November 1, 2017 - 10:00am
Distinction bestowed on scholars who have made exceptional contributions to their field
Vancouver Island University (VIU) History Professor Dr. Cheryl Krasnick Warsh has been elected as the University’s first Fellow in the Academy of Arts and Humanities of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC).
“I was absolutely thrilled and delighted. This is capping off a very long career,” said Warsh.
Warsh was recognized for her groundbreaking work in Canadian healthcare history, and for giving a voice to vulnerable populations in the 19th century, including people with mental health issues, addictions and children. She was also recognized for shaping a flourishing research field in her area of study, as editor of the Canadian Bulletin of Medical History.
“Dr. Warsh has developed an illustrious career as an historian and researcher of international note,” said Dr. David Witty, VIU’s Provost and Vice-President Academic. “Her work crosses a breadth of health-related research topics that together contribute to important discussions that have too long been by-passed by many other researchers.”
The distinction of Fellows is bestowed on scholars who have made exceptional contributions in their field and election to the RSC is considered the highest academic honour a scholar can receive in the arts, humanities and sciences. Warsh joins more than 2,000 other Canadians who have received this recognition.
Warsh said she is honoured to be in the same society as two of her personal heroes, Sir William Osler, often referred to as one of the greatest physicians of his day, and Rosalie Abella, presently on the Supreme Court of Canada.
Her research focuses on the everyday lives of people. While pursuing her master’s degree at Western University, Warsh delved into the lives of patients at the London Psychiatric Hospital on Highbury Avenue, also known as the London Asylum.
“I wanted to go beyond the images, promotional literature and the glossy veneer and see what was going on in the lives of average Canadians,” said Warsh. “Everything we know about patients is through the eyes of authority figures, doctors and police.”
Warsh said her research explores universal stresses and issues, and it is fascinating that many of the past issues are similar to those faced by people today.
She learned early on to follow her passions. She advises people just starting out in their careers to do the same.
“Pick something you really love. If you are going to be doing it for a long time, it needs to be a passion,” she said. “It is really important to separate yourself from your work and learn from other people. Learn to take criticism, keep your ego in check. It’s not about ego. It’s about getting your point across.”
Warsh will be inducted as a Fellow during the RSC’s Celebration of Excellence, held Friday, November 27 at the Fairmont Winnipeg Hotel in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
In 2014, Susan Juby was the first VIU faculty member to be inducted into RSC’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists.
Rachel Stern, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University