March 13, 2018
Three out of the five 2018 Awards of Excellence for faculty have been awarded to Political Scientists. Professors Aisha Ahmad, Neil Nevitte and Robert Vipond are all recipients of the prestigious University of Toronto’s annual awards presented to outstanding faculty, staff and students who exemplify a commitment to high achievements and to enhancing the University experience for their peers. Congratulations to all!
Aisha Ahmad, a professor in the Department of Political Science at U of T Scarborough, wins the Northrop Frye Award, given to faculty members whose curriculum innovations enhance the student experience. She is an award-winning scholar of political Islam and international security, and she is deeply committed to helping students become engaged international citizens. Ahmad organizes extra-curricular learning opportunities ranging from lunches connecting students with mentors to events helping students grapple with rising anti-Muslim rhetoric, such as a debriefing session after the 2016 American election. Students love her methods for teaching how to read and analyze scientific research, and the engaging classroom exercises she uses to bring political theory to life.
A professor of comparative politics, Neil Nevitte is an expert in democracy and a top international advisor on effective election observation. Nevitte has served as an observer in more than 50 elections in more than 25 countries. Some countries tried to show observers sham polls with actors casting fake ballots. To detect such frauds, he created a quick yet effective method of comparing on-the-ground voting to final results that is now an international standard. Despite the risks—his overseas offices have been raided and targeted with rockets—Nevitte has expanded his work, developing ways to measure human rights dimensions of the electoral process, such as whether minority groups are actually able to cast ballots.
This year, the Goel Award honours Robert Vipond for distinguished University leadership in multiple capacities. An outstanding chair of the Department of Political Science, Vipond built a magnetic, collegiate culture and quadrupled student enrolment. He grew the Centre for the Study of the United States into a vibrant academic unit with expanded course offerings and events. He has championed interdisciplinary studies, from the Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies to the Centre for Ethics. He led the development of two signature graduate degrees at the Munk School of Global Affairs. Raising nearly $7 million, Vipond helped the University attract top scholars in areas from geophysics to Asia-Pacific studies. One of his most significant legacies is the creation of a radical first-year course he developed for Victoria College in 1987 that formed the basis for the highly successful One program, now used in colleges and faculties across the University.
For more on the awards and a full list of recipients visit the U of T website.
Photo: Aisha Ahmad