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York's Richard Leblanc wins provincial university teaching award

York's Richard Leblanc wins provincial university teaching award

Administrative studies Professor Richard Leblanc was named one of Ontario’s most outstanding university teachers by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) on Saturday. 

Leblanc teaches governance, law and ethics in the School of Administrative Studies in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, and is an adjunct faculty member at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. An expert on corporate governance, he has made Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 list for vision, leadership and achievement, and has recently been added to the Canadian Who’s Who. This year, he was named among "People to Watch" by the National Association of Corporate Directors in Washington.

Left: Richard Leblanc

At a ceremony in Toronto, he and five others received this year’s OCUFA teaching awards for exceptional contributions in the areas of instruction, course and curriculum development, and student engagement.  

This is Leblanc’s second teaching award. In 1998, students voted to present him with the inaugural Seymour Schulich BBA Award for Teaching Excellence. 

The OCUFA award recognizes teaching in a very broad sense. “It is particularly meaningful for me,” says Leblanc, "because colleagues as well as students nominate you." In this case, letters of support came from faculty colleagues, teaching assistants, deans, librarians, and current and former students. 

Like three other recipients at the awards ceremony, Leblanc acknowledged the influence of a parent. “My father was a high school teacher. You don’t realize how much kitchen conversation has on your career choice and the passion you bring to teaching. My father would talk about teaching, grading, curriculum. I was exposed to all that.”  

But Leblanc also gave his audience four or five pointers on what makes a good teacher from a top-10 list he compiled early in his career. The co-author of Inside the Boardroom says he’s had more response to that list than anything else he’s published.  

Institutional support is one of the requisites of good teaching, Leblanc says. For him, the OCUFA award validates the higher quality of teaching possible in smaller classes. Leblanc teaches large and small classes, and students from his small classes in particular strongly supported his nomination, he observed, because he came to know them in a way he doesn’t know students in large classes.

In her citation, Patti Ryan, political science librarian at York’s Scott Library and a member of OCUFA’s teaching award committee, said Leblanc is “both an exceptional teacher and an extraordinary leader in his field.”  

Those who have experienced the “magic” of Leblanc – students, alumni, colleagues, teaching assistants, administrators, librarians and clients – consistently describe him as engaging, energetic, enthusiastic and exciting, said Ryan. 

Ryan also cited LeBlanc's achievements in course and curriculum development. At York, he has developed or redesigned seven innovative courses in the areas of law, corporate governance and business ethics. He also played a key role in establishing curriculum for a new master’s of financial accountability program, described by one supporter as a “groundbreaking curriculum not currently offered anywhere else in the world."

Outside the classroom, Leblanc has made a powerful impact on the lives of his students and colleagues. They cite his generosity of spirit and dedication to mentorship, said Ryan. Whether he is supporting the work of part-time colleagues, taking time out to meet current and former students, or sharing his expertise with the professional community, LeBlanc consistently exemplifies the spirit of good teaching and lifelong learning. 

“Your pedagogical accomplishments, unwavering commitment to students and to the academic and professional community, and your passion for your work make you a most deserving candidate for this award,” concluded Ryan.

Republished courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin.