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Richard Staniforth

Clifford J. Robson Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence


Richard Staniforth

In 1971, Dr. John Zubeck of the University of Manitoba was instrumental in establishing the Robson Award in memory of Dr. Clifford J. Robson, one of The University of Winnipeg’s finest teachers and a tireless worker on behalf of students. This award commemorates Dr. Robson’s contribution to the teaching of psychology in this province and recognizes a University of Winnipeg faculty member who shares Dr. Robson’s reputation for dedication and love of teaching. Nominations are accepted from the entire University community and the recipient is chosen by a committee made up of faculty, staff, and students.

Author and educator William Arthur Ward once said, "The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires."

In support of her former teacher Richard Staniforth, one student nominator wrote, "I am living proof that Richard Staniforth is a GREAT teacher." That student is now an educator herself, instilled with a passion for teaching by the efforts of her mentor.

Staniforth has been a member of The University of Winnipeg’s Biology department since 1975. Staniforth’s research is centred on plants, as well as the environments in which they grow and adapt over time. "I have always been interested in nature," says Staniforth. "If I can share that with other people, I find that very fulfilling."

Staniforth’s students describe his classes as similarly rewarding—always more than just listening and note taking. "With Dr. Staniforth, we did more than listen to lectures and stories," writes one student who was an avid participant in excursions to wilderness locations, including Sandilands Provincial Forest. "We learned botany by feeling, smelling, and even tasting!"

In addition to making classes fun and interesting, Staniforth was also repeatedly cited for going the extra mile. "Dr. Staniforth is the type of teacher that does not let any student go unnoticed," writes one nominator. "He sees the potential in everyone, and is always willing to lend a helpful hand and sympathetic ear when needed."

Another wrote of his abilities as a mentor. "Dr. Staniforth’s caring, effective mentorship provided me with a solid foundation on which to continue my academic journey," she writes. "He modeled the ideal scientist in terms of his intense curiosity, his approach to new problems, and his contributions to the scientific community." She goes on to cite how his unwavering positive influence gave her the confidence to believe in herself and complete a graduate degree—one of many students who spoke of how Staniforth’s enduring support led to a life-long love of learning, and the pursuit of further academic degrees.

Staniforth says he feels honoured to receive this award. "I can’t imagine a job I could enjoy more than this. I have been so lucky. Receiving this award is the highlight of my career."