The 2022-2023 Western Awards for Excellence in Teaching have been announced, honouring seven faculty members and a collaborative course development team who redesigned a climate change action course for the department of geography and environment.
The recipients, selected by the Senate Committee on University Teaching Awards, are being recognized for their “outstanding contributions to the academic development of students.”
The following summaries are drawn from nominations from across the university community.
EDWARD G. PLEVA AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING
The University Award for Excellence in Teaching was named in honour of Edward Gustav Pleva, Western’s first geography teacher (1938) and head of the department (1948 to 1968).
Nicole Campbell, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, department of physiology and pharmacology
Described by her colleagues as “one of the most recognized and lauded” educators within their faculty, Prof. Nicole Campbell is also renowned as an academic leader at the national level.
Campbell serves as the director of the undergraduate and graduate interdisciplinary medical science programs, both of which she’s overhauled considerably during her tenure. She also led the creation of the new MSc in Interdisciplinary Medical Sciences.
An established “ally for learners”, her ground-breaking work on ‘uncovering the hidden curriculum’ focuses on identifying critical skills not formally taught and embedding them into curriculum design. Known as a “passionate scholar who seeks to elevate those around her,” Campbell’s most recent work shines light on mental health among higher education faculty, administrators and graduate students.
O. Remus Tutunea-Fatan, Faculty of Engineering, department of mechanical and materials engineering
According to Remus Tutunea-Fatan, “the best teachers are those who manage to be gardeners, lamplighters, mountain guides, architects, catalyzers, salesmen, actors, professionals and many other things at the same time.”
Tutunea-Fatan’s nominators have seen his philosophy put into practice in all aspects of his work at Western – from his lectures, to planning and implementing key curriculum changes in the Mechanical and Materials Engineering program, and in the training of graduate students conducting innovative research in composite component manufacturing.
Throughout his tenure at Western, Tutunea-Fatan has positively impacted the lives of thousands of students through his passion for training the next generation of skilled and knowledgeable engineers.
MARILYN ROBINSON AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING
The Award for Excellence in Teaching is presented for outstanding contributions in classroom, laboratory or clinical instruction. The award was later named after physiology professor and educational development office coordinator Marilyn Robinson, who prized the idea of students’ active learning and problem-solving.
Heather Gillis, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Physiotherapy
“Gifted physiotherapist, passionate classroom teacher and a champion of effective and innovative curricular reform,” Heather Gillis is regarded as one of the Faculty of Health Sciences’ leading educators.
Among her accomplishments is her leadership role in renewing the curriculum for the Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) program. When still a newly minted appointee to the faculty, Gillis was tasked with the daunting assignment of reviewing the entire MPT program.
Her colleagues were awestruck at the “ease and effectiveness with which Gillis navigated the curriculum renewal process,” while also guiding new and established colleagues through the recovery from disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Loved by her students,” Prof. Gillis stands as a devoted mentor and passionate educator.
Joanna Langille, Faculty of Law
Joanna Langille is lauded for her “rigorous, relevant and inclusive teaching,” which draws praise from her students for making “complex legal concepts digestible and applicable.” Langille also attracts admiration from her colleagues for her success in applying the Socratic method of teaching, which reflects both mastery of the subject and the trust of students.
A former student writes, “Prof. Langille motivated me to work harder and taught me to be a fierce advocate. At the same time, she encouraged me to be kind and considerate and that hard work and compassion trump all.”
Langille holds a deep commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, and introduced novel curriculum into the Conflict of Laws course to explore the tension between Canadian law and Indigenous legal orders.
Dr. Frank Myslik, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry
Dr. Frank Myslik is “a proven leader in curriculum and educational opportunity development,” making strides throughout his career to improve his department and the entire faculty.
Myslik’s expertise lies in Point-of-Care Ultrasound (POCUS), where he has made “tremendous efforts to make the system more accessible by creating a new fourth-year course, which is now one of the most popular courses.” His work in this area has positioned Western as a premier leader in POCUS education, with the curriculum he developed accredited by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
Myslik also supports students as a research supervisor, clinical mentor and professional mentor. He takes an individualized and understanding approach, modelling “a prime example of excellence in teaching at Western.”
ANGELA ARMITT AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING BY PART-TIME FACULTY
The Award for Excellence in Teaching by Part-time Faculty was later named in honour of Angela Mary Armitt, BA’36, MA’67, LLD ’87, a champion of lifelong learning, and Western’s first dean of the Faculty of Part-Time and Continuing Education.
Nigel Joseph, Faculty of Arts & Humanities, department of English and writing studies
Prof. Nigel Joseph, a long-time lecturer in Western’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities as well as at King’s University College, “represents everything that is best about an education in the arts and humanities,” one nominator writes. His “breadth of knowledge, keen insight, compassion and profound commitment to justice and equity” see him routinely described by his students as “phenomenal”.
Beyond a teaching style which “reflects a deep commitment to lifelong learning, acquired over an intellectual journey spanning decades and continents,” Joseph’s colleagues also note his commendable citizenship, willingness to fill unanticipated teaching vacancies and readiness to serve on departmental and university committees.
Joseph has taken a pioneering role in decolonizing pedagogy and further revamping the curriculum to inculcate an inclusive and international perspective.
THE VICE-PROVOST (ACADEMIC PROGRAMS) AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN ONLINE AND BLENDED TEACHING
Designed to recognize and reward the efforts of instructors who have demonstrated outstanding online teaching through exemplary online course design.
Elaine Fournier, Faculty of Education
Prof. Elaine Fournier is being recognized for developing and delivering the online course, Laboratory of Practice for Students with Exceptionalities, taken in year two of the Master of Professional Education program.
Fournier models principles of Universal Design For Learning (UDL) across course design and delivery.
Her nominators write, “The three guiding principles of UDL are expertly mapped onto the online environment: multiple means of representation (offering learners various ways of acquiring information and knowledge), engagement (using learners’ interest to challenge and motivate them), and expression (providing learners with alternative ways to demonstrate what they know). These principles create the foundation of Fournier’s course design, which uses both synchronous and asynchronous learning platforms. Strong letters of support from students demonstrate the impact of this course on their learning and what they will share as educators with their learners.”
THE VICE-PROVOST (ACADEMIC PROGRAMS) AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN COLLABORATIVE TEACHING
Established to recognize instructors whose exemplary collaborations in university teaching enhance student learning.
Course Development Team for Geography 2133: Connecting for Climate Change Action
Course creators: Prof. Katrina Moser, department chair, geography and environment; Beth Hundey, curriculum specialist and professor, geography and environment; Sara Mai Chitty, curriculum and pedagogy advisor, Office of Indigenous Initiatives; Serena Mendizabal, graduate research collaborator, geography and environment; and course artist Hawlii Pichette.
Contributors from the Centre for Teaching and Learning and Western Technology Services/ITRC: Aamir Aman, Gelila Ayele, Minhal Farrukh, Bridget Koza, Kosuke Maeda, Joshua Matthew, Jodie Roach, Ramon Sanchez, Joshua Swarath, Luis Velez Rizo and Corey Vercauteren
Climate change is a complex global problem exacerbating social and economic injustices across the planet. Successful solutions require innovative thinking and a dramatic societal shift.
The recipient team recognized this innovation lies in enhancing student learning through a two-eyed seeing approach that braids together Indigenous Knowledge and Euro-western Science. Through a highly collaborative effort, they worked to create a blended undergraduate course, first offered to 150 students across more than 10 faculties in fall 2022.
Prior to this redesign, the course focused on climate literacy and was based solely on Euro-western science. Now, the nominators write, “it embodies meaningful collaboration across campus, with partners ranging from students to multimedia designers, artists, developers and subject matter experts.
“The course has a huge impact on student learning and is a model for embedding Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing for impact that will be felt locally and globally.”