Congratulations to the 2022 Cormack Teaching Award winners

October 28, 2022

This year, six faculty members from Simon Fraser University's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) have been honoured with the Cormack Teaching Award.  

Established by former FASS Dean Lesley Cormack in 2010, the award celebrates excellence and innovation in teaching throughout the Faculty. The award recognizes the passion that our teaching faculty bring to the classroom, the quality of their pedagogy, and the value they bring to their students’ education and to the FASS teaching community at-large.

As part of this recognition, the award winners gave a brief presentation on their pedagogy and teaching philosophy at the 11th annual Cormack Teaching Symposium, which took place virtually on October 25. 

Congratulations to all of the award winners!  

Heather Bliss

Heather Bliss is a lecturer at the Department of Linguistics where she currently serves as the Graduate Studies Chair. She works closely with Indigenous communities throughout Alberta and BC for her research which focuses on Indigenous language documentation, analysis, and revitalization. 

Since 2003, Heather Bliss has been working with members of the Siksiká and Kainai communities on documenting and analyzing the Blackfoot language. Her dedication to Indigenous language revitalization has led her to work closely with Indigenous communities in developing pronunciation training tools for language learners. She joined SFU as a continuing faculty member in 2018. 

As an instructor and cohort coordinator in the Graduate Certificate in Indigenous Languages and Linguistics program, Bliss effectively and respectfully taught writing skills to her cohort of 16 Indigenous students from diverse backgrounds. She supported them in articulating their own Indigenous voices and experiences as they explored research on Indigenous languages, culture and cognition.

Her nominator, professor Marianne Ignace, commends Bliss' teaching skills and her commitment in educating her students on the knowledge and understanding of the plight of Indigenous languages linguistically, culturally and historically. Ignace describes Bliss as having made "very important contributions as a teacher to the path of truth and reconciliation our university has embarked on". 

"Relationality as a Pedagogical Principle and Practice"

Suzanna Crage

Suzanna Crage is a university lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. She became a continuing faculty member in 2015. She centres student wellbeing as a core pedagogical principle across face-to-face, online and blended formats, and develops pedagogical strategies that improve rigour in compassionate ways. She draws on sociology to engage with the complexities of student needs, university policies and guidelines, and what makes good teaching.

Never to shy away from trying out new pedagogical methods, in 2019 Suzanna Crage was one of the early adopters of invigorated online course delivery methods, as part of the first term that piloted a new model for online teaching at Simon Fraser University.

According to her nominator, senior lecturer Amanda Watson, Crage has redeveloped the core of the department's methods training. She anchors her teaching of quantitative methods by "inspiring students to think critically about data and questions with myriad (humorous and memorable) real-world examples".

Her expertise in innovative teaching methods has been of great benefit to both her students and her colleagues. Her nominator notes that Crage generously served as point person for technical and pedagogical questions when the university pivoted to remote instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Her research has focused on how cultural and structural forces combine with idiosyncratic contexts to shape the rights and strategies of social groups. This includes explaining how an annual parade became a rallying tool for gay rights, comparing refugee policy development across German cities, and evaluating how consumerism may be affecting student attitudes toward higher education.

*Crage will give her presentation at a future Cormack Teaching Symposium. 

Nicolas Kenny

Nicolas Kenny is a professor at the Department of History where his primary research interests lie in the cultural history of cities, specifically in the way people imagine, represent, and live in their unique atmospheres.  

As part of the French Cohort Program in Public and International Affairs (FCP), Nicolas Kenny teaches and conducts research on  issues surrounding Canada’s linguistic diversity, specifically on the history of British Columbia's Francophone community.

Kenny became a continuing faculty member at SFU in 2008. 

Students praise Kenny's knowledge, passion, and constructive feedback. A distinguishing feature in his teaching has been his commitment to community engagement and active learning, which he incorporates into his teaching approaches. In his courses, Kenny includes components such as walking tours, museum visits, film screenings, and talks by guest lecturers.

"Teaching In Situ"

Martin Santamaria

Martin Santamaria is a lecturer in the Department of Economics. He describes his teaching style as approachable but rigorous and with emphasis on connecting teaching materials to real-world phenomena. 

Known for his dedicated focus to the student experience, Santamaria became a continuing faculty member in 2018. He regularly teaches some of the department's highest-enrollment and most demanding courses with great skill and compassion. 

In her nomination, professor and department chair Anke Kessler notes that since Santamaria joined the department in 2018, he has "proven to be invaluable both as instructor for many of our core courses but also as a resource to support student learning and shaping the department’s approach to instruction".  

Despite the challenging materials in his courses, the feedback from students has been consistently positive — a testament to Santamaria's teaching skills and his ability to push students to the best of their academic potential. 

"Why teaching matters"

Rylan SImpson

Rylan Simpson joined the School of Criminology in 2019 as an assistant professor. He conducts research focused on policing, and the results of his research have impacted police departments' policies and practices around the world. 

One of Simpson's students praised his dedication in providing a positive student learning experience, notably during the COVID-19 pandemic when instructors had to quickly transition their curriculum into an online format. Determined to incorporate community engagement elements into his classes, Simpson went out of his way to record interviews with his guest panels of policing representatives so that students could have the same comparative experience as his in-person course offering. 

The student nominator also goes on to say that Simpson "displays an ability to present complex information in an engaging and clear manner that fosters critical thinking". Feedback from his introductory research methods course show that students appreciate the way he goes to great lengths to break down challenging concepts using practical techniques to accommodate different learning styles. 

"Passion for Learning through Practice"

luke clossey

Luke Clossey is an associate professor in the Department of History. As a world historian specializing in religion, his research seeks to spotlight, and challenge, the modernist and Eurocentric values and assumptions that underlie our common sense today.

Students have called Luke Clossey a passionate, enthusiastic, and engaging instructor. 

His nominator, professor and department chair Jeremy Brown, seconds this by describing him as a "a highly innovative teacher whose creative and experimental approaches to pedagogy engage and involve students in the learning process at all steps and levels".

As a world historian specializing in religion, Clossey sees the classroom as an opportunity to open his students' eyes to the diverse and unique worldviews from the past. His dedication to teaching can be seen in his three Teaching + Learning Development Grants (TLDG), his multiple talks about pedagogy, and his many publications on the subject. Clossey also acts as a mentor to his students in nurturing their academic potential and has been highly sought after as a supervisor for directed readings.  

Clossey joined SFU as a continuing faculty member in 2004. 

"Learning to think pragmatically through learning"