By Shannon Boklaschuk
Two faculty members in the College of Arts and Science have been bestowed with the title of “Distinguished Professor,” effective Jan. 1, 2021.
Dr. Lisa Vargo (PhD), a faculty member in the Department of English and the Department of Art and Art History, and Dr. James B. (Jim) Waldram (PhD), a faculty member in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, were informed of the honour in December by the University of Saskatchewan (USask) Distinguished Professorship Advisory Committee. The committee recently met to review the nominations received in response to the call for nominations in 2020.
The title of “Distinguished Professor” honours and celebrates exceptional achievement in research, scholarly, or artistic work by USask faculty or emeriti. The honorary title is a lifetime award that becomes Distinguished Professor Emeritus upon retirement.
Vargo, who is currently serving as the acting head of the Department of Art and Art History, teaches and researches 18th- and 19th-century literature, bibliography, and textual editing. She is particularly interested in women writers, especially Mary Shelley and Anna Barbauld, and is associate editor (North America) for the journal Women's Writing. She spent many years as a tutor and volunteer in adult literacy work and on the board of the Word on the Street (Saskatoon) festival.
In 2018, Vargo was awarded the prestigious Distinguished Scholar Award by the Keats-Shelley Association of America. The award recognizes career-long excellence in scholarship devoted to the writers of the period and the culture in which they lived. Vargo is also known for her involvement in the Project in International Collaborative Teaching (PICT), which has developed into a cross-cultural teaching and learning model that offers an accessible form of internationalization to students, instructors, and researchers.
In a letter to Vargo, the USask Distinguished Professorship Advisory Committee noted her many research accomplishments during the past 30 years.
“Your work and knowledge in the field of romantic literary studies and textual editing, especially in English literature by female writers of the late 1700s and early 1800s, have earned you an international reputation as a distinguished scholar in the field of romantic literary studies,” the letter stated. “In addition to having an excellent and sustained research career, the committee would like to also acknowledge your administrative contributions to the University of Saskatchewan as well as your community outreach work.”
Waldram, a medical and applied anthropologist with extensive research experience and advocacy in Canadian and Belizian Indigenous communities, was recruited to USask in 1983 into the new Department of Native Studies (now the Department of Indigenous Studies). He is known as an international authority in the study of Indigenous mental health issues and the cultural bases of treatment and healing in various contexts. His work has included ground-breaking ethnographic studies of therapeutic programs for criminal offenders, as well as of Indigenous health and mental health policies, both within Canada and around the world.
In 2013, Waldram won the university’s Distinguished Researcher Award and, in 2014, he was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, one of the country’s highest academic honours. In 2016, he was celebrated in Ottawa by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) as one of five national recipients of SSHRC Impact awards. In 2018, at an event at the Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre on the USask campus, Waldram read a statement on reconciliation on behalf of the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology. The creation of the statement was prompted by the department’s 50th anniversary in 2018, which “provided a great opportunity to launch the new era of our work as engaged scholars,” he said.
In a letter to Waldram, the USask Distinguished Professorship Advisory Committee acknowledged his many research accomplishments.
“Your scholarship is of the highest calibre, and you have contributed significantly to the enhancement of knowledge in the fields of medical anthropology and Indigenous studies,” the letter stated. “Your many publications and citations in highly regarded venues are testament to your excellence. The committee was also extremely impressed by your outstanding contributions to the University of Saskatchewan.”