Distinguished Teaching Award Winners for 2018
University of Waterloo faculty and grad students are honoured for excellence in teaching.
University of Waterloo faculty and grad students are honoured for excellence in teaching.By Joey Femia Centre for Teaching Excellence
Four University of Waterloo faculty members have been recognized for excellence in teaching with the University’s most prestigious teaching honour - the Distinguished Teacher Award (DTA).
The DTA consists of a citation along with a $1,500 award to be used by the recipients in support of any teaching activities. The awards will be presented by Mario Coniglio, associate vice-president, academic, at the June convocation ceremony.
The recipients are chosen by a committee of students, faculty, staff and alumni based on nominations from the university community. The 2018 award winners are:
Lecturer, Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre
As the Enterprise Co-op Program Coordinator, Wayne Chang has had an outstanding influence on the students he teaches. One of his undergraduate students commented that “his practical approach and his ideas of process over product allowed for a course that I won’t forget after the exam.” He has supported several students through the Enterprise Co-op Program who have gone on to become CEOs of their own companies. One such student noted that “Wayne's mentorship and guidance does not end when the semester does. He continues to have one of the most genuine interests in his student’s lives that I have ever seen.” Chang has been recognized by his students for human qualities “beyond his wealth of technical know-how and teaching excellence.” One alumnus recounted “countless late nights engaging in valuable discussion” with Chang and acknowledged that he “repeatedly placed his reputation on the line” to guide his students to success. Wayne Chang has had the honour of being recognized for teaching excellence from the Dean of Engineering and received the Outstanding Performance Award in 2014.
Associate Professor, Philosophy
Associate Professor of Philosophy Shannon Dea has been called a “champion of the Women Studies program.” One of her graduate students noted, “I definitely feel like I’ve learned and still learn a lot from Prof Dea. Nearly every day I’ve left a class of hers, my head feels like it’s just buzzing and brimming with new information and ways of thinking about aspects of the world I hadn’t considered before.” Colleagues commented that, “in a nutshell, Shannon does the unexpected in her teaching. She uses the unexpected and untraditional for several reasons, including: it keeps the learning atmosphere interesting, and it allows her to personally model risk and innovation to her students.” Another colleague acknowledged that “risk-taking, of course, is only valuable if the risks are worthwhile, and all of Professor Dea’s risks both aim at improving student learning and the student experience, and are studiously informed by evidence and research.” Shannon Dea has previously been the proud recipient of the 2016 Arts Award for Excellence in Teaching and the 2012 Province of Ontario's Leading Women Building Communities Award.
Laboratory Instructor, Chemistry
Jake Fisher is a Lab Instructor in the Department of Chemistry and is renowned for his teaching by his students and colleagues alike. One of his undergraduate students remarked that “his course notes are the most well written and in-depth course notes I’ve come across during my undergraduate career. Jake is always welcoming and willing to help, his open-door policy for asking help ensures that students fully understand. You can tell that teaching is not just a job for him, but a passion.” Fisher was also recognized for his patience by a graduate student: “I remember going to him with the same problem multiple times and he was always as patient as he was the first time. Patience is his character trait. It’s also great to know that someone as knowledgeable as Dr. Fisher is positive about the student’s growth and success.” Fisher’s approach to mentorship extends his impact to the Chemistry Department as a whole, as noted by a colleague: “Jake mentored me in such a way that I felt like I was responsible for supervising my students and not just simply ‘keeping an eye on them.’” Jake Fisher has had the honour of receiving the 2011 Excellence in Science Teaching Award.
Assistant Professor, International Development
Julie Kate Seirlis is an Assistant Professor at St. Paul’s University College whose “transformative and memorable” teachings have inspired students, alumni, and colleagues. Nominees praise her “graceful guidance” in the development of students’ “tools for ‘critical thinking.’” Her undergraduate students value that she “constantly challenges her students to go further and deeper. She has a desire to produce critical thinkers, people who ask questions.” Graduate students are “motivated by her genuine interest and engagement with issues of environmental justice, and [are] powered by her creativity and experience in development work, research, and professorship.” An alumnus wrote: “I was able to look back and see that she had led us on a brilliant learning journey.” Several colleagues of Seirlis’s nominated her because “she has been a consistent voice of support, has connected us to many valuable contacts, and has encouraged us to bring our work into the academic sphere.”
The Amit and Meena Chakma Awards for Exceptional Teaching by a Student for 2018 will be presented to three student teachers at Convocation, Associate Provost, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs Jeff Casello announced at Monday's meeting of the University's Senate.
2018 recipients include:
Amanda Garcia is a PhD student in the Department of Systems Design Engineering. Students and faculty members recognized her as an approachable, knowledgeable, and dedicated instructor. A student remarked that “it was very clear that she wanted the students to succeed as she went above and beyond to set up one-on-one extra help sessions, was flexible on group extra help times, and was very quick to respond to email questions.” Another undergraduate student commented on her flexibility as an instructor, saying that “Amanda was a great instructor because she was constantly willing to receive feedback and alter the way she was teaching the course for the better understanding of the students.” Garcia has also been described by faculty members as “extremely patient and understanding with students.” Garcia continues to keep her classes informative, relatable, and engaging. In 2017, she was the recipient of the University of Waterloo Certificate in University Teaching Award.
Garcia has been an instructor for SYDE 533, INDEV 212, and INDEV 212, as well as a Teaching Assistant for SYDE 261.
Quinlan Lee is an undergraduate student in the Department of Economics. Known by his students for his patience, Lee is recognized as “articulate, adept at breaking down difficult concepts and always adopt[ing] a genuine approach to guiding students toward a firm understanding of lecture material.” One student explained that “Quinlan provided a clear perspective on the material that goes beyond what was expected of a TA.” One faculty member noted that “the way he teaches the problems we agree that he will present and the way he explains how to tackle some problems are truly a complement to what I teach in class.”
Lee has been a Teaching Assistant in Econ 323 for three terms over the course of his university career.
Anton Mosunov, a PhD student in Pure Mathematics, is highly recognized for his dedication to learning and teaching. When asked about Mosunov’s impact on student learning, one undergraduate student explained that “he made the content interesting and easy to follow for every student. Not only did he provide great lectures, he also provided course notes and class videos to. . . ensure that we fully understood the material outside of class.” Another student wrote that “at office hours, Anton was always helpful. Whether I had a question about the course content itself, or things beyond the scope of the course, he was always enthusiastic in answering, and recommended further reading to me which allowed me to learn much more than one course could teach.” In addition to his students’ support, a faculty member highlighted that “in all cases, he went well beyond what was expected of him and was an essential contributor to the success of the course.” His support serves as a testament to this recognition.
Mosunov has been an instructor for Math 119, and PMATH 340. He has also been a teaching assistant for Math 147, Math 148, Math 647, and Math 648.
The University of Waterloo acknowledges that much of our work takes place on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. Our main campus is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. Our active work toward reconciliation takes place across our campuses through research, learning, teaching, and community building, and is co-ordinated within the Office of Indigenous Relations.