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Gosha Zywno Awarded 2002 3M Fellowship

Gosha Zywno
Gosha Zywno
One hundred and seventy Canadian university educators, representing 39 different universities, have been recognized by the 3M Fellowship award since its inception since 1986. Gosha Zywno is one of ten recipients to be awarded this Fellowship in 2002.

The Fellowship includes teachers of veterinary medicine, engineering, business, humanities, agriculture, the social sciences, medicine, the sciences, nursing, education, law and dentistry. The award is given to individuals who not only excel in the teaching of their own courses but also demonstrate an exceptionally high degree of leadership and commitment to the improvement of university teaching across disciplines.

In his support for Gosha's nomination, the VP Academic at Ryerson writes: "Rarely have I encountered a faculty member who engenders such respect for her single minded determination to provide the best possible learning experience for students". Simply stated, Gosha has been a driving force behind the pursuit for educational excellence at Ryerson. This description captures the passion, energy and expertise Gosha brings to both her classroom teaching and educational research activities.

Currently, she visits high schools to talk about the engineering profession and mentors female high school students to consider non-traditional careers. For her contributions to the community, Gosha was honoured with a "New Pioneer Award" in 1996. Gosha's work on the efficacy of hypermedia in learning, technology integration and learning styles attests to her student centered approach in creating effective learning environments. It is also extraordinary that Gosha has earned international recognition for her leadership in educational research. For the third time, her paper was recognized at the UNESCO International Centre for Engineering Education.

Gosha remains extremely active in the Faculty development and regularly contributes her expertise and pedagogical insights at numerous seminars and workshops at Ryerson. She has also been invited to lead seminars and as keynote speaker at several institutions across Canada and Europe.

On June 26, 2002, a reception took place at President's Residence, to celebrate the awarding of a 2002 3M Teaching Fellowship to Professor Gosha Zywno, from Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Gosha Zywno's speech:

Dear Dr. Lajeunesse and guests,

Ever since the 3M award announcement it has been a wild ride for me, and I am a bit overwhelmed by all the attention. I am very honoured and very proud to the first one to put Ryerson on the 3M Fellowships map.

I would like to express my sincere thanks to Dr. Claude Lajeunesse and his wife Nicole for having us all here, and for their gracious hospitality. And I would like to thank Dr. Aspevig and Dr. Dewson for their support of my 3M nomination, and the fantastic letter to the 3M Committee. Over the last several years, Dr. Dewson has been extremely supportive and encouraging of my work and in particular of my PhD pursuits at Glasgow Caledonian University, and he deserves a lot of credit for my being here today.

It has been extremely gratifying on a personal level to receive this recognition of teaching excellence, because teaching, or I should rather say, enabling learning, has been my passion ever since I was fortunate to join Ryerson 20 years ago. I have had some small part in helping hundreds of wonderful young people develop their potential. My life has been so enriched by having met them and having had opportunities to get to know many of them as individuals, and being not just a professional mentor but also offering guidance, help and support in other areas of their lives. I feel honoured that so many of them choose to stay in touch with me and to share their professional and personal successes with me. University is more than just lectures, it's a formative experience for young people, and we are so lucky in our profession to have this great opportunity to guide them in this exhilarating process of not just gaining knowledge, but also growing to become mature, thoughtful individuals. In my mind seeing our students as such, and respecting them, is what being an educator is about.

It certainly is not about just the content. Since I have been trying to integrate technology into my teaching, I have been often asked what this new wonderful digital world means for our profession. Some of us seem to be genuinely worried about being replaced by some unfeeling, computerized tutoring system, and certainly if Bill Gates gets to have his say on that matter, that my very well be the case, and what a sad world would that be. My answer to those concerns has always been that if you see yourself as not just a content provider, but as an enabler of learning, encouraging students to take active responsibility for that journey of discovery, providing a role model and inspiration for them, their future, as well as yours, is in safe hands.

In the world that is changing so rapidly, where the half-life of an engineering degree is quoted to be only two years, we cannot possibly hope to give our students all the knowledge they will need. What we can hope for is that we'll equip them with skills to become active, life-long learners, that we impart on them the importance of critical thought, problem-solving, collaboration, communication, professional ethics, appreciation of different points of views, and seeing the diversity of our backgrounds be it different cultures, or being women, as an asset to our engineering profession, rather than a liability.

I am very honoured by the 3M Fellowship recognition, but I would like to emphasize that such achievements do not happen in a vacuum, that nobody works alone, and that credit for this goes to many wonderful individuals. The reason I am here today, is because I found my home at Ryerson, with its mission statement that matched my personal beliefs in providing our students with the best possible undergraduate, and now graduate, education. I found a community of people who care about education, and who have helped me so much on my way. And I would be completely remiss if I didn't mention some of them by name.

First and foremost, my big thanks go to Dr. Diane Kennedy, my colleague and good friend, and to Dr. Derek Northwood, our departing Dean. Without Diane's and Derek's support and encouragement I know I would not be able to accomplish most of the things that I was cited for in the 3M Fellowship. I remain in their debt, and I would like to take a few moments to speak at length about both of them.

In Diane I found an ideal colleague and collaborator, someone who shares my vision of what education is about, and who always enthusiastically offered her help, bashed out ideas with me, worked tirelessly on implementing them in our course, and for two years has put up with impositions on her own teaching, caused by my embarking on classroom-based action research for which I get recognition these days. Despite her own busy schedule, including her NSERC-awarded research, a multitude of committees, and having graduate students, Diane has enthusiastically embraced my ideas of using technology to enable our students learn better, even when it increased her own workload, because she shares my values that students should be our primary concern. In this she is a perfect example that scholarly excellence can embrace both high quality research and a passion for teaching.

We have a similar, self-deprecating approach to our classroom presence. Diane is fond of mentioning, in jest of course, that during our lectures in adjacent classrooms we get synchronized outbursts of laughter, at our jokes or attempts to animate control system concepts through a personalized hand-waving performance. She has always been very generous with praise and encouragement, and with help. I remember back in 1998 when my first paper on educational issues, that I co-wrote with Diane, got accepted to the American Control Conference. I was racking my brain how to stretch the $500 support I received from Dr. Rheta Rosen from the Learning and Teaching Office, to allow me to attend the conference. I had visions of a long, long drive to Philadelphia and sleeping in a hostel, when Diane took control of the issue and flew me to Philly on her air-mile points and volunteered to share her room with me. We ended up doing our dog-and-pony show at the conference that netted us the best presentation in the session award… I was very happy for Diane when I found out that she would be spending her leave of absence next year as a Research Director at a biotech company. I am looking forward to her return to Ryerson, and I wish her all the best in her pursuits.

I have also been extremely fortunate that my pedagogical ideas about integrating technology into my classes, and my research interests started crystallizing during Dr. Derek Northwood's tenure as Dean of Engineering and Applied Science at Ryerson. Early on, Derek took personal interest in my work, and offered his guidance and encouragement often at times when I was frustrated and ready to stall. In 1998, I wanted to start teaching with technology, and had all these ideas but no computer or software to do development work. I had to keep inconveniencing the good people at the DMP office regarding access to their computer labs, and my grant application has just fallen flat. When I got a call that I was supposed to show up at Derek's office, I started doing a mental check of what possibly I did wrong to be called in onto the carpet. To my huge surprise, Derek started talking to me about my work, my ideas, plans, and before I new it, I had the equipment I needed… Derek has always been extremely supportive and encouraging of members of his faculty and of the students as well, and my personal experiences only confirm that. Derek has also been very supportive and encouraging of activities of Women in Engineering at Ryerson, which are very dear to my heart.

Since then, Derek involved me in the activities of the Ryerson Centre for Engineering Education, and personally encouraged me to consider embarking on my PhD journey. When I was accepted into the research degree program at Glasgow Caledonian University, he also agreed to become one of my thesis supervisors. I could always approach him with any problems or ideas I had, and I always received his thoughtful advice. Derek will stay on as my supervisor during his post-administrative leave, and I hope that with his guidance I will be able to successfully defend my dissertation sometime in the spring or summer of 2003. Over the years, we have also become collaborators on some of the RCEE projects, and co-authors, and I am proud to call Derek my colleague and friend.

I would also like to express my thanks to my research collaborators and co-authors of papers: to Bill White, Bill Brimley, Judy Waalen, Kim Gilbride, Peter Hiscocks, and again Diane and Derek. I also want to thank many wonderful people at the Digital Projects Office, particularly to Wendy Freeman, who unfortunately could not be here tonight. Wendy has helped me enormously in developing my ideas, and I am looking forward to working with her next year on the Learning Objects project.

I would like to thank people from the Learning and Teaching Office for providing a forum for exchanging ideas and supporting a community of like-minded people at Ryerson who care about learning and teaching, and to thank all those faculty members who participate. In particular, I would like to thank the LTO's past Director, Dr. Rheta Rosen, for her active interest and support of my activities, and to Professors Bill Glassman and Hitesh Doshi for appreciation and encouragement, and a shared vision of educational priorities.

I would be remiss if I did not mention in my thanks my family at Women In Engineering projects at Ryerson, who have been such an important part of my life for the past 12 years. I want to thank Peter Hiscocks, Frankie Stewart, Judy Dimitriu, Lisa Anderson, Kim Gilbride, and Vera Straka, for their friendship and tireless work towards goals that we all feel passionately about.

My thanks also go to all my colleagues in the department, and to our chair, Juri Silmberg, with whom I share experiences from our more than 10 years of work at the PEO's Academic Requirements Committee.

I would like to say that I have received much support not only from the community within Ryerson, but also from my peers from other universities in Canada and abroad that I have had the pleasure to work with, and exchange ideas and experiences, over the past several years. The support so many at Ryerson, as well as elsewhere is perhaps indicative of an increasing importance of the scholarship of teaching, the use of new technologies to enhance learning and the educational research, to educators and university administrators alike, both in Canada and abroad. The community of 3M Fellows counts approximately 170 people from different academic paths, who feel passionate about the future of education, and are ready to take on an active role to provide leadership in this area, and I hope I will be able to contribute to that.

In closing, I hope will be able to continue working in the field of educational research, as well pursue my interests in professional development of faculty, and I hope to share with my peers in the community at Ryerson whatever little expertise I gained. This award, being the first one for our University, hopefully will open the floodgates and I will try to help in future successes of my colleagues. This Fellowship belongs to Ryerson, and to all of you who helped me to get here.

Thank you all!

The original announcement was adapted from a 3M press release.
Last modified: Tuesday, 14-Jul-2015 18:07:09 EDT