2017 Teaching Excellence Award winners announced

Prof. Rod Wood and Mr. Ryan Clements recognized.

Alexandra Saikaley - 03 May 2017

UAlberta Law is pleased to announce that Professor Roderick J Wood is the 2017 recipient of the Hon. Tevie H. Miller Teaching Excellence Award, and Mr. Ryan Clements is the 2017 recipient of the Pringle/Royal Sessional Teaching Excellence Award.

Dean Paton spoke about teaching excellence at the Faculty.

"UAlberta Law has a well deserved reputation for teaching excellence, as reflected by both the number of university-wide teaching awards with which our faculty has been recognized, as well as external recognitions such as the Brightspace Award Professor Peter Sankoff received last year for innovation. Our internal awards at the Faculty are a chance to celebrate both our regular faculty and the many sessional instructors drawn from the Alberta legal community. All of this year's nominees were praised for their innovation, passion and commitment to their teaching and to the personal and professional success of their students. The Faculty's recent strategic plan review emphasized the importance of sustaining excellence in both research and teaching, and this year's recipients both continue in that fine tradition," said Dean Paul Paton.

The Tevie Miller Award is named in honour of the late Justice Tevie Harold Miller, Associate Chief Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench (1984-1993), and a former Chancellor of the University of Alberta. The annual award recognizes excellence in teaching by a full-time member of the Faculty. The award was established in 1998 by the Faculty and the Alumni & Friends of the Faculty of Law Association.

The Pringle/Royal Sessional Teaching Excellence Award was established in 2005 to recognize excellence in teaching by a sessional instructor who teaches at UAlberta Law. In 2013, the award was named in honour of two instructors, the late Alex Pringle, Q.C., and Peter Royal, Q.C., both of whom previously won the award.

Prof. Wood is now a two-time recipient (2004) of this award, and he was also previously awarded the Rutherford Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (2005) and a McCalla Professorship (2006). The Hon. Tevie H. Miller Teaching Excellence Award is testament to Prof. Wood's commitment to innovative and continuous improvement in teaching.

Prof. Wood said that he was "deeply honoured to receive this prestigious award" and "felt very lucky to be working in a law school that has so many talented and dedicated teachers." He also wanted to extend his gratitude "to the many students who have made my experience of teaching both enjoyable and rewarding over the years."

Prof. Wood's philosophy of teaching is shaped by two ideas, the first of which is backward design. When designing a course, he determines what he wants the students to know by the end of it, and then plans lessons in accordance with that objective. The second idea pertains to expanding his techniques of teaching and assessing, most recently through the incorporation of experiential learning and student response systems into several of his courses.

Recent recipients of the Hon. Tevie H. Miller Teaching Excellence Award include Tamara Buckwold (2016), Mitchell McInnes (2015), and Bruce Ziff (2014).

Mr. Clements is a first time nominee of this award, and received praise for his teaching in entrepreneurial law. Students noted that the material was especially challenging, but Mr. Clements instructed in a way that made it understandable. Mr. Clements' students said that his lectures were fun and engaging, and his positive attitude and clarity of thought translated into clear lessons. As a graduate of this faculty, Mr. Clements will be pursuing his LLM at Duke Law next year on a merit scholarship.

Mr. Clements said the following about receiving the award:

"It's an honor to receive this award. I'm sincerely grateful to be able to teach at such a wonderful school. I want to thank the Faculty and Administration for their continuing support, and most of all, I'm grateful to have such engaging, driven and intelligent students who make my job as a sessional instructor very fulfilling."

Mr. Clements' philosophy of teaching and learning is inspired by his late father in law's influence on the field of education. Mr. Clements describes his teaching efforts as a "bricolage of the efforts that have gone before [him]". His teaching philosophy includes encouraging participation, challenging assumptions, using comedy, knowing the content, having a real enthusiasm for the subject matter, motivating students to seek depth in their understanding, and being approachable to the students. He, too, understands and appreciates the importance of experiential teaching methods.

Recent recipients of the Pringle/Royal Sessional Teaching Excellence Award include Doug Peterson (2016), Karen Hewitt, Q.C. (2015), and Naomi Schmold (2014).

The award presentation will take place in the fall semester. All students and colleagues are invited and encouraged to attend.

Congratulations to Prof. Wood and Mr. Clements, and to the other finalists: Professors Richard Bauman and James Muir (Tevie Miller Award); and Justices Kevin Feehan, Tom Rothwell and Bonnie Bokenfohr (Pringle/Royal Award).