Published on Brock University (http://www.brocku.ca)
First-rate teaching and training that goes above and beyond the norm is the cornerstone of Brock’s reputation for excellence in undergraduate and graduate education.
As such, at this year’s Spring Convocation, the University will pay tribute to six faculty members for their exceptional contributions to teaching.
“This year’s recipients of our Faculty Awards for Excellence in Teaching provide our students with an education and educational experience that is second to none,” says Murray Knuttila, Provost and Vice-President, Academic. “The quality of teaching and supportive learning environment that these outstanding faculty give to our students helps them to excel both inside and outside the classroom.”
The Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching is awarded to individuals chosen by selection committees of Faculty members, staff and students from the Faculties of Applied Health Sciences, Business, Education, Humanities, Mathematics and Science and Social Sciences. Nominees must have a reputation for superior teaching and be recognized for this quality by students and colleagues.
This year’s recipients are:
Professor Neta Gordon
Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Humanities:
Professor Neta Gordon’s commitment to teaching is to fully engage her students, whatever their background and major, in the study and appreciation of literature. She does this in a way that enables them to connect the concerns and powers of great literature to the meanings and potential of their own lives — a goal she has pursued with deep reflection and a sparkling imagination during her time at Brock.
Professor Gordon has created syllabi and methods that lead students to understand how to understand literature, to write and think clearly, and to rely on and develop their own intelligence and moral commitment.
Professor Gordon has the ability to turn the briefest class discussions and most hesitant student questions into illuminating teaching moments shared by all. Her large classes are a clinic in how to motivate students to learn. The fact that she remembers the name of almost every student in a class of more than 200 also helps.
In her Fourth-Year Honours seminar, Professor Gordon immerses her students in learning not only by teaching them to read, discuss and contextualize literature, but also by having them organize and carry out a public symposium in which they deliver presentations of their scholarly work.
In every aspect of her teaching, Professor Gordon brings imagination, enthusiasm and good cheer. Her strength lies in a combination of a disciplined, organized approach; an understanding of what students really need to learn; a continual and imaginative reflection; an openness to engagement; and an impressive on-stage vitality.
Professor Bozidar Mitrovic
Department of Physics, Faculty of Mathematics and Science:
Professor Bozidar Mitrovic is a theoretical physicist and professor of Physics. He joined the Brock community in July 1983 and since then has developed many courses at the University ranging from First-Year classes on the Principles of Physics, to graduate courses in Advanced Quantum Mechanics.
Professor Mitrovic is someone who has given a great deal of thought to the challenges associated with both teaching and learning. And as a result he has become particularly artful in his ability to convey complex ideas to his classes.
In support for his nomination for this award, one of his colleagues writes: “Bozidar is able to bring to his course an appreciation of the precision and intellectual rigor that governs his own scientific work.”
At Brock, Professor Mitrovic has also developed a pair of very popular First-Year astronomy courses that students from all across the University enroll in for their science context requirement.
Courses like this are especially challenging to teach because they are made up of students with little previous knowledge of, and possibly even interest in, the subject material. Thousands of students have taken Professor Mitrovic’s courses and almost all of them completed them with both a heightened knowledge of the universe and a greater appreciation of science.
One of his students, who describes Professor Mitrovic as “real” and “down to earth,” notes: “When speaking to him you get his full attention and he shows a genuine interest in your questions. … I would take this class 1,000 times over.”
Professor Michael Manley-Casimir
Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education, Faculty of Education:
Professor Michael Manley-Casimir is a professor in the Faculty Education at Brock who recently completed a term as director of the University’s Tecumseh Centre for Aboriginal Research and Education.
Beginning his career as a classroom teacher in Kelowna, BC, Professor Manley-Casimir moved into school administration first as vice-principal and then principal of a secondary school in Ashcroft, BC. He later entered graduate studies at the University of British Columbia, completing his MEd before proceeding to doctoral studies at the University of Chicago.
In 1974, he joined the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. After a distinguished career at Simon Fraser he was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Education at Brock in 1998.
In 2004, he completed an LLM through the Faculty of Law at the University of British Columbia and wrote a thesis on the meaning of “freedom of conscience” in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Professor Manley-Casimir’s research interests lie at the intersection of law and educational policy. During his career, he has collaborated with many colleagues on research projects and has secured more than three-quarters of a million dollars in external research funding, including four grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Professor Manley-Casimir has received a Distinguished Service Award from the Canadian Association for the Study of Educational Administration for his academic and practical work in educational administration, and a Mentorship Award from the Canadian Committee of Students in Education for his work mentoring graduate students.
Professor Tim O’Connell
Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences:
Professor Tim O’Connell’s impact in the area of innovation and leadership in teaching and learning is evident both within the classroom and beyond.
In addition to innovative and experiential teaching practices in the traditional classroom and in outdoor recreation, field-based and theory courses, Professor O’Connell has contributed to his department through his involvement with the redesign of the outdoor recreation curriculum and the development of the Outdoor Education Lab.
Additionally, Professor O’Connell has facilitated partnerships with nationally and internationally renowned outdoor recreation organizations — such as Outward Bound Canada and the National Outdoor Leadership School — providing opportunities for students to connect theory with practice.
Most recently, he has taken the lead in implementing Brock BaseCamp, a new campus-wide wilderness orientation initiative for First-Year students. This program, facilitated by current Brock students, teaches technical skills and campus life knowledge as a way to enhance student retention, promote student self-confidence and encourage healthy decision-making during first year. It also allows student leaders the opportunity to put into practice what they have studied in the classroom.
In addition to his area of disciplinary scholarship in the field of the social psychology of outdoor recreation, group dynamics and leadership theory, Professor O’Connell’s publications in the area of the scholarship of teaching focus on the effective use of reflective journals as a pedagogical tool.
Professor Tanya Martini
Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences:
Professor Tanya Martini is a well-rounded instructor who excels in the areas of teaching, supervising and curriculum development.
Professor Martini is especially known for her stellar contributions to her department’s Third-Year methods course. She redesigned the curriculum of this challenging course to prepare students to conduct independent research in their Fourth Year and, with her detailed feedback, to better develop their scholarly writing skills.
As a result of her work, the Chair of the Department of Psychology notes: “supervisors have found their thesis students to have been exceptional well trained.”
Research methods courses have a reputation with students for being dry and unnecessary, but when Professor Martini is their teacher that is not the case. Her enthusiasm for research and ability to communicate this excitement to her students is evident in her consistently high course evaluations, despite the rigour of the material.
Her students typically remark: “She is an incredible professor. She engages everyone in the room. She is enthusiastic and she infuses her lectures with a sense of humour that keeps everyone focused. She is also flexible and understanding. She gives us the opportunity to ask questions and seek clarification without making anyone feel inadequate. She uses learning tools that are practical and useful.”
At every level of instruction, Professor Martini takes the required course content and uses it as the basis for teaching her students the necessary skills to be successful, not only in the Psychology Honours program, but in all aspects of their academic endeavours.
Professor Mark Julien
Department of Organizational Behaviour, Human Resources, Entrepreneurship and Ethics, Faculty of Business:
Professor Mark Julien received both his Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and Masters of Industrial Relations from Queen’s University, and his PhD in Management from Carleton University.
Professor Julien has several years of private and public sector experience in a variety of human resource functions including training, employment equity/diversity, and recruitment and selection.
Professor Julien has previously taught at both the University of Regina and Carleton University. Throughout his teaching career, he has consistently received very high teaching evaluations from his students and has won several awards for teaching excellence.
Professor Julien’s research interests include management education, alternative work arrangements, balancing work and family, and gender and diversity with a special interest in Aboriginal issues in the workplace. He has published in Leadership Quarterly, Public Administration Quarterly and International Journal of Wine Business Research.