From left to right: Dr. Rodney Schmaltz, Jacqueline Baker, Dr. Susan Mills and Dr. Ion Bica

This year’s Distinguished Teaching Award recipients are...

April 25, 2019 | Society, Science, Campus Life
As a teaching-focused university, MacEwan’s faculty members are the heartbeat of the institution.

Every year, students, staff and faculty are given the opportunity to recognize that dedication to teaching by submitting nominations for the Distinguished Teaching Awards. The award recognizes outstanding teaching at the undergraduate level and commitment to educational leadership by furthering the university’s educational goals.

The 2019 recipients have just been announced, and the university community is thrilled to share their selections: Jacqueline Baker (assistant professor, English), Dr. Ion Bica (associate professor, math and stats), Dr. Susan Mills (associate professor, philosophy) and Dr. Rodney Schmaltz (associate professor, psychology).

“So many of our faculty members’ achievements at MacEwan University reflect their ongoing commitment to students, but none so much so as our Distinguished Teaching Awards, where student initiative in nominating instructors provides the foundation for the milestone itself,” says Dr. Craig Monk, provost and vice-president, Academic. “The remarkable cohort of winners this year is defined by a common approach across very different fields: a commitment to engage students inside the classroom and beyond it.”

The awards will be presented during the university’s spring convocation ceremonies in June.

About this year’s recipients

Jacqueline Baker, Assistant Professor, English

Jacqueline Baker joined MacEwan University’s Department of English in 2013 as a specialist in creative writing. Her areas of expertise include European and Southern Gothic, the ghost story, horror (film and literature), contemporary literature and Canadian Literature.

She is an accomplished writer who served as MacEwan’s writer in residence in 2006. She is currently researching Eastern European folklore and the history of the undead, magic and necromancy for a new novel, The Revivalist, as well as working on a non-fiction book that is a union of memoir, literary criticism and Franco-Canadian history.

Dr. Ion Bica, Associate Professor, Math and Stats

Dr. Ion Bica received his PhD at the University of Alberta, and has been at MacEwan University since 2000. He is active in teaching, research and service activities. He enjoys teaching mathematics from the precalculus level up to the 400 level, and is passionate about sharing the beauty of mathematics at any stage of a student’s academic development. He also engages students in research projects, many of which have been presented at MacEwan’s Student Research Day.

His expertise is in teaching differential equations, and how they help in modelling and understanding our reality. His research interests include differential equations, nonlinear waves and applications of differential equations in biology, conservation biology and population ecology.

Dr. Susan Mills, Associate Professor, Philosophy

Dr. Susan Mills’s main area of interest is in early modern philosophy, particularly the metaphysics and epistemology of the early modern period. She has a special interest in the philosophy of René Descartes, examining his medical philosophy in light of his claims regarding health and teleology (the explanation of phenomena in terms of their purpose rather than their cause). That research is part of a bigger-picture project concerning issues of life, health and teleology in the history of philosophy. Traces of those issues can be found in her other research and teaching interests, which include the philosophy of death and ancient philosophy.

In her classes, she strives to clarify core concepts of philosophy without sacrificing their complexity so that students can grasp how various philosophical ideas fit (or don't fit) together in a bigger whole.

Dr. Rodney Schmaltz, Associate Professor, Psychology

Dr. Rodney Schmaltz's research focuses on pseudoscientific thinking, with an emphasis on strategies to promote and teach scientific skepticism. He wants to better understand why people believe in strange things like ghosts, aliens or psychic powers and find strategies to help combat these beliefs. His research interests also include workplace productivity and self-control, with a focus on evidence-based approaches to improve performance and reduce common workplace and student stressors.

He is the past chair of the university’s Research Ethics Board and continues to work with government agencies on topics such as ethics review in emergency situations and the role of lay representatives in government organizations, such as funding agencies and ethics review boards.

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