Few awards show students' appreciation more than the University of Calgary Teaching Excellence Awards.
On April 4, 23 professors from 11 faculties were honoured at the annual TEA ceremonies. Proud winners and their families munched on the fruits of a snack buffet as members of the Student Academic Assembly bestowed mugs, certificates and portfolios on those favoured by student opinion.
"There is an increased focus on research and a reduced attention on teaching in the Alberta post-secondary system, which is hard on teachers," said Students' Union Vice-president Academic Mark Hoekstra in his opening remarks. "Despite this, many of you here tonight have continued to inspire students, and you should be commended for that."
The TEA committee receives nominations from students twice a year, explained TEA Committee Chair and VP Academic-elect Nic Porco. Once those have been received, surveys are distributed to the classes taught by the nominated professors. The surveys gather student feedback and ratings of the professor's general performance and are returned to the TEA committee for evaluation.
"Faculties tend to give out teaching awards, but they're based on peer evalutation, not students," said Porco. "I think it's very important to professors that students think they deserve these awards. The students see these profs for an entire semester and it's of immense value to the profs to have this respect from the people they teach." This sentiment was echoed by recipients of this year's TEAs.
"This is certainly one of the highlights of my career to date here at the U of C," said Management TEA winner Carol Stewart. "I've really been on cloud nine since I received the letter from Nic [Porco] saying I had received the award for the faculty. This really is an honour, because the students are really speaking clearly about what they value."
TEA winner for the faculty of Humanities Vivienne Rundle was similarly appreciative.
"When I started teaching, a colleague told me the secret of success in this job is figuring out who we work for," said an emotional Rundle. "I have always felt I worked for students and this [award] makes me feel really good about that commitment."
While all recipients displayed a similar depth of appreciation, the evening was not without its jocular moments.
"On the survey, one student said that I look like an eagle dipped in fat ," stated a poker-faced Fine Arts Honorable Mention recipient David Bershad. "That's unfortunately quite accurate, and I think I need some liposuction. I like this award, but I think liposuction would be a heck of a lot better."
Porco was pleased with the evening's events, calling the award ceremony the "highlight" of his year.
"I wish the SU could afford to give them [award recipients] more than they do," he mused. "But I'm glad that they're so happy with the awards that we give them."
For a complete list of TEA winners, see page 8.