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Two faculty members win provincial teaching awards

Professors Clare Hasenkampf (above) and Steve Joordens are winners of the LIFT awards for teaching. (Photos by Ken Jones.)

LIFT awards recognize some of province’s best faculty

Two faculty members at the University of Toronto Scarborough are winners of the province’s inaugural Leadership in Faculty Teaching (LIFT) awards, designed to recognize and encourage teaching excellence at Ontario’s colleges and universities.

Biology professor Clare Hasenkampf, Interim Director of Teaching and Learning Services, and psychology professor Steve Joordens, are among the 14 faculty members at the University of Toronto to receive these prestigious new awards.

“Faculty who go the extra mile to provide college and university students with an outstanding learning experience should be recognized for their teaching,” said Chris Bentley, Ontario minister of training, colleges and universities.

In the citations, Hasenkampf is described as, “a creative and enthusiastic instructor who is passionate about her material.” Joordens is described as having “the remarkable ability to stimulate students to think critically and creatively about what they are learning.”

Any student or faculty member at an Ontario college or university could nominate a teacher for consideration. Those chosen were selected for their success in influencing, motivating and inspiring students and demonstrating leadership in teaching methods for the diverse student body in Ontario. The recipients each receive $20,000 over two years to encourage continued excellence in the classroom setting.

Asked about her reaction to the award, Hasenkampf said. “I am absolutely thrilled. I also feel a lot of gratitude to the student who took the time to put forward the nomination. It makes me hope I can live up to the award.”

Hasenkampf describes her approach to teaching as follows: “I try to make my teaching topics exciting so that it will be easier for students to maintain interest and do the hard work of learning. I try to think of ways to make these tough spots a little easier. I don’t try to make the concepts or process look easy because they are not – biological processes are wondrous in their complexity and there is so much for scientists yet to learn.”

She said she feels “very honoured” to have won the award. “I am going to work hard to try to be worthy of the award, being a good teacher and providing leadership to the many teachers at U of T Scarborough who are striving to facilitate learning among our students.”

Joordens said he is also delighted with the news. “I have come to consider the teaching aspect of my job the most important in terms of the privilege I am given to influence young people,” said Joordens. “I take this privilege very seriously, and I am rewarded on a regular basis by comments from the students themselves. To have my teaching recognized on a provincial level is truly an honour that is both humbling and extremely gratifying.”

Asked about his approach to teaching, Joordens responded, “Like many other professors on this campus, I try to convey to my students that I truly care about them becoming better thinkers and communicators. Given this, I like to take ‘academic’ material and highlight its relevance for day-to-day life, whether that relevance be at the personal, national or world level. The students need to know that the things they are learning are valuable, and that the information they get is just the first step. The second and more important step is the way they use that information to arrive at their own opinions and actions.”

Both Hasenkampf and Joordens plan to use some of the funds for professional development such as conferences or online courses.

Other University of Toronto winners are: Derek Allen, Department of Philosophy; Zubin Austin, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy; Ken Bartlett, Department of History and Victoria College; Kirk Blankstein, Department of Psychology; Yu-Ling Cheng, Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering; Robert Campbell, formerly of the Department of Humanities, U of T Scarborough; Corey Goldman, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Daniel Heath Justice, Department of English; Scott Mabury, Department of  Chemistry; Dwayne Miller, Department of Chemistry; Judith Poë, Department of Chemical and Physical Sciences, U of T Mississauga ; and Janice Gross Stein, Department of Political Science.

by Elaine Smith (with files from Mary Ann Gratton)

© University of Toronto Scarborough