OUSA’s 17th Partners in Higher Education Dinner and 2024 Teaching Excellence Award Recipients

Wednesday, April 10th marked OUSA’s 17th Partners in Higher Education Dinner (PiHED) and our second time hosting the event since returning from the pandemic. We are so grateful to The Honourable Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities for providing opening remarks and to Dr. Laura Mae Lindo, professor at the University of Waterloo and former MPP, for providing an impactful and poignant keynote. The event celebrated the hard work of our students, educators, sector partners, and elected officials in the higher education sector this year. We also celebrated Matthew Gerrtis as our Honoured Alumni Award recipient and Carleigh Charlton as our first-ever Excellence in Student Advocacy Award recipient in honour of Stephanie Ye-Mowe.

The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance’s Teaching Excellence Awards recognize 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, and this has never been more true than what we have witnessed over the past few years. It is our pleasure to give these remarkable professionals the recognition they deserve.



Dr. Ann-Marie DiBiase, Brock University

Dr. DiBiase is a neurobiologist and Associate Professor at Brock University since 2004, Dr. DiBiase continues to view teaching as the most important part of her role as an academic, and her main priority. Through her use of the Socratic Teaching Method, Dr. DiBiase connects with the students in her classroom through open dialogue between herself and them. The Socratic Teaching Method seeks to place students at the center of learning, an educational approach that her students have continued to express their appreciation for, as expressed by another student nomination “She always made sure to put her students first and would always listen to what the class had to say, taking this into consideration.” As an educator, Dr. DiBiase maintains committed to a teaching philosophy that ensures that each student has optimal learning and achievement opportunities, creating a classroom environment where students can feel secure, motivated, respected, supported, and believed in. Dr. DiBiase considers each student a gift and maintains that teaching her students and seeing their growth is the most rewarding part of her academic career, stating that her students are the greatest source of her inspiration and continued enthusiasm.


Dr. William Newbigging, Laurentian University

Dr. Newbigging is a professor in the Department of History at Laurentian University, where he has taught for over 30 years. Specializing in Indigenous History, this semester, he has been instrumental in delivering an acclaimed and well-loved online course titled "The First Nations of Canada." Holding a doctorate in History from the University of Toronto, he has significantly contributed to the academic discourse through the publication of several books on the history of Indigenous Peoples within Canada. Beyond his scholarly pursuits, Dr. Newbigging is deeply engaged with numerous First Nations and Indigenous associations across North America, embodying a commitment to advancing Indigenous knowledge and understanding. The impact that Professor Newbigging has on students is evidenced by the profuse support and praise they have showered upon him. Described as a “one-of-a-kind” educator, students have lauded him for his caring, kind, compassionate, and thoughtful nature, highlighting his efforts to always be responsive, supportive, and understanding. Dr. Newbigging’s passion for teaching and his genuine desire to share his knowledge make his courses not only informative but also refreshing, stress-free, and delightful. The overwhelming response that the SGA/AGÉ received from students underscores Dr. Newbigging's commitment to their success and his dedication to fostering a positive and enriching educational experience.


Dr. David Goutor, McMaster University

David Goutor is an Assistant Professor and the Director at the School of Labour Studies at McMaster University. He teaches a wide variety of subjects, including technology and the future of work, how unions mobilize workers, and theory. The has also led community-engaged education courses - including running Labour Studies' Field Placement course - for many years. A historian by training, his research explores international labour and left activism, unions and human rights activism, and labour leaders' views on immigration policy. His books include Guarding the Gates: Canadian Labour and Immigration, 1872-1934, Taking Liberties: A History of Human Rights in Canada, and A Chance to Fight Hitler: A Canadian in the Spanish Civil War. He also conducts research on a number of contemporary labour issues, including the relationship between labour rights and human rights, the living wage, and the basic income guarantee. Dr. Goutor's students describe his classroom as a genuine place for learning and discussion, with papers that enable students to relate their out-of-class learning to the course material and really consolidate their knowledge. Not to mention, he is a great orator, witty, friendly to students and excels at facilitating discussions and educational conversations with students, making them feel heard before smoothly transitioning to the next student's comments. With his thoroughly engaging lectures, students are captivated regardless of the length of the class.


Dr. Syed Qadri and Dan Walters, Ontario Tech University

Dr. Syed Qadri is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences. Dr. Qadri's specialty areas of research focus on understanding red blood cell functions in the context of hematology and blood bank storage in transfusion medicine. His passion for his subject matter is genuinely inspiring and his dedication to teaching and his commitment to his students' success makes him stand out as a professor.


Dan Walters, is an instructor in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities. Alongside the multiple hats he wears at the university his formal title is Practicum and Internship Co-ordinator. Dan represents meaningful engagement by understanding students as part of the greater municipal community. He encourages active participation through interactive lectures and group discussions and his passion for the sector and student success is inspiring. Dan views building connections and community as focal to overall student success.


Dr. Francesca Fiore, Queen’s University

Dr. Fiore has been an esteemed member of the Faculty of Arts and Science academic community since her professorial appointment in 2016. Prior to this, she had completed her MA at the University of Toronto and her PhD in French Literature at Queen’s. In her courses, she instructs students about the classical and enlightenment periods, with an intentional focus on female writers to centre their voices and ensure they are never overlooked. Dr. Fiore embodies the values of an instructor seeking to foster a sense of belonging in her classroom and demonstrates the passion that drives undergraduate education at our institution. By nominating students, she is cited as an instructor who makes students feel as though their individual voices truly matter and makes content engaging, whilst always encouraging open discussion.


Ihor Junyk, Trent University-Durham GTA

Ihor Junyk is a Professor of Cultural Studies and English Literature at Trent University, Durham, and the founding coordinator of the Trent Durham - Durham College program in Journalism and Creative Writing. He has a PhD from the University of Chicago and taught at Cornell University before coming to Trent. He has wide-ranging research interests and has published extensively on topics such as modernism in literature and the visual arts; music; and war, trauma, and memory. Teaching has been a focus and a passion throughout his career. He has taught at every level - from first year undergraduates to advanced PhDs. He seeks to create a safe and dynamic environment where everyone feels inspired to contribute to the collective effort of learning. He has become increasingly committed to research creation - the process by which students tap into their creativity. His work has appeared in such publications as Comparative Literature, Modern Fiction Studies, Grey Room, and Early Popular Visual Culture. His book manuscript, Foreign Modernism: Cosmopolitanism, Identity and Style in Paris was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2013.


Josh Neufeld, University of Waterloo

Josh Neufled is a Professor and Research Chair in the Department of Biology at the University of Waterloo. Neufled leads the Neufled lab that investigates the interface between method development, basic microbial ecology, and applied research, providing exceptional training opportunities for students and postdoctoral research fellows. Neufled is committed to the discipline of microbiology and its communication. Neufled’s current research projects include research on engineered aquatic environments, microbiology in deep geological repositories for used nuclear fuels, and investing bacteria from Boreal Shield lakes that have an impact on global biogeochemical cycling.  Professor Neufled has been described by students as being extremely engaged in both his research and his teaching. Neufled’s passion and enthusiasm for microbiology is contagious through engaging, informative, humorous, lectures that also include personal stories and occasional demonstrations. 


Dr. Riley Hinson, Western University

Professor Hinson received his PhD from McMaster University in Psychology. He did a post-doc at the Addiction Research Foundation (which is now part of The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) in Toronto from 1980-1981, before coming to Western in 1981. His research and teaching interests focus on substance use disorders, with his previous research including the role of Pavlovian Conditioning in tolerance and addiction, the role of drug outcome expectancies in drug use, and how attentional bias to drug cues is related to addiction. Professor Hinson teaches a variety of courses on drugs and behavior, ranging from a large format course of 400 students to a small community engaged learning course on addiction. The latter of these is a seminar type course, where students are placed with community organizations that have a role in the delivery of addiction services and complete a project for the organization. One such project that students do every year is organize Recovery Addiction Awareness Day, an event held in the Western University Community Center - they organize speakers and booths from student and community organizations to talk about the need for drug abuse services for students on university campuses.  One of the main focuses of this day is to destigmatize needing and asking for help if a student is struggling with their own drug use, or the use of family or friends. Through this project, Professor Hinson and his students hope to foster a non-judgmental attitude towards those who need addiction services, and help with the formation of drug-use specific helping services on our campus.


Dr. Lisa Wood, Wilfrid Laurier University

Lisa Wood is Associate Professor and Coordinator of the English program at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Brantford campus. She is cross-appointed to the Youth & Children’s Studies program, which she helped to develop after her arrival at Laurier in 2004. Her research specialization is writing by women and for young people in early 19th century Britain. This has given her the opportunity to teach courses like 200 Years of Young Adult Literature, Tween Literature and Culture, Youth Cultures, and Children, Toys, and Media. As a member of a family of dedicated educators, Dr. Wood works to help students identify and develop their own particular strengths. She is committed to a pedagogy of care, especially since the COVID pandemic, and works to create a supportive space for students to experiment with ideas and develop skills to take them through university and beyond.



Thank you to all of our guests and our generous sponsors. We hope to see you at our next PiHED!