Dr. Andrew Dicks has been named the winner of the 2014 Joan E. Foley Quality of Student Experience Award and we could not be happier for him here at Innis College. Andy has not only had an immense and positive impact on students and student communities in Chemistry, but he has had a special impact on first-year students at Innis College.
When the First-Year Learning Community (FLC) for Life Sciences debuted at Innis College in 2005, Andy was named its faculty advisor, and has been the advisor ever since. His influence is felt in his regular meetings with the FLC group, including the social and academic sessions organized for the FLC and his after-hours advising of FLC students. This influence is both practical and personal. Andy’s warmth and interest in students is palpable and students respond to it with equal enthusiasm. He has become mentor to a great many of the 150-or-so students that have passed through the Innis FLC, a couple of whom who are now Ph.D. students in Chemistry.
Andy is incredibly generous with his time in the FLC, and equally generous in his time with other orientation and transition events at Innis College. He has been a stalwart presence in the annual summer Academic Orientation sessions run by the College for new students. He has also, in the last two years, been a panel member for the fall Orientation event “Lecture 101” – an event where new students are introduced to the do’s and don’ts of university lecture attendance and culture. His positive, engaged manner translates superlatively to this event that – through comedy and a “Q&A” –de-mystifies University lectures and humanizes the student-professor relationship.
On top of all this work with incoming and new students, Andy has also been a featured speaker in the Later Life Community Program, a senior learning group that calls Innis College home. This group is immensely popular and has become an intrinsic part of the College community. They are known for bringing in engaging speakers on a wide variety of topics. Andy was praised by the group in the same way his younger students praise him: for his enthusiasm, clarity, and ability to make complex concepts accessible.
The Foley Award is by no means Andy’s first such honour. Andy has received both the President’s Teaching Award (2009) and the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Assocations (OCUFA) Teaching Award (2012), and has also been honoured with teaching awards from the Arts and Science Students’ Union (2007), the Association of Part-Time Undergraduates (2004) and the Faculty of Arts and Science (2003). He has also been featured “in the spotlight” by The Varsity student newspaper.
The Foley Award not only recognizes Andy’s boundless energy in helping new students make the transition to university learning here at Innis, but also recognizes steps he has taken to enhance the experience of students in the Department of Chemistry. He created a “Chemistry Course Community” where new students meet with upper-year mentors to discuss the challenging curriculum as well as skills-development (like report writing) and career options.
Andy has been an astounding, positive, creative presence for students of all ages and in all stages of their academic life, and especially so at Innis College. Congratulations Andy!