Principal’s Awards Reception 2015

group of adults with awards smile at the camera
Thursday, December 3, 2015 - 12:18pm
Blake Eligh

A commitment to excellence was recognized Nov. 30 at the 2015 Principal’s Awards Reception Nov. 30 in the Faculty Club. Ulli Krull, acting vice-president of U of T and principal of U of T Mississauga, joined students and colleagues in celebrating staff and faculty recipients for their contributions to teaching, research and staff service at the university.

Krull congratulated the winners, lauding them for their commitment to learning and outstanding work at UTM. “These individuals are chosen by their peers, ” Krull told the audience. “It’s a selection of our heroes and the ideals we strive for here at UTM.”

Excellent teachers are created, in part, by their students, Krull said. “You develop your teaching style and those communication skill by paying close attention to the audience receiving that information and adapting to what that audience needs to succeed,” he said. “That’s really what distinguishes a great teacher—responding to what the outcome needs to be, and adapting to create that outcome. “

Language studies professor Katherine Rehner was recognized for her progressive approach to pedagogy. “Her passion for teaching and understanding the student learning process is evident and unparalled,” said department chair Emmanuel Nikiema, noting Rehner’s dedication to peer-based learning and encouragement of critical thinking in her classroom.

Psychology professor Robert Gerlai and philosophy professor Diana Raffman were recognized for excellence in research. “When we think about the Research Excellence Award, we recognize those who have taken a big step from creativity towards innovation,” Krull said. “Virtually everyone is creative, but innovation happens when a creative idea is translated into something that is practical and useful for someone. There is a community of scholars who are using the innovative ideas to build and push forward their own work.”

Raffman was recognized for her philosophical research on diverse topics, including music, the concept of vagueness, and her influential work on perception and consciousness.

Gerlai noted that a recent trip to Brazil had revealed the far-reaching impact of research. “Students at other institutions learn from our publications and continue where we left off,” Gerlai said. “Our work makes a difference for them and for the wider scientific community. This is what motivates me, and invigorates me.”

While the work of Gerlai and Raffman is internationally significant in their impact, Krull noted that excellence was also evident closer to home. Samantha Mahabir and Jade Attallah were recognized for excellence in their work as teaching assistants. “They’ve asked themselves what they can do to make an educational experience exciting and fulfilling. Today, we celebrate two teaching assistants who have really done that well,” Krull said.

Visual studies undergraduate counselor Stephanie Sullivan was presented with a staff service award. “Steph is, without a doubt, a ‘student whisperer’ and proactive counsellor who listens to students and anticipates their needs,” said department chair Alison Syme. “She has profoundly touched students lives and enabled their success. Students feel safe talking to Steph. They know she is there to support them, even though she holds them to the highest standards. That trust is shared by staff and faculty.”