English and Creative Writing professor Katherine Quinsey’s decades of commitment have earned her the Educational Leadership Award, according to the Office of the Provost and the Centre for Teaching and Learning.
When Dr. Quinsey, who just retired, first started teaching, she knew it was what she wanted to do for a living. She was 25, had just finished her PhD, and got her first teaching job at the University of Ottawa.
“I felt at home, I felt this is my vocation. This is really what I was meant to be doing,” she said.
She said she loved working with students, learning alongside them, and her predominant view of teaching is the original meaning of the word education: to lead out.
“It's really about leading people out beyond the limitations of themselves and their own preconceptions, to realize the world is just so much bigger, so much more complicated, and so much more exciting and interesting than they could ever have imagined,” Quinsey said. “I think it's absolutely essential, not only for my own and the student’s well-being, but for the well-being of the world today. People are often locked inside their own subjective worldview.”
Her love of teaching grew to extend beyond the classroom and into curricular and program development. Shortly after receiving tenure at the University of Windsor, she had to step unexpectedly into the role of department head.
During her time as head, she drafted a departmental five-year plan, including a new focus on experiential learning, and the department completely revised its undergraduate curriculum.
This experience would later serve her well when she agreed to be dean in the Faculty of Education in 2016. According to her nomination package, she worked hard to bring the faculty together, working with them to create a number of concurrent education programs, including a unique five-year concurrent B.Mus/B.Ed. program.
Among her other accomplishments throughout her career, she assisted in the creation of a cross-disciplinary organizational learning stream for the Faculty of Education in her capacity as acting assistant provost, helped to develop the operational research stream in engineering, and promoted the digital journalism and forensics programs.
As dean of education, she also prioritized Indigenous-centred teacher education, working with the Aboriginal Education Council and others to begin to develop a community-based four-year Honours Bachelor of Education specifically for and by Indigenous peoples. This proposal was later superseded by various other government programs, some of which adopted a similar model.
The selection committee noted her strong record of career-long investment in education and willingness to step forward and take responsibility for both formal and informal roles in multiple faculties and departments.
“She has done immense work to promote, sustain, and support students and colleagues across the University of Windsor and beyond,” her nomination letter reads. “Throughout her career, she has thrown herself equally into her teaching and into the betterment of the university experience for all.”
Quinsey said she feels overwhelmed by the positive attestations and by winning the award.
“I feel this award properly belongs to all the people who've had good ideas and brought them forward,” she said “All I’ve done is act as the midwife and help bring them into the world. It absolutely is a team effort.”
The Educational Leadership Award honours the contributions of individuals who have led significant and sustained initiatives to improve teaching, curriculum, teaching spaces and resources, and policies and procedures that promote effective teaching. Quinsey will also receive a grant of $5,000 to support ongoing educational leadership activities.
Quinsey, along with other UWindsor professors, will be honoured March 1 at the 17th annual Celebration of Teaching Excellence.