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Students speak with passion about recipients of Teaching Excellence Award

Posted by Sonya Jampolsky on February 12, 2024 in News, Awards

Bill Black, Lorraine Black, Maria Pacurar, Aryan Chawla, and Renee Black

A room full of professors, staff, students, and guests heard a long and detailed list of reasons why the recipients of this year’s Teaching Excellence Awards were chosen. The event, sponsored by the Black Family Foundation, is in its 20th year and the three students introducing faculty spent little time on the usual accolades.

Amongst the descriptions of therapy dogs, donut days, and creating a positive environment, the audience learned how Tammy Crowell, Maria Pacurar, and Philippe Mongeon have made lasting impressions on their students.

She (Maria Pacurar) nurtures curiosity

Poppy Riddle (MI’22), who went from her master's into a PhD, talks about her thesis supervisor, Philippe Mongeon, this way: “He encourages us as students to embrace the role of scholar, which I think was always seen as this other sort of identity.” (Pictured right: Phillipe Mongeon and Poppy Riddle)

Riddle continues with comments from students who could not be present. Reading Jordan’s email she says, “he helped me and others navigate the treacherous world of grant applications,” adding, “his enthusiasm was infectious, transforming my feelings of doubt into feelings of excitement. It seems to me there is nothing else he would like to be doing other than helping a student engage and experiment with their ideas in their research.”

Aryan Chawla, who is finishing his BComm, says Maria Pacurar’s curiosity is infectious, she nurtures curiosity. He adds, “She has guest speakers, millions of them. She always finds brilliant people.” Chawla chuckles when he says, “her humour is very underappreciated in class.”

‘The bottom line is I care about my students’

Bill Black, who attended the award ceremony with his family, insists that the award money is not to be used for research. “Have fun with it, you deserve it,” he says. Reflecting on his own professors, he adds, “I had some lousy ones, and I had some great ones… This is to celebrate the ones that are excellent.”

Stephanie Wooden, also in the final year of her BComm, says she has taken three courses from Tammy Crowell. What impresses Wooden is that in addition to creating a welcoming and open environment, Crowell has “gotten extra certifications to really help her students learn and understand what’s happening in the industry.”

Maria Pacurar, who says her thoughts on teaching have changed since she started two decades ago, knows how important it is for the students to feel that you care. Crowell echoes Pacurar’s sentiments. She says, “The bottom line is that I like being in the classroom, I care about my students, and I have a lot of fun with it.”

Tammy Crowell (holding award) with colleagues and students