2016 Recipients of the OUSA Teaching Excellence Awards

The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance Teaching Excellence Award recognizes educators who excel at unlocking the potential of Ontario’s young people. Successfully engaging individuals in the learning experience depends on an instructor's ability to spark students' curiosity and desire to learn. It is our pleasure to give these remarkable professionals the recognition they deserve.

A good textbook and a high-tech classroom are not enough to provide a quality education.  An excellent instructor will be able to engage their students in the process of learning and discovery and help them develop the critical skills that form the foundation of a robust education. With this in mind, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance annually presents its teaching awards to professors from each of our member campuses who have taken this role to heart, and who have been selected by their students as examples of teaching excellence.

We are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2016 OUSA Teaching Excellence Awards!

Dr. Hevina Dashwood - Brock University
Dr. Hevina Dashwood is currently the Chair of the Political Science department at Brock University. She is one who is always willing to go the extra mile in ensuring her students are successful, both inside and outside of the classroom. She has proven that experiential learning is a viable method of education in universities. As the administrator of the political science internship program, she personally matches students with workplaces they wish to see themselves in in the future. The program operates independently of other co-op programs and the curriculum itself was created by a student under her direction and funded by the university.

Dr. Dashwood is the kind of professor who does not just ask how you are doing in school, but rather how you are doing in general. She is concerned about the education of each and every one of her students, and does what she can to ensure they receive the best education possible. She is friendly, approachable, and tries to include students in every experience she can.

Dr. Chad Harvey - McMaster University
Dr. Chad Harvey is by all means an exceptionally deserving instructor for this award. By becoming both a mentor and friend to students, he goes above and beyond the role of an instructor. From day one he is clear that the health and well being of his students is more important than any assignment or any grade. His lecturers are engaging, interactive, and interdisciplinary, and draw on analogies to teach content and strengthen understanding. He is a beloved figure within the McMaster Integrated Science Program for his eccentricity, passion, and dedication to easing the first year transition.

Dr. Harvey is accommodating and offers multiple and diverse methods of assessment, which not only improve the skills students learn but the accessibility of the classroom itself. His passion and dedication for experiential and problem-based learning shine into every course, which greatly enhances the learning of his students. Truly, the only way to describe Dr. Harvey’s approach to teaching is to say that it is student-centered.

Dr. Kip Pegley - Queen's University
This year’s OUSA Teaching Award winner from Queen’s University is Dr. Kip Pegley from the School of Drama and Music. Dr. Pegley joined the School in 2002 as a Queen’s National Scholar. Her research and teaching are in the field of ethnomusicology; specifically, the intersections of popular music, visual culture, and critical theory.

According to her students both past and present Dr. Pegley is “an engaging lecturer with an infectious enthusiasm for the material she teaches.” Students always look forward to attending her classes, and are disappointed if they ever have to miss one. Dr. Pegley “turns learning into something [students] look forward to” and keeps her students engaged throughout her courses. In addition to winning the OUSA Teaching Award, Dr. Pegley was also awarded the 2015-2016 Frank Knox Award, Queen’s university-wide student-selected teaching award.

Dr. Joel Baetz - Trent University
Dr. Joel Baetz is a professor who truly exemplifies high-quality teaching. This award recognizes a professor that has shown, in the eyes of students, a commitment to improving the university experience, both inside and outside the classroom. He is an uncommonly kind and personable intellectual who is deserving of this recognition.

Dr. Baetz is a professor of English Literature at Trent University. He completed his undergraduate and masters at McGill University and his doctorate at York University. His research interests include Canadian literature, Anglo-American modernisms, American comics and Poetry.

Inside the classroom Dr. Baetz brings passion, energy, and comfort to all of his students. He encourages critical thought, the critical evaluation of text, and brings to his students a profound understanding of English Literature. Outside the classroom is a similar story: he maintains his passionate, energetic, and comforting persona during committee meetings, events, and conversation.

Michelle Ashburner - University of Waterloo
Michelle Ashburner is currently a sessional instructor in mathematics at the University of Waterloo and we would like to recognize and celebrate her excellent teaching, which has made a lasting impact on many of her students.

Her outstanding teaching skills have created an environment for high quality student learning in the Faculty of Mathematics. Implementing her knowledge from her Bachelor of Education has helped her excel in her pedagogical work and demonstrates the true value that an education in teaching can bring to universities.

Her students are willing to make mistakes in order to learn from them because she recognizes and supports that trying and making mistakes are an essential part of the education process. She is well respected by her students, her classes are seen as engaging and entertaining, and she is always willing to provide additional help to those who need it.

Dr. Radoslav Dimitrov - Western University
Dr. Radoslav Dimitrov specializes in global environmental politics, international climate change negotiations, and UN diplomacy. His theoretical work focuses on science and environmental policy, argumentation and persuasion in politics, and norms in world politics. His award-winning work introduced the concept of non-regimes to the field of global governance, through studies on coral reefs policy and global forest negotiations.

While his research has made an immense impact on today’s climate change issues, what he is being recognized for today is the innovative and creative ways he engages with his students. Dr. Dimitrov is known for his simulations where students are assigned countries with the goal of creating international agreements. His students have said it encourages them to gain in depth knowledge of their country, excellent problem solving skills, and an understanding of the official method of global negotiations. Most importantly, this simulation gives a fuller understanding of politics that the traditional method of lecturing does not.

Dr. Dimitrov is an incredible asset to Western’s Political Science Faculty and is an inspiration to so many of Western students. The effort put into both pedagogy and climate negotiations around the world has had an incredible impact on climate change scholarship and experience.

Dr. Christopher Anderson - Wilfrid Laurier University
Few political science students at Laurier have obtained their degree without first taking a class with Dr. Chris Anderson, and they are better for it. He exemplifies a passion for teaching and empathy for his students that is unrivalled by his colleagues. Having taught one of the largest introductory courses in the program, not only is he incredibly knowledgeable about his subject areas, he is passionate about helping students understand it. His leadership in this role has given countless students the tools to succeed during their post-secondary education and have made lectures interesting and engaging.

He has also taught a significant number of upper-year courses in which he invites students to critically engage with the material, thereby developing their skills and enhancing their educational experience. Finally, Dr. Anderson has recently served as an undergraduate academic advisor, a role that is tasked with helping students make their way through their degree and he shows genuine care while doing this.