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Celebrating excellence at Trent University

Every year, Trent University celebrates teaching excellence with awards that honour exceptional contributions to teaching and learning. As the nomination deadline draws near for most of Trent’s teaching awards, it is worth reflecting on what the awards celebrate, and the inspiring educators who were the recipients of the 2015 awards.

As President Leo Groarke noted at the Celebration of Teaching Excellence in April 2015, “You can see what an institution cares about by looking at what it celebrates.”
The Symons Award for Excellence in Teaching is Trent’s most prestigious teaching award, and recognizes faculty and staff members who stand out from others in encouraging learning, bringing unique experiences to the teaching space, challenging students to do their best work, serving as inspiration for students, and demonstrating exemplary concern for students. The 2015 recipient was Marg Hobbs, an Associate Professor in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies.

The teaching and learning interactions that Hobbs shapes at the undergraduate and graduate levels were lauded for their warmth, their rich and diverse content, and their candour, compassion, and creativity.

When her receipt of the award was celebrated, Marg Hobbs described Trent as a place where professors care about students and know their names, and are passionate not only about their scholarship, but also about their teaching.

The Award for Educational Leadership and Innovation recognizes faculty and staff members who make a distinctive impact through their leadership, teaching, innovation, and successful communication of strategies and scholarship related to teaching and learning. The 2015 recipient was Asaf Zohar, an Associate Professor in the Business Administration Program.

At the Celebration of Teaching Excellence, Zohar said that the Award for Educational Leadership and Innovation “is a celebration of Trent’s commitment to finding new ways of bringing our best out in our students.” He was recognized for his successful efforts in a number of areas, including his work in creating innovative experiential education opportunities for Business Administration undergraduate students, and his leadership and vision as the founding director of the Masters of Arts in Sustainability Studies.

The Award for Excellence in Teaching Assistance recognizes teaching assistants who excel at encouraging learning in workshop, tutorial, seminar, laboratory or field settings. The 2015 recipient was Joshua Noiseux, a graduate student teaching assistant in the Department of Political Studies.

Noiseux was honoured for using a variety of teaching methods to enable student participation and success, and for facilitating energetic debate and discussion in seminars that allowed students to carefully consider issues, concepts, and new possibilities.

When presented with his award, Noiseux commented that he always tries “to emphasize the relational interdependence of teaching and learning,” which he sees as a collaborative relationship between his students and himself.

The CUPE 3908-1 Award for Excellence in Teaching is presented to a member of the part-time faculty at Trent University, represented by Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3908 – Unit 1. The award recognizes the positive impact contract instructors have on students and their learning.

The 2015 recipient was Robyne Hanley-Dafoe, who has taught as a contract instructor in the Psychology department since 2007.

She was honoured for the extraordinary effort, enthusiasm, and energy she puts into her teaching, and for the care, passion, and concern she demonstrates for students. When receiving her award, Hanley-Dafoe spoke about the lasting impact that educational experiences can have on teachers and students, and the importance for educators to create positive and memorable learning environments.

To nominate someone for any of the four Trent teaching awards, you can visit The deadline for nominations for three of the awards is January 22, 2016, while the deadline for nominations for the CUPE 3908-1 Award is March 1, 2016.

This year’s Celebration of Teaching Excellence will take place on Thursday, March 31, 2016 from 3:30PM to 5PM in the Great Hall of Champlain College. The event is open to the entire Trent community.


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