"Our graduate program’s past, present and future health and success is linked in large part of Mark’s commitment to graduate supervision."

Dr. Jennifer Spear, Associate Professor and Department Chair in the Department of History

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2018 Award for Excellence in Supervision: Mark Leier

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October 15, 2018

Dr. Mark Leier came to SFU in 1994 as an Assistant Professor and has been Professor in the Department of History since 2005. This year he receives the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision because of his exceptional commitment to graduate students, often going well beyond regular supervisory responsibilities.

Since his arrival in the Department of History, Leier has been an asset and has helped shape it into what it is today. “Our graduate program’s past, present and future health and success is linked in large part of Mark’s commitment to graduate supervision,” states Jennifer Spear, Associate Professor and Department Chair.

What sets Leier apart as a supervisor, is his innovative approaches to, and enthusiasm for, motivating his students to success. For example, he is the author of Grad School: An Illustrated Primer, which is based on his manual, Graduate School: Now That You’re Here. In them, he provides humorous and practical advice on how to survive graduate school. Notable topics include paying attention to details in writing (Become a Pedantic Crank), and having a positive attitude (Nobody Likes a Jerk).

Leier also has an impressive record of accomplishment when it comes to mentoring students to completion, guiding students’ work so that they receive prestigious fellowships, awards and employment after graduate school.  

“His CV shows the volume and quality of his supervision, including guiding students to a Governor-General’s Medal, a Dean’s Medal, multiple SSHRC fellowships, and at least four books published by prominent presses,” notes Jeremy Brown, Associate Professor and Graduate Program Chair.

Brown continues, “Mark’s students’ success in winning grants, completing their degrees, getting great jobs, and writing influential books and articles stems in no small part from their following Mark’s comprehensive advice about how to thrive in graduate school.”

Joseph Burton, current PhD student, chose this program because of Leier. “[D]uring my first inquiries into the PhD program at SFU, as an MPhil student at the University of Cambridge, it was clear to me that Professor Leier was committed to the intellectual development of his students. He took an immediate interest in my work, which pertains to the transmission of anarchist thought and practice during mid twentieth century, and offered useful (and comprehensive) advice for developing a sophisticated research proposal.”

Leier’s ability to help guide graduate students to not only complete, but also become top-ranked scholars and educators has had a profound effect on the History department overall.  As Spear, states, “Put simply, our department has become a destination for top young scholars in labour and left History thanks to Mark’s reputation as a supervisor.”