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UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 10 | June 14, 2001

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 year.

"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," Sinel says.

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 and performance.

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."


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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