President Andrew Petter, Dr. Jeff Derksen, Dr. Jie Liang and Dr. Mary-Ellen Kelm, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies


Faculty Profile: Dr. Jeff Derksen, English

February 03, 2015

We're delighted to profile the winners of the 2014 Dean's Awards for Excellence in Graduate Studies. Dr. Jeff Derksen received an award for Excellence in Leadership.

There was no shortage of volunteers from SFU's Department of English to sign Dr. Jeff Derksen’s nomination for Excellence in Graduate Leadership for his service as the Graduate Program Chair from 2012–2015. 

Dr. Jon Smith, the Chair of English, says, " Dr. Derksen's tenure as graduate director has been marked by extreme diligence and and by extremely innovative ways of both finding funding for graduate students and for enhancing their vitae and skill sets.” 

Dr. Derksen obtained funding to create research assistant positions for the department's Line magazine (formerly West Coast Line) so that graduate students could serve not simply as editorial assistants but as actual editors —a skill that will serve them well after graduation, whether as faculty members or as industry professionals. 

One of his student nominators said, "This is an amazing experience and I am able to take concepts from my academic work and seek out writers and artists who are in conversation with these ideas. I am also learning how to run a journal, and have gotten hands-on experience with brainstorming journal issues, editing, production and design, grant writing, distribution, and even hosting a launch event. Importantly, working on Line feels collaborative, the very opposite of an ‘internship' that characterizes most graduate positions with literary journals."

Another student adds, "Jeff has pursued funding for students at all points in their program to ensure that they have the material resources to not only complete their degree requirements, but in the process discover the points where they can make an intervention in the field and the world. I have, on multiple occasions, been encouraged by Jeff to simultaneously ground myself in my field and 'chase my enthusiasms' (his words) in order to recognize through this combination that a critical passion might inform my work.”

All of his work on behalf of graduate students has been alongside a stellar academic track record: He was a co-applicant for a SSHRC Insight Grant of $196k supporting a project on "Networked art history: Assembling contemporary Canadian art, 1960s to the present” and was an Artist in Residence, Leuphana Arts Program and Kunstraum Lüneburg,  Germany, from August 2012–July 2013. He has also been remarkably active in a number of invited lectures and talks around the world, and continues to demonstrate how academics can engage with and challenge the community. 

Tags: Achievements; profiles; English, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

The 2015 Dean of Graduate Studies Awards for Excellence are open for nominations. Deadline for nominations is March 15 yearly.

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