. Davina DesRoches, Sociology 

Dr. Davina DesRoches, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, has been awarded the 2021 Faculty of Arts Excellence in Teaching Award. As was evidenced in her nomination, Dr. DesRoches has taught the breadth of modern sociology from first-year introductory courses through honours seminars on cultural and urban sociology. Dr. DesRoches practices a learner-centred pedagogy which allows students to draw on their lived experiences and innovative sociological literature to develop a keen ‘quality of mind within and beyond the classroom.’

Dr. DesRoches’ nominees noted her dedication to her students and unique gift for mentorship. Especially noteworthy is how generous she is with her time in forging healthy and open lines of communication with all her students. Moreover, she is a supportive and committed colleague helping in the formulation of departmental policy and student supports. One nominee remarked how Dr. DesRoches’ teaching “involves a deep understanding of liberal arts education as providing students with the skills to better their world.” Dr. Paul Lawrie, past Associate Dean of Arts, noted “Dr. DesRoches’ innovative and rigorous pedagogy puts students first and empowers them to succeed in civic and academic life. Congratulations to Dr. DesRoches and all the nominees for their work and commitment to our students.”

Thanks to the members of the selection committees and to those who wrote in support of the award recipients. Congratulations to all who were nominated.

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