Please note that the scheduled closure of EV1 has been cancelled. All CTE workshops will be held in our regular workshop rooms, EV1 241 and 242.

Distinguished Teacher Awards

Since its inception in 1975, over 150 Distinguished Teacher Awards (DTAs) have been awarded to exemplary instructors at the University of Waterloo. The DTA is awarded to four instructors annually at the March meeting of Senate and nominations are due the first Friday of February.

The 2017 recipients of the DTA are:

  • Mónica Barra, Chemistry, Science
  • Sanjeev Bedi, Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, Engineering
  • Dan Davison, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Engineering
  • David McKinnon, Pure Mathematics, Mathematics

Want to know who received a DTA in the past? Visit our list of DTA Citations or DTA Recipients.

Award Criteria

The DTA is open to all those who teach students at the University of Waterloo and is not limited to those holding faculty appointments.

The main criterion of the Distinguished Teacher Award is a record of excellent teaching at Waterloo over an extended period, usually at least five years.

Other criteria include: 

  • evidence of intellectual vigour and communication skills in the interpretation and presentation of subject matter
  • evidence of educational impact beyond the classroom
  • the instructor’s human quality and concern for and sensitivity to the needs of students 
  • a clear indication that the nominee has a favourable and lasting influence on students, and, where relevant, on colleagues

​Evidence of successful innovation in teaching or publications or presentations on teaching and learning may support a nomination, but it is also clear that excellence in teaching does not necessarily require either.

Nomination Process

10 or more nomination letters are required. 

A first nomination must include at least ten separate nomination letters (NOT one letter with ten signatures) to be considered by the selection committee. Of these, at least five should be from present or former students.

Undergraduate and graduate students, alumni, faculty or colleagues may submit Distinguished Teacher Award nominations. A number of signatures can be appended to a single letter with comments, or letters from individual nominators may be submitted. However, it is extremely important that evidence be collected from as many different sources as possible (students, colleagues, alumni, administrative officers, etc.), and that the first nomination must include at least ten separate nomination letters.

Renominations are encouraged.

Each year, the Selection Committee reviews many nominations and a number of excellent candidates must be passed over simply because the awards are limited to four per year. Accordingly, members of the University community are urged to renominate candidates who have not won an award in previous years and who continue to show excellence in teaching performance.

It takes only one nomination letter in the current year to make a whole file of accumulated past support admissible, and new and additional evidence is always desirable. However, renominations submitted by the same person, for the same instructor, are not recommended.

How to Nominate an Instructor

Fill out a nomination form.

A nomination can be made by submitting a completed nomination form by email to cte-dta@uwaterloo.ca no later than 4:30 pm on the first Friday in February.

Write a detailed nomination letter.

In order for a teacher to be considered for the Distinguished Teacher Award, her/his file must include ten or more nomination letters, of these, at least five should be from present or former students. The following is a list of other items that are often included in successful nomination letters. They are presented here as suggestions if these types of resources are available to you. You should also feel free to submit other materials that are not included on this list.

  • The nominee’s teaching approaches, special strengths, and impact on student learning and development
  • A listing of the courses taught by the candidate over the past five years (including correspondence, graduate, and undergraduate courses), information on course enrolments, and the length of time the nominee has been at Waterloo. This information is most easily obtained from the chair of the candidate's department. A detailed curriculum vitae with a complete list of publications, research grants, etc. is not normally of interest to the committee.
  • Samples of excellent or innovative teaching materials, such as course handouts, project descriptions, assignments.
  • Evidence of major contribution to curriculum development.
  • Summaries of course evaluations for the past several years (original course evaluation forms are usually inappropriate because of the volume of material).
  • Evidence of success of former students that can be traced back to the influence of the candidate (e.g. student projects or theses submitted for publication, prizes and honours awarded to students, examples of excellent student work).
  • Letters from colleagues providing they have direct knowledge of the candidate's teaching abilities and achievements.
  • Honours and awards for teaching, for example from student societies or professional organizations.
  • Descriptions of teaching innovations, if possible with evidence of their success in promoting better student learning.
  • Evidence of work with colleagues to promote better teaching (e.g. presenting seminars on teaching, acting as a mentor to new faculty, organizing workshops for teaching assistants).

Want to learn about how to write a strong letter of nomination? Read Effective letters for teaching award nominations.

Seek out additional letters.

If this is the first year a teacher is being nominated for the DTA, a minimum of ten letters must be submitted for the instructor to be considered for the DTA, at least five of which must be from current or former students. Consider asking the instructor's colleagues, current students, and former students to write letters in support of the nomination. For more information, read How are award recipients selected?

Submit the nomination to CTE. 

The nomination form and supporting letters must be sent by email to cte-dta@uwaterloo.ca no later than 4:30 pm on the first Friday in February.

Frequently Asked Questions

Teaching award contacts

Questions? Contact Verna Keller in CTE.

Advice? Contact your DTA Faculty Liaison:

AHS Leeann Ferries
Arts Tim Kenyon
Engineering Gord Stubley
Environment Carol Knipe
Math Brian Forrest
Science Marlee Spafford
Conrad Grebel Birgit Moscinski
St. Jerome's Scott Kline

More resources

Other teaching awards