A Tribute to Judy Brown

Judy Brown was a pillar of the Master of Arts in Children’s Literature Program MACL faculty for almost 14 years. She died on September 1, 2013. Her death is a terrible loss to the MACL program and the University’s children’s literature community. Judy was the Associate Head of the English Department and the department’s representative on the MACL faculty. She served as an Associate Editor at the journal Canadian Literature and was the author and co-author of several books on academic writing.

Judy’s reputation at the University was foremost as an articulate, intellectually stimulating teacher whose inspiration was acknowledged in her awards — the Faculty of Arts Killam Teaching Award, the national 3M Teaching Fellowship and Margaret Fulton Award. She also taught gifted adolescents in the Transition Program of the Vancouver
School Board. She was known, too, as a skilled administrator.

Judy’s passion for mentoring the next generation of scholars in children’s literature was obvious in her supervision of 10 MACL theses and her membership on another eight thesis committees. Three of her thesis students in the MACL Program went on to doctoral programs, and Judy Brown’s mentoring had much to do with their decisions to follow in her footsteps.

Judy’s enduring reputation among students and other faculty as a gifted teacher includes recognition of her gentle kindness. She was loved and will be remembered for her imagination, superb teaching and the complexity, joy and profundity in children’s literature that she communicated so beautifully.

Judy’s thesis students have sent me their thoughts.

Karen Taylor wrote: Although she spoke softly and used encouraging words, her standards were very high. I was always challenged (in a positive way) to meet (and exceed) her standards. I remember the trepidation I felt sending her the first draft of my thesis proposal and each chapter thereafter. They came back with friendly (and not too many) purple marks in Judy’s tiny and precise handwriting. Every “well done” she wrote was such a reward. Then and even now, when I proof and edit my writing, I will always re-review it and ask myself “what would Judy say about what I’ve written here?”

Vikki Van Sickle wrote: During the hurricane of my thesis- the research, writing, editing, sourcing- Judy Brown was the calm eye in the centre of it all. No matter what obstacles I had or tangents I got lost on, Judy got me back on track with her kind, calm manner. She was a fountain of knowledge, but was never one to flaunt it. She listened carefully and considered her students opinions and encouraged the same behaviour in us. She inspired thoughtfulness and I felt calmer just being in her presence.

And finally, Janet Grafton shared: During my years at UBC in the MACL program, which I count as among the most enriching of my life, Judy’s impeccable standards, guidance, and encouragement shaped my experience as a grad student. The advice she gave is some of the best I’ve ever received, and she inspired me to want to write to the best of my ability. Judy is an important and enduring influence in my life, and she has been, and will continue to be, in my thoughts whenever I write or teach. I’m sending her infinite thank-yous for all the care and energy she gave her students over the years. She left the most beautiful impression on my mind, and I am grateful to have known her.

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