OUSA's Teaching Excellence Award Recipients

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 2017 OUSA Teaching Excellence Awards!

Dr. Ebru Ustundag – Brock University

Ebru Ustundag is a Geography and Social Justice and Equity studies professor at Brock University. Ebru exudes teaching excellence through her passion and her dedication to student success. Within the classroom, Ebru creates an open and safe environment that encourages students to feel comfortable with sharing their knowledge, experiences, and perspectives. She is cognizant and supportive of different learning styles and is willing to explain course concepts in multiple ways to adapt to her students’ needs. Ebru’s students appreciate her coursework as she integrates current world issues into her teaching content and challenges them to make a difference in their community. Ebru has made experiential learning a priority in her classroom, translating theory into practice. One of her students described their experience with Ebru as, “the ignition of a fire within me and my peers; she gave us the courage and the tools to make positive change in our world.” Brock University is truly lucky to have a professor that brings so much passion and enthusiasm for teaching to her position.

Kathleen Zinn – Laurentian University

The Students’ General Association at Laurentian University has chosen Professor Kathleen Zinn as the 2017 Teaching Award. Professor Zinn has come full circle, a graduate of Laurentian University for her Bachelor and masters degree. She became a Professor in 2013 in the Sport and Administration department in the Faculty of Management. Since 2013 she has been bringing her vast knowledge of teaching overseas in South Korea alongside her research on the 2008 Beijing Olympics among other topics to her lectures and guidance she provides to students on a day to day basis. Professor Zinn has had the ability to transform a classroom into a next level learning environment with hands on experiential learning for her students to use to ensure they are ready for their career upon graduation. Throughout the selection process there was a not a student that felt Professor Zinn should not be the recipient of this years award.

Dr. Nikolai Penner – McMaster University

Dr. Nikolai Penner joined the Department of Linguistics and Languages at McMaster in 2008 and is a Teaching-Track Assistant Professor. He teaches mostly courses in the German language at various levels, one of which triggered his award tonight. As the Vice President Education at McMaster, I sit on the selection committee for this award, which mainly consists of reading through student feedback. As a health sciences student, I've never considered taking German, but these testimonials made me seriously want to register next year.  Students consistently spoke of Dr. Penner's commitment to a classroom environment where students feel cared for and excited to learn. Many students spoke of how they truly looked forward to attending class and felt like the learning experience was amongst the most meaningful this far in their time on campus.

Dr. Amanda Paxton – Trent University

Doctor Amanda Paxton is a professor of English Literature at Trent University.  Her research interests include the 19th century literature and culture; Pre-Raphaelitism; Gothic literature, gender studies; religious poetry and subjectivity; composition theory; as well as theories of aesthetics. At Trent University Durham Amanda teaches a wide variety of classes, spanning from first-year writing courses to classes on Victorian sexuality, as well as advanced upper-year courses in Romantic literature. Students of all levels of studies and areas of interest have been lucky enough to have been taught by Amanda since she began her work at Trent Durham, leaving a lasting impression on each and every one of them. Amanda brings an unstoppable enthusiasm and energy to every single one of her lectures, and whether they be at 9am or 9pm; she faces no difficultly in engaging her students in thoughtful, and critical discussions. Doctor Paxton brings her unique sense of humour to the most challenging of subject matter, always allowing for the classroom to be a place of playful and experimental engagement with course texts. Amanda brings her wonderful personality and critical thought to several committees on the Durham campus as well, as she continues to support her students and provide additional knowledge outside of the classroom setting. Her availability for consultation and passion for engaging with students is undeniable, and Amanda has become a key facet of Trent Durham’s Campus. 

Dr. Richard Ascough – Queen’s University

Dr. Richard Ascough is a professor in the Queen’s University School of Religion. Dr. Ascough has been nominated by several students for AMS teaching awards. Each student speaks of his passion and enthusiasm for his course material, and his dedication to his students. Students praise his ability to integrate both lecture material and class discussions to create an engaging classroom environment when students are able to learn from him, and from each other. Dr. Ascough works to encourage each of his students to think critically. One nomination package highlighted this, with his student stating, “He asks that students challenge his thoughts and beliefs, rather than taking his lessons at face value”. Students highlight that he always makes time for his students, both inside and outside the classroom, and gets to know every single student, even in large classes. Based off the nomination packages received and testimonies from peers, Dr. Richard Ascough was a clear choice as the Queen’s recipient of the OUSA Teaching Excellence Award.

Dr. Frankie Condon – University of Waterloo 

Dr. Frankie Condon is a distinguished lecturer and member of the Faculty of English at the University of Waterloo. As a professor, Dr. Condon aims to highlight the importance of different rhetorical modes and strategies used in shaping and enabling our narratives; to provide her students with an extended “sense of their own agency and responsibility as scholars, rhetorician, and writers.” Dr. Frankie Condon’s teaching greatly facilitates student engagement, and encourages students to critically examine the impact of writing and rhetoric in the forging of human relations and interactions. Her students know her and the teacher who loves Harry Potter as she taught the well-received English course Popular Potter. In the many nominations she received, students spoke of her ability to keep students engaged and encourage discussion. Dr. Condon fosters a sense of community in her classroom through the use of a House Cup where students are awarded points for acts of kindness. Dr. Condon exemplifies what it means to not only be a professor, but a mentor. Students at the University of Waterloo are grateful to have her on campus. Her compassion for her students, innovative teaching methods, and passion for teaching makes Dr. Condon an amazing teacher and very deserving of this award.

Dr. Sarah McLean – Western University 

Dr. Sarah McLean taught her first “class” -a group of her stuffed animals and her baby brother- in 1990. She has been passionate about teaching ever since. Dr. McLean is currently a faculty member with the Departments of Anatomy & Cell Biology and Physiology & Pharmacology. She is also a teaching fellow with the Teaching Support Centre. Dr. McLean received her undergraduate degree from the University of Waterloo, and during this time, had the opportunity to work as an undergraduate teaching assistant. She received her Doctorate from Western, working in the laboratory of Dr. John Di Guglielmo, where she studied signalling pathways involved in non-small cell lung cancer. During her PhD, she had the opportunity to manage an online physiology course and lecture for Phys 2130. These experience solidified her desire to teach in higher education. She is thrilled to be pursuing her passion for teaching and educational scholarship in the BMSUE program. Her primary responsibilities are the management, teaching and development of advanced level interdisciplinary medical sciences courses. Dr. McLean loves to experiment with her teaching, and employs a number of techniques such as blended learning, online learning, demonstrations, discussions, and debates, to name a few. She has published her teaching innovations in several articles. Overall, Dr. McLean feels that passion, respect, and rapport with her students are the key components to build an impactful learning experience. She feels that together, she and her students can create and share new knowledge; she hopes that her students learn as much from her as she learns from them.

Dr. Scott Gallimore – Wilfrid Laurier University

Dr. Scott Gallimore is a professor in the Archaeology and Classical Studies department at Wilfrid Laurier University. He completed his Bachelor of Arts at the University of Toronto, and received his Masters and PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo. His research interests include Roman and landscape archaeology, and ancient economy. Inside of the classroom Dr. Gallimore brings an uncommon sense of passion and energy to all of his students. He encourages critical thought, collaboration, and provides his students with a thorough understanding of the curriculum. Students are constantly excited to attend his classes, and always leave with new insight and knowledge about the topic they were discussing. Dr. Gallimore has also arranged archaeological field studies for students to partake in, taking students to Greece every summer since 2012. These studies have provided students with hands on experiences that many people dream of doing. At a time where work integrated learning is becoming essential for students to enter into the job market, these field studies courses that Dr. Gallimore has arranged and supervised grant students with the much needed expertise to be successful in their career following graduation.