Diana Austin   2008 University Teaching Scholar Recipient

One of the Arts Faculty’s most respected teachers, Dr. Diana Austin has won both the Arts Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching (in1992) and the Allan P. Stuart Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching (in 2000).  Her reputation as a fair, patient, and energetic, but also demanding teacher attracts students to her classes and, as the student evaluations indicate, their expectations are more than fulfilled.

The students’ high opinion of Dr. Austin’s teaching has resulted in her appearance five times among the “Popular Profs at UNB” in Maclean’s Magazine’s annual report on university rankings, and some years ago, it was even gave rise to the suggestion that the new Moncton Library be named after her in recognition of the love of reading which she inspires in her students.  Indeed, Dr. Austin has a loyal following of students who are eager to take additional classes with her after they have come to appreciate her teaching in ENGL 1000.

Within the English Department, Dr. Austin is involved in all levels of teaching.  She regularly teaches large 1st-year courses with over 100 students per section, as well as ENGL 1000, the Department’s core course for English Majors and Honours students.  She is also active in a wide range of upper-level undergraduate and graduate teaching, especially on topics in 20th-century British literature, and she has supervised numerous graduate theses and was the departmental reader for dozens of others.

Her involvement in graduate teaching, however, goes well beyond seminars and thesis supervision: she also teaches graduate students how to be successful teachers themselves.  For many years, Diana has had a reputation for directing and supervising her TA’s very closely, to the benefit of all parties involved—the TAs themselves, the 1st-year students entrusted to them in their tutorials, and the Department as a whole.  Currently, she is piloting a new initiative in teaching graduate students how to teach, as the English Department moves toward a graduate “Teaching Apprenticeship”.  Second-year PhD students will be assigned to co-teach ENGL 1000 with an experienced faculty member who provides close mentoring as the PhD student gradually moves from observing the class in the first term to being the primary instructor in the second term.  Once it is fully implemented, the Teaching Apprenticeship will allow the English Department to make a virtue of necessity, freeing up several faculty members for an additional 3ch course each, while also training future colleagues.

Dr. Austin’s dedication to teaching has also led to her energetic commitment to making UNB accessible to all qualified students regardless of their physical condition.  In the last few years, she has been at the forefront of efforts to improve the accessibility of university buildings, especially Carleton Hall.  Partly as a result of her advocacy, an elevator is now being installed.

Dr. Austin is also engaged in numerous other teaching-related activities outside the classroom.  Over the years, she has served as departmental advisor for the Majors programme and for the 1st- and 2nd-year programme, and she is the Co-ordinator of the multi-section core course ENGL 1000, a position which often entails mentoring part-time lecturers and new faculty members in the art of teaching.  As a member of the departmental curriculum committee, she has been heavily involved in numerous curriculum reviews.  In addition, Dr. Austin served as Associate Dean of Arts in the mid-1990s, extending her committed involvement in student affairs and curriculum matters from the Department to the Faculty as a whole.

Her expertise as a teacher is valued outside the day-to-day operation of the Arts Faculty and the English Department.   Colleagues from across the Fredericton campus have heard of Diana’s teaching strategies and, grateful to her for sharing her expertise, have reported on the successful implementation of her techniques in their own courses; and former students – now teachers themselves – also use these strategies in their high school classes.

Her participation as a presenter is frequently invited by organizers of teaching workshops (both within the University and in the larger community), and she is regularly consulted by textbook publishers, who seek her advice both on manuscripts and on already published works.

A student of teaching, a teacher, and a teacher of teachers, it is obvious to all who know her, Dr. Diana Austin is a University Teaching Scholar.

James Murray

Dean of the Faculty of Arts