STU faculty awards: celebrating excellence in teaching, scholarship and service

    Wall for the winners of the teaching awards from St. Thomas University. (Daniel Salas/AQ)

    St. Thomas University opened faculty award nominations for teaching, scholarship and service on Feb. 16.

    These awards recognize the outstanding contributions of full-time and part-time faculty members in professional responsibility. 

    There are three awards for full-time staff: the John McKendy Memorial Teaching Award, University Scholarship Award and University Service Award besides an Excellence in Part-Time Teaching Award.

    These awards recognize teaching quality and effectiveness, scholarly work and contributions to the university and the professional field. The awards are valued at $1,500 each and are deposited to the professional development reimbursement account. 

    Erin Hurley, a fourth-year student, decided to nominate Philip Lee this year for the John McKendy Award because “he’s always been [her] favourite professor.”

    “You can see that he cares about his students and will dedicate the time to help them,” Hurley said. “I wanted to do that back for him in return because he has made an impact on me.”

    Hurley said that to nominate Lee she wrote a letter and collected signatures from multiple students. This process took her around two weeks. 

    “He made me realize how you can be creative with your writing and enjoy the writing process and that helped me reconnect with my love for journalism,” said Hurley. 

    She said that Lee goes “above and beyond” for his students and that he has helped develop the journalism program at STU. He is currently the only full-time journalism professor. 

    “He’s such a great writer, reading his different pieces has inspired me in my writing,” Hurley said. “He advocates for important topics which is what I want to do with my journalism career.”

    Erin Fredericks, professor of sociology at STU, won the John McKendy Memorial Teaching Award last year. 

    “Teaching is something I care about a lot, it’s something I put a lot of thought into and that I work hard to practice well and that was a nice recognition,” said Fredericks. 

    Fredericks said that she had mixed feelings and even though it was nice to be nominated “there’s parts of teaching that are more rewarding than awards.”

    “I was teaching a health policy course and there was a student from a fancy neighbourhood, she always felt everyone was judging her. In the end, it made her so proud that she understood what was happening in the world,” said Fredericks. “Those moments are moments where her life is different now because I got to work with her and my life is different because I got to work with her.”

    For Fredericks, teaching is an opportunity to make a change in the world and as professors, they have the opportunity to “shape how hundreds and thousands of people see the world and what they go and do later.”

    “[Teaching] is about figuring out how to convey the information in a way that people can understand and that they can grab onto it,” said Fredericks.