June 8, 2020

Awards celebrate excellence in teaching and outstanding contributions to student learning

2020 University of Calgary Teaching Awards recipients announced – Part 1

We are excited to announce the recipients of the 2020 University of Calgary Teaching Awards.  

The University of Calgary Teaching Awards recognize outstanding contributions to teaching and learning by individuals and teams, in categories including educational leadership, curriculum development, teaching online, team teaching and graduate supervision. The 2020 awards program received 54 nominations and has 20 award recipients. 

As an initiative supported by Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Dru Marshall, the awards are as rigorous as they are prestigious. The Teaching Awards are determined by 10 adjudication committees comprised of 60 volunteers. Adjudicators are selected to balance academic discipline and gender on the committees. Volunteer adjudicators are asked to attend an orientation session to identify and address risk factors for implicit bias. 

With much consideration and to respect physical distancing requirements that are still in place, the 2020 Teaching Awards recipients will be recognized through a social media celebration and a series of three articles published on June 8 to 10, 2020. Join the conversation on social media by tagging the Taylor Institute on Twitter (@UCalgary_TI) and using the hashtags #TeachingAwards2020 and #UCalgary. 

Please join us in congratulating all recipients of the 2020 University of Calgary Teaching Awards. 

Message from President Ed McCauley

Award for Full Time Academic Staff (Senior Instructor) 
Dr. Erin Sullivan, PhD, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science 

Erin Sullivan believes one of the best learning experiences is to teach. She is the course co-ordinator for CHEM 201, a large foundational first-year course for chemistry majors and non-majors. To break through the barriers associated with teaching a large class, Sulllivan spends a significant amount of time designing her lectures to ensure active student engagement. From adding chemistry jokes to her lecture slides to using group scratch card quizzes and learning technologies, she continuously tries new teaching practices and solicits student feedback to grow as an instructor. Sullivan oversees the instructional teaching team for multiple sections of the course and between six to 20 teaching assistants. She was involved in developing the Teaching Assistant Training and Mentorship program and has undertaken Scholarship of Teaching and Learning initiatives around designing in-class assignments and simulation-based learning. In the words of a former student, “One thing that has always stood out to me about Dr. Sullivan is her humility and ability to interact with students in a manner that makes them feel valued and equal.” 

Award for Full-Time Academic Staff (Assistant Professor) 
Dr. Man-Wai Chu, PhD, Werklund School of Education 

Man-Wai Chu holds both specialized expertise and nuanced pedagogical understanding, of measurement and evaluation to teach inferential and multivariate statistics to graduate students. She received the University of Calgary Education Students’ Association Teaching Award in 2017 and the Werklund School of Education Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2019. Chu’s teaching philosophy is comprised of three principles: Commitment to the development and use of authentic assessments that are relevant to students’ future roles; use of individual formative feedback to improve student learning; and development of positive and trusting relationships with her students. Chu’s research work has shown that developing a positive and trusting relationship with students increases their effort during the course and improves their academic achievement. According to her nominators, her colleagues “have come to respect and admire the many ways that Dr. Chu designs research-informed and responsive learning experiences that actively engage students’ interests and passions.” 

Award for Full-Time Academic Staff (Associate Professor) 
Dr. Jean-François Richer, PhD, School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures and Cultures, Division of French, Faculty of Arts

Jean-François Richer’s commitment to students’ learning and their personal development is nothing short of remarkable. He teaches French language and literature courses at all levels and has an admirable reputation for his passionate delivery of course material. His colleagues say that he demonstrates the rare ability to instil passion for the field in his students, while creating a positive and respectful atmosphere to enable student learning. Richer values being able to motivate students with engaging learning experiences and holds an innate willingness to innovate and step out of his comfort zone. His choice to invest in his students’ university experience has had an invaluable impact on their academic success and career paths. He gives them the confidence and tenacity to aim high and persist in the pursuit of their professional and personal goals. In Richer’s own words, “Teaching is about setting in motion a shared experience in knowledge. It’s a journey. It’s a voyage in which the travellers, both the students and the professor, are the destination.” 

Award for Full-Time Academic Staff (Instructor) 
Houston Peschl, Haskayne School of Business 

Houston Peschl strives to innovate and improve student experiences through what he calls the “21st Century Pedagogy” — a model he developed in Entrepreneurial Thinking 317 to help students apply entrepreneurial thinking skills to solve real-world social and environmental problems. The course was designed using Peschl’s Seven Traits of Entrepreneurial Thinking framework, which has since become the foundation of the entrepreneurship concentration at Haskayne and the strategy of the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking. Much of his success is rooted in the way he seeks feedback and strives for continuous improvement in his teaching. Peschl is a living example of the Failing Forward mentality that he teaches. Failing Forward has been developed into an Open Education Resource (OER) to replace expensive textbooks and to provide academically tested Scholarship of Teaching and Learning pedagogy to allow students and instructors the ability to teach the seven skills of entrepreneurial thinking at scale. Currently 18 global institutions use the OER for teaching entrepreneurial thinking to students. 

Award for Full-Time Academic Staff (Professor) 
Dr. David Pattison, PhD, Department of Geoscience, Faculty of Science 

David Pattison joined the Department of Geoscience in 1987 and has a career-long record of distinguished contributions to undergraduate teaching, mentorship and engagement with students. Throughout the years, Pattison has received several teaching awards including the Faculty of Science Award for Excellence in Teaching and the President’s Circle Award for Teaching Excellence. Pattison’s no-nonsense approach to teaching centres on small practices — from learning students’ names to encouraging classroom dialogue — that together achieve a broader goal of creating a respectful and positive learning environment. Carefully designing his courses, assessments and labs so students can have integrated learning experiences, he notes that “clarity of exposition is just as important as passion” and takes time to ensure his classes are well-planned and paced. In Pattison’s own words, “To me, an excellent educator is a fusion of passion, academic authority, imagination, organization, clarity and respect. That pretty well sums up my teaching philosophy.” 

Award for Graduate Supervision 
Dr. Michele Jacobsen, PhD, Werklund School of Education 

Michele Jacobsen has supervised 20 doctoral and 11 master’s students to completion over the past 20 years and has co-supervised an Eyes High postdoctoral scholar. In 2018, she was the recipient of a Great Supervisor Award through the Faculty Graduate Studies and in 2019, she received the Werklund School of Education 2019 Distinguished Graduate Supervision Award. Jacobsen’s philosophy of graduate supervision centres on the idea of knowledge building, empowering her students’ identities as researchers and their desire to change society for the better through their research. She listens carefully to learn about her students, is intentional when building strong research-focused relationships, and engages in conversations that draw out her students’ strengths. From the beginning of the journey, graduate students under Jacobsen’s supervision and mentorship know that her support extends well past convocation. In her own words, “It is a rare privilege and an honour to work with graduate students and to be a part of their lives as well as their learning journey.” 

Award for Librarians, Archivists and Curators 
Kim Clarke, Libraries and Cultural Resources, and Faculty of Law 

Kim Clarke is the director of the Bennett Jones Law Library and has more recently become the director of the Doucette Library of Teaching Resources. Clarke was nominated for the Faculty of Law’s Howard Tidswell Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence in 2010 and has developed two community-based educational programs: Research in the Real World (RRW) and the New Law Librarians’ Institute 2018 (NLLI). She emphasizes the relevance of the course material, illustrating how the skills developed from the class will assist students in real practical contexts. She further assesses and responds to the skill levels and learning needs of her students and supports a variety of preferred learning styles (visual, auditory, reading and kinesthetic) to increase the students’ retention of the material. Instructors, colleagues and students always compliment Clarke’s ability to present complex information in an understandable manner. In the words of her nominator, “Kim is a passionate and dedicated teacher who values her students’ questions and experiences.” 

For a full list of current and past Teaching Awards recipients, please visit our website