2016 Torch Night Ceremony


Shawn Jasinski, the 2016 Torch Night Professor

The students have spoken! Shawn Jasinski from the WCI program has been selected to be the 2016 Torch Night Professor. Those of us who have the privilege of calling Shawn our colleague are not surprised in the least. What is the Torch Night Professor?

The Torch Night Ceremony takes place in the spring semester. It is a ceremony for graduating seniors to reflect upon their journey through college, a tradition that has taken place since 1930. The honor of being the Torch Night Professor stems from the fact that it comes from the students directly. It is bestowed upon a faculty member who has had a significant impact, both academically and personally, on students at the University at Albany. This year, that honor goes to WCI's own Shawn Jasinski. It is an honor well deserved.

We got the chance to ask Shawn a few questions about what it means to be the Torch Night Professor. Here is a transcript of those questions and answers.

1) Question: What does it mean for you that graduating seniors have chosen you to be the Torch Night Professor?

Shawn: It’s awesome. I think being recognized like this would be amazing under any circumstances, but I feel especially honored because it’s only my third year here, so I was nominated by a graduating senior during the first year that I really had any students that were graduating seniors.

2) Question: What can an incoming student expect when taking a WCI class that is taught by Shawn Jasinski?

Shawn: Sarcasm. And hearing their professor say “I love you” more frequently than they might expect. From what I’ve been told, my reputation with the students is that I’m funny, but a really tough grader. I can live with that dichotomy.

 3) Question: What does this recognition say about the impact of the WCI program?

Shawn: I think the nature of the award being based on student recognition really says a lot about the important role WCI faculty is playing in both the academic and personal lives of our students. We are uniquely privileged to get to know our students in away that is impossible in a lecture hall. In fact, I frequently hear that even as juniors and seniors my students haven’t developed many other close relationships with faculty, even with professors in their actual major, and I wouldn’t be surprised if WCI faculty members consistently find themselves among the nominees for this award in the future because of it.

4) Question: What are you currently watching (television, Netflix, Amazon, YouTube)?      

Shawn: I just finished bingeing Mozart in the Jungle on Amazon. Loved it.

5) Question: What are you currently reading?  

Shawn: Do audio books count? I ripped through Brandon Sanderson’s Reckoners trilogy over the past few weeks. Yes, I have a weakness for Sci-Fi/Fantasy. The last book I actually read was Michael Cunningham’s A Wild Swan, which was absolutely beautiful.

6) Question: What are you currently writing?

Shawn: I’ve been working on an article about the relationship between processing trauma and the “violence of false language” in Lynne Sharon Schwartz’s The Writing on the Wall for what seems like an eternity.

Join us on the Academic Podium at 8:30pm on May 14th to celebrate this great achievement. Congratulations, Shawn! We are so proud of you.