2014 3M National Teaching Fellows

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Philippe Caignon
Département d’études françaises
Université Concordia

 A “guardian-angel” and a “mind-blowing professor,” according to students, Philippe Caignon, in turn, presents them as his “primary care-givers.”  He fires this salvo to open his Teaching Philosophy: “Teaching is more than transmitting knowledge.  Indeed, the profoundly human aspect of relationships, the emotional class dynamics, and the unique personality of each individual constitute factors bearing on the success of the teaching, which the professor, as much as the students, must take into account.”  Does he teach philosophy, or psychology, or education, one could ask?  Surprise!  Professor Philippe Caignon educates terminologists!  In his hands, as fully human beings, they testify repeatedly to his contagious passion, his unconditional respect, his inexhaustible energy, and his ‘overflowing’ kindness.

While “humility,” “discretion,” and even “self-effacement” are on all lips when his colleagues speak of him, Philippe’s professional omnipresence shines on every front, local, provincial, national, and international, wherever “terminological normalization” or “standardization” are on the agenda. Witnessing Caignon’s sophisticated work, we can better appreciate the potent matrix of language, policy, and social justice.  The 3M National Teaching Fellowship enriches itself with one whose passion for teaching the “norm” is powerfully “off-norm.” 

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Carol B. Duncan
Department of Religion and Culture
Wilfrid Laurier University

Carol B. Duncan joins the 3M National Fellowship as a master teacher, a powerful public intellectual, and an exceptional educational leader. Her pioneer contributions to teaching and learning about the African Diaspora have garnered international interest. She ‘ignites intellectual curiosity’ in students across institutions, defies complacency in the politics of education, and commits to a teaching philosophy rooted in an ethic of care. Dr. Duncan adds the Fellowship to an illustrious list of teaching awards starting from her graduate student days and sustained forward across multiple universities.

She has developed 25 courses, many intersecting difficult and contentious subjects in the expansive field of religious and cultural studies. As a skilled storyteller she incorporates a multi-faceted narrative approach to her teaching, including performing and visual arts and the voices of witnesses and commentators. She is nimble in her teaching, integrating current events such as the religion course she taught after the devastating earthquake in Haiti.  Her support of collaborative arts projects is an example of her ability to integrate classroom learning into the community.  As Lawrence Hill observes, “The ability to unite people and to build bridges between students, activists, and artists is one of Carol’s greatest gifts as an educator.”

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Donna Marie Eansor
Faculty of Law
University of Windsor

Professor Donna Marie Eansor motivates her students to become justice seekers inspired with a passion for justice.  Lawyers are persons of privilege, power and influence uniquely situated to make a difference in Canadian society.  With privilege comes responsibility.

A servant to the ideals of social justice for nearly thirty years, Professor Eansor has become a nationally- recognized leader in issues of equality, student support, and equitable access to post-secondary education.  As one student said: “In an environment of increasing division and institutional change, she remains committed to what professors forever can and should be.”

The recipient of six major teaching awards, Donna Marie remains approachable and according to one student, “Prof. Eansor is there for her students regardless.  [She] encouraged me to finish my degree and has lead me down a better path as a result.”

Professor Eansor has expanded her influence through scores of presentations, public lectures, and publications.  Her students respect and adore her: “ I like to think of my classes with Prof. Eansor not so much as vertical or didactic but as horizontal and symbiotic.  She embodies the concept of an academic who has just as much to learn from her students as they have to learn from her.”

Pippa web

Pippa Lock
Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology
McMaster University

“Dr. Lock likes to make things explode, and these events are metaphors for her approach to teaching,” observes her nominator.  The complex process always produces a dramatic and reliable reaction.  Pippa coordinates Mac’s introductory Chemistry course, responsible for more than 2,500 students.  She has won all the available teaching awards, but she still pushes herself to best meet the specific needs of every student.  One muses, “I really have no idea how she finds the time to help us all, but she does.” 

Dr. Lock believes all students can understand and do organic chemistry equations, if only they are taught in ways they can understand.  Her students attest to this.  Peer reviewers conclude, “to watch Dr. Lock in action is to witness something magical.”  Then come the hard questions: Was that explosion a combustion reaction? A redox reaction?  Did entropy increase?  Was enthalpy negative?  So spectacle gives way to discussion. 

Lock’s contributions have had astounding effects on thousands of individuals in and beyond the classroom and the institution.  Her vision, willingness to risk, and sensitive approach to all she does encourage her students to greater things.

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Patrick Maher
Department of Community Studies
Cape Breton University
**Nominated while faculty at the University of Northern British Columbia

“The Fraser River is an amazing connector…from small streams in the Robson Valley to the delta with the Salish Sea.” Literally and metaphorically, rivers have shaped the teaching landscape for Dr. Patrick Maher. This “teacher-scholar-learner” wants his graduating students to continue to quench their own thirst for knowledge and nourish the social and ecological communities around them.

Patrick has designed and developed field schools—vibrant learning communities in which students connect with each other as they push boundaries and confront challenge. Yet, whether in the Arctic, Haida Gwaii, or closer to home, Patrick strives to create authentic learning experiences where students make real connections and so develop a sense of “trust and wonder” to touch their hearts and open their minds, aided by the reflective learning journals that are hallmarks of his approach.

Just as water is the essence of life, Patrick Maher’s teaching philosophy channels reverence for the environment, respect for the miracle of continuous curiosity, and unrestrained affection for his students. His dossier overflows with their gratitude: “My perspective shifted. My education was no longer external to me; it was personal, internal, and finally real.”

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Jacqueline Murray
Department of History and Director, First-Year Seminar Program
University of Guelph

Jacqueline Murray may be a scholar in medieval history and the Director of the First-Year Seminar Program, but her real talent is teaching outside of her comfort zone, and persuading students to learn outside of theirs. Jacqueline characterizes teaching as an “intellectual aerobic activity” and her success in sharing her passion for life-long learning and for tackling multi-disciplinary, complex problems radiates from comments by her students. ”I came to University to be pushed, to be challenged, and this course exceeded all my expectations.” “This course challenged me to confront who I am and what I want to do.” “I don’t know why I registered in the course but she literally has changed my whole perspective on being at university.” 

Jacqueline uses inquiry approaches masterfully to “provide students with opportunities to feel the exhilaration of new knowledge—a new historical time period, a new skill, the sheer delight of an unexpected discovery… I want my students to be empowered by the realization that everything is open to interrogation.”  Whether she is leading students on a field trip to the Kalahari, volunteering in Ghana, or lecturing in her history classroom, this remarkable teacher leads by example and by valuing questions more than answers.

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Rosemary Polegato
Ron Joyce Centre for Business Studies
Mount Allison University 

“I tend two gardens.”  Dr. Rosemary Polegato tends the first from May until August, but otherwise, she toils in the garden of teaching and learning. Her strategies, based on reflection, community, and appreciation of beauty and self, encourage students to become co-creators of their own learning, rooted in landscapes of their own making.

Teachers and gardeners begin each season optimistic, but they are not naïve or afraid of toil; indeed, Rosemary thrives in such a landscape.  Her unique courses marry business studies with arts and culture, and explore the intersections between consumers and the environment. Rosemary facilitates autonomy, yet establishes clear learning outcomes.  She makes student learning portfolios the capstone assignment in most courses.

Rosemary has built vibrant relationships with the Arts and Culture sector, creating internships and experiential learning opportunities. Her students organize much-lauded events to celebrate Culture Days (New Brunswick).  Hailed as “an inspiration and shining example of how the university and community can collaborate,” Rosemary’s work with Culture Days has gained national recognition.  Authenticity and caring are her hallmarks, distinguishing every encounter with students and colleagues, who praise her exceptional mentoring.  The seeds she plants blossom in others’ practice.  Her nominator says, Rosemary “exudes a calm generosity,” helping her to cultivate widespread respect.

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Cameron Tsujita
Department of Earth Sciences
Western University 

“After you said on the first day, ‘I’m here to teach,’ I fell in love with you.”  Cameron’s students feel strongly about their professor.  Great teachers transform: “So infectious are Cam’s teaching methods that once I was exposed to his ideals, I continued to replicate them throughout my life,” says a former undergraduate. Cam is dedicated to inspiring others to improve their teaching well beyond Western’s campus. His educational leadership includes peer mentoring, workshop presentations, conferences, video, TV, radio, and pedagogic publications. 

He created the Ontario Geoscience Resource Network to open communication among Ontario geoscience departments, museums, and school teachers, providing them with resources to deliver Earth Science-related concepts. His colleagues generously agree: “It is common knowledge that Cam Tsujita is by far the best teacher in our group.”  Dr. Tsujita’s goal is to educate those around him, the students in his class, his fellow faculty, the public, administrators, and the country.” “One out of a million profs! Awesome course but not a bird class. You definitely need to go to class. Very interesting class though! My favourite so far! I give Cam a 10 out of 10 !!” 

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Maureen Volk
School of Music
Memorial University

Maureen Volk’s students speak in plain superlatives: “You’re wicked!”  Others see her as a saint, with healing powers.  Maureen’s life has been transformed by teaching.  She first joined the School of Music because she could play the piano and be paid for it.  Since that time, Maureen no longer plays to live, she lives to teach, describing herself as a “combination of humanist and geek.”  She changes the lives of her devoted students.  She gives each one at least a one-hour piano lesson a week.  Maureen has learned enough about anatomy and neurology to make curative changes in students’ posture and interaction with the keyboard. 

A music professor, teaching public performance, must be attentive in many ways—creatively, technically, aesthetically, physically, psychologically, intellectually—in a discipline where the performance is never perfect. “Dr. Volk’s teaching speaks for itself; she is truly one of a kind. But not only is her teaching bar none, the relationship she has with each of her students is unique and personal.  It really makes the difference. We love her!”  Dr. Volk is a model of kindness, rigour, and outreach, and her influence can be felt locally, provincially, and nationally.  

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Jonathan White
Department of Surgery
University of Alberta

Jon White teaches surgeons, not surgery. One student reminisced, “Dr. White was the first surgeon who treated me like a colleague, who made me accept in my heart … that he was teaching not so I could do well on a rotation, or on an exam. Dr. White taught me with the goal of making me a surgeon.”

Colleagues call Jonathan White “the reflective surgeon” because he thinks deeply and then acts decisively. This might mean getting 240 students to dress up as surgeons in a lecture theatre, reaching more than a million people worldwide through his Surgery 101 podcasts, or spending time with an individual medical student in the middle of a busy rotation to work through a complex problem.

He believes in transformative leadership, taking aim at himself first, then colleagues, and ultimately the world. As one colleague notes: “[Jon] shows an unrelenting commitment to medical education.” Unrelenting, indeed.  He wasn’t satisfied learning a few things about teaching and learning through a few workshops. He completed a master’s degree in medical education, sharing his own transformation generously by training more than 160 new surgeons how to teach, and spreading what he learns through publications and presentations internationally.