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Above and beyond

Educators honoured for effective teaching, positive impact on students

special feature: The Student Experience

Part of a special feature highlighting the student voice, student experience and the range of student supports and opportunities available at Memorial.


By Courtenay Alcock

Each year, Memorial University recognizes individuals that demonstrate excellence in teaching and graduate supervision with a series of four President’s Awards.

These awards honour faculty members and instructors who have varied professional experience, but a few outstanding traits in common.

They stimulate intellectual excitement in students, and facilitate their education and academic progress in a way that transforms students’ learning, career paths and lives.

On top of that, these educators shine with their contributions to a progressive teaching and learning environment, making a positive impact on students and others in the university community.

The photo essay below introduces the 2019 recipients, with quotes from former students that highlight the impact they make through their teaching and supervision.

1/ Dr. Travis Fridgen: President's Award for Distinguished Teaching

Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science. “His genuine concern for the success of each of his students produces an environment that stimulates learning and engages students to freely participate in conversation. I remember a time in class when a concept was not landing with students and instead of moving on . . . he continued to pull on various analogies and utilized many demonstrations until the majority of the class was confident in the material.” -- Jevon Marsh, former student

Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

2/ Dr. Kristina Szutor: President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching

School of Music. “One aspect of Dr. Szutor’s teaching that I always admired was her ability to cultivate musical independence in her students. She always strived to build my personal "tool kit," so that I was empowered to identify and solve problems on my own. She had a way of making what felt like my worst lesson feel like my greatest one. No matter how poorly I played, she would always find a positive aspect in what she had heard.” -- Maggie Power, former student

Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

3/ Dr. Jillian Westcott: President’s Award for Outstanding Teaching (Faculty)

School of Fisheries, Marine Institute. “Every class Jill taught me was my favourite. She always made classes so engaging and fun; whether it be her calling on you for answers, afternoon trivia or group presentations. The classes were so enjoyable, you didn’t even realize how much you learned until you went home to study. She finds connections with everyone, which then helps with learning, problem-solving and growing as a student." -- Lesley Clark, former student

Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

4/ Dr. Valerie Booth: President’s Award for Outstanding Graduate and Postgraduate Student Supervision

Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science. “As a supervisor, she makes sure to hold individual bi-weekly meetings with all her students as well as group meetings, in-lab meetings and journal clubs with other interdisciplinary research groups. Individual bi-weekly meetings are very helpful and effective in tracking all our program progression and research progress. In addition, journal clubs along with group and in-lab meetings help us to cultivate professional and academic skills.” -- Paula Santisteban, PhD candidate

Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

5/ Dr. Stephen Blackwood: President’s Award for Outstanding Teaching (Lecturers and Instructional Staff)

School of Arts and Social Science, Grenfell Campus. “Whether you were in one of his classes or you were any student who needed some academic advice, Dr. Blackwood’s door was always open – and I mean that quite literally. Dr. Blackwood breaks down social barriers and creates a learning environment that is welcoming to all students. Steve believes that, in the university setting, that we are all learners. He has said…though he is the one leading the topics and discussion, the professor-student relationship ought not to take away from the fact that students have valid input.” -- Michael Butler, former student

Photo: Lori Lee Pike

For more about the President’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching and Graduate Supervision, please visit online. Information about next year’s call for nominations and related deadlines will be made available in January 2020.


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