Copyright © 2019 Federation of Students, University of Waterloo operating as Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association
WUSA Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award
The Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA) Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award is presented every year to professors who have demonstrated an outstanding contribution to undergraduate student learning. The WUSA Teaching Award recognizes non-conventional teaching techniques, opportunities for experiential learning, and a long-term commitment and dedication towards ensuring academic success for undergraduate students.
This is the only award awarded by the University of Waterloo Senate selected entirely by undergraduate students: the instructor is nominated by a student, is then endorsed by their class of students, and finally the WUSA Teaching Award Selection Committee who makes the final decision is comprised of students (the Undergraduate Student Senators, the WUSA Vice-President Education, and the WUSA Academic Affairs Commissioner).
Is there a teacher who has inspired you this term? Check out the criteria below and complete the nomination form to celebrate great teaching at the University of Waterloo.
The following three categories are considered during the selection process for the WUSA Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award:
The delivery of course content and presentation of material is engaging and useful to the student. This can include anything from excelling in a traditional lecture style, to incorporating discussions for a seminar-format class, to the use of innovative and unique technologies for presenting material to students in an engaging way.
Commitment to Student Success:
The instructor is conscious and considerate of student well-being and is eager to aid students in ways which set them up for success. This can include being attentive to student needs and accommodations, helping students plan for future degrees or employment opportunities, or pointing students toward extra resources which will help students develop skills and excel in their personal, professional, and academic goals.
Looking Beyond the Classroom:
Opportunities which allow students to work with or apply course materials outside of the classroom are available. This includes experiential learning opportunities, field trips, participation in events and extracurricular activities which provide students with the opportunity to engage with materials outside of a lecture, lab, tutorial, etc.
The nomination deadline is the second Friday in February. The winners are announced at the March meeting of Senate and awards will be presented at the Annual President’s Reception for Excellence in Teaching and Research in April.
Nominate a teacher today!
2019 Award Winners
Congratulations to the winners of the 2019 WUSA Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award: Steve Balaban, lecturer at the School of Accounting & Finance, and Dr. Brenda Lee, part-time lecturer at the Faculty of Mathematics as well as a postdoctoral research associate at the Faculty of Science.
The WUSA Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award is based solely on student nominations and feedback, showing the impact the recipients have had on their students. Namely, Steve Balaban is considered an inspiration to his students. His most endearing quality as an instructor is that he prepares them to face the outside world with immense confidence. He creates an atmosphere that not only strengthens students’ understanding of course material, but provides them with the opportunity to develop skills they will need to thrive in the workplace. He’s “passionate, enthusiastic, engaging” and one student noted that his classes are “something to look forward to during the course of my week” because of his interactive teaching style. “Besides being an absolute rock star of a prof, he is deeply respected by his students because he takes an interest in getting to know each and every one of them.” Steve Balaban is a mentor to his students and sincerely cares for them since his “ability to connect with each one of us makes it interesting to come to class.” The admiration students expressed for him as well as his teaching style and commitment to helping students grow personally, academically and professionally made him a clear choice as one of this year’s award recipients.
The feedback that Dr. Lee received was astounding and expressed great appreciation for her. The effort she puts into her courses as well as the undivided attention she gives to her students does not go unnoticed. Many students described her lectures as “stellar, a blessing, unique, impeccable, engaging, relatable, amazing, perfect” and praised her for her commitment to student success stating that she “will stop at nothing to make sure topics make the most sense to everybody.” Dr. Lee not only wants her students to succeed academically, she genuinely cares for their wellbeing. Her compassionate and caring personality is truly valued by every student who gave their feedback. She is “considerate, supportive, optimistic and her encouraging attitude makes her the best professor we’ve ever had.” As one student aptly put it: “I would one hundred percent endorse her for the award. There’s no one else in my mind who is more suited for this award than Brenda Lee!”
Dr. Brenda Lee was also the recipient of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance’s (OUSA) Teaching Excellence Award (External link). Each OUSA member school presents a faculty member from their respective institution with a Teaching Excellence Award. The award recipient is selected based on OUSA’s yearly priorities and is presented at the organization’s Partners in Higher Education Dinner at the end of the winter term.
Previous winners of the WUSA Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award:
Dr. Chris Vigna
Dr. Chad Wriglesworth and Dr. Norm Klassen
Dr. Frankie Condon
Prof. Rohan Jayasundera
Dr. Josh D. Neufeld
Dr. Chad Wriglesworth
Dr. Gordon Stubley
Dr. Mark Seasons
Professor Doug Kirton
Please contact WUSA’s Academic Affairs Commissioner for the names of previous recipients prior to the last 10 years.