UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 10 | June
Historian recognized with top award from Arts faculty
"Students have been my sustenance," says scholar
by Don Wells staff writer
If you asked History Prof. Allen Sinel's students if his
gradual loss of eyesight has affected his abilities as a teacher,
chances are they would say yes. He's better than ever.
Sinel has received the top award in the university's largest faculty,
the Faculty of Arts. The Dean of Arts Award recognizes Sinel's outstanding
qualities as a teacher, mentor and administrator.
"It's a wonderful capstone to a 37-year career," says Sinel. Currently
the acting head of the History Dept., he will retire later this
"I've truly enjoyed these years, but probably my greatest pleasure
has been running and participating in the History honours program,
particularly the contact with interested students in a small class."
By all accounts, Sinel's students were richly rewarded through
their contact with him. In naming him as this year's recipient,
the selection committee noted that it has never seen so many letters
of support from alumni.
"My students and my student readers have been my sustenance,"
When his eyesight gradually deteriorated, he began listening to
each of his honours students read at least one essay aloud in his
office. He would then respond, taking advantage of an astounding
ability to recall sources or to suggest ways in which students could
make their points more persuasively.
"Some letters indicate that this level of attention initially intimidated
some students," says Arts Dean Alan Tully. "But once they realized
the spirit in which he was offering them the luxury of private tutorial
time, they came to embrace these opportunities."
An effective administrator, Sinel has directed virtually every
program in the History Dept.
The $5,000 Dean of Arts Award, established by an anonymous donor,
recognizes exceptional contributions by Arts faculty in at least
two of the areas of teaching, research, administration, public service
It is presented each year in the name of a living professor emeritus
who has also made a significant contribution to the Faculty of Arts.
This year it is named for History Prof. Emeritus James H. Winter.
"I'm delighted that he is also being honoured," says Sinel. "He
was one of my primary mentors when I first arrived, a wonderful
teacher and always generous with his time and advice."