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Recipients of Inaugural Distinguished Teaching Awards Announced
March 3, 2007

Professors and Instructors Recognized for Educational Leadership and Innovation in Instruction, and Excellence in Teaching Assistance

Trent University is pleased to announce the recipients of two inaugural teaching awards: the Distinguished Teaching Award for Educational Leadership and Innovation in Instruction has been presented jointly to Professor Margaret Hobbs of the Women’s Studies program and Mary-Jane Pilgrim of the Information Technology Department, and the Distinguished Teaching Award for Excellence in Teaching Assistance has been awarded to John Breukelaar, a senior demonstrator in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Nominations for both distinguished teaching awards were submitted to Trent’s Teaching Awards Sub-committee on behalf of University faculty, staff and graduate student teaching assistants. This is the first year these award have been conferred.

Distinguished Teaching Award for Educational Leadership and Innovation in Instruction

To give recognition to other areas of instruction, especially to the introduction of innovative methods in teaching and leadership in promoting an enhanced learning environment, Trent University has awarded the 2006-2007 Distinguished Teaching Award for Educational Leadership and Innovation in Instruction jointly to Professor Margaret Hobbs and Mary-Jane Pilgrim.

Prof. Hobbs is the chair of the Women’s Studies Program at Trent. She is also a Trent alumna, completing her undergraduate degree in history and Canadian studies at the University in 1980, before going on to do her MA and Ph.D. specializing in Canadian women’s history at the University of Toronto (OISE). Prof. Hobbs has been teaching full-time in the Women’s Studies Program since 1990. For a number of years she was the only faculty fully appointed to the Program (others were cross-appointed). In addition to women’s studies, Prof. Hobbs is also involved with Trent's master's level program in Canadian Studies and Native Studies, and with the Ph.D. program in Canadian Studies.

In addition to her teaching role at the University, this award also recognizes Prof. Hobbs’ connection with communities, and with feminist and social justice movements. Facilitating a link between community-based research and education, Prof. Hobbs’ students have produced some invaluable research for organizations such as OPIRG, KWIC, Kawartha Food Share, Peterborough Social Planning Council, YWCA, New Canadian Centre, Trent Women's Centre, the Women's Health Care Centre, and Community Care in Haliburton. In addition, she was a member of the first management committee of the Trent Centre for Community-Based Education for half a dozen years.

In response to receiving this distinguished teaching award, Prof. Hobbs commented, "I never dreamed I would be a recipient of this award, and I am really thrilled, and also quite humbled, to have been chosen."

As described by her nominators, she is a "passionate and dedicated teacher" who has "constantly demonstrated her heartfelt interest not only for her subject, but also for her students, both as a body and as individuals … Marg stimulates both thought and discussion in all her courses, and has a profound influence upon the young minds, and hearts, that come before her."

The other award recipient is Mary-Jane Pilgrim, a WebCT/eLearning Administrator with Trent’s Information Technology (IT) Department. Ms. Pilgrim is recognized for her work with WebCT. Currently, 32 departments across the University are utilizing WebCT in one or more courses, servicing 7,802 students.

Ms. Pilgrim received her Masters of Education in Instructional Technology from the University of Toronto in 2001, and her Bachelor of Mathematics in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo in 1989. In response to receiving notice of this award distinction, she stated: "I truly believe that technology should only be used in situations where it is useful. We should never use it just because it's technology — however, if it does prove to be useful, it can have a lot of power in helping both the faculty to meet their administrative goals, and also the students as a 24/7 worldwide access to information tool." She further expressed her enjoyment in "working with faculty, staff and students — they're all very good at what they do, they're smart, and they're always striving to reach higher levels of knowledge. I like to think that I have a small part in helping them to get there."

A nominator commented: "Mary-Jane is a life-long learner… I remember when Mary-Jane came back from her studies and especially her enthusiasm and excitement about the possibilities that WebCT could provide instructors at Trent ... This initiative would not have become so popular without Mary Jane’s expertise, enthusiasm and commitment to helping all faculty, staff and students acquire the skills to use this medium effectively... A testimony to her skills, attitude and perseverance is the number of courses that utilize this tool at Trent."

Distinguished Teaching Award for Excellence in Teaching Assistance

Trent University remains proud of its reputation for encouraging learning through the small group where others beyond the course instructor can and often do play an invaluable role. The Distinguished Teaching Award for Excellence in Teaching Assistance acknowledges the contributions of academic assistants, and those who assist in workshop, tutorial, seminar, laboratory, and field settings. An individual may only receive this award once during his or her career.

The inaugural winner of the Distinguished Teaching Award for Excellence in Teaching Assistance is John Breukelaar, a senior demonstrator in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Mr. Breukelaar is recognized for his in-classroom work with all levels of undergraduate students.

Mr. Breukelaar is a Trent alumnus, having completed his Masters of Science from the University in 1983. He started at Trent as a laboratory demonstrator in 1975 and became a senior laboratory demonstrator in the late 1980s.

In response to receiving this award distinction, Mr. Breukelaar stated: "I thank the members of the Physics and Astronomy Department for their strong technical support and many good suggestions. The students have made my job very enjoyable and rewarding."

His nominators noted that Mr. Breukelaar is deserving of the recognition because for "his incredible knowledge and love of the topic, and even more so, for his friendly disposition, and incredible ability to create a warm classroom atmosphere."