Three University of Saskatchewan (USask) faculty members are being celebrated for their dedication to student engagement and learning through the new Lieutenant Governor’s Post-Secondary Teaching Award—the first provincial award of its kind in Saskatchewan.
The 2023/24 award recipients from USask are Dr. Loleen Berdahl (PhD), Dr. Simonne Horwitz (DPhil), and Dr. Cheryl Troupe (PhD).
“Congratulations to these outstanding educators who are making a positive impact in the lives of our undergraduate and graduate students. Your innovations in teaching and learning are inspired and inspiring,” said Professor Airini, USask’s provost and vice-president academic.
“Thank you for the vitally important work you do each day in support of our university’s teaching and learning mission. Our University Plan 2025 includes the bold ambition to be a university that sets the standard for learning. You remind us that excellence in university teaching is what the world needs. Through your endeavours, and those of all educators at USask, we foster engaged USask learners who have the passion, respect, and creativity to be leaders today and into the future.”
The new Lieutenant Governor’s Post-Secondary Teaching Award, which was announced in June 2023, will now be awarded annually to educators from publicly funded post-secondary institutions in Saskatchewan to recognize excellence in teaching and commitment to delivering high-quality education. The award will also support post-secondary educators in the province as they compete for national teaching awards and national recognition.
Post-secondary faculty and staff members can nominate individuals from their own institution or from other eligible institutions for the award. This year, 27 nominations were received. In total, there were four inaugural recipients of the Lieutenant Governor’s Post-Secondary Teaching Award in four categories; this includes the three USask recipients as well as Dr. Amber Fletcher (PhD), from the University of Regina, who was honoured in the Innovative Teaching Award category.
Nominations for 2024/25 will be accepted between May 1 and June 30, 2024.
Dr. Loleen Berdahl – Distinguished Teaching Award
Dr. Loleen Berdahl (PhD) received the Distinguished Teaching Award, which recognizes a distinguished individual who shows commitment to teaching and student success, excellence in teaching practices that reflect the highest standards of andragogy (adult learning), a record of outstanding teaching effectiveness, effective course design or program development, and the ability to foster critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.
“I feel very humbled to be the inaugural Distinguished Teaching Award recipient,” said Berdahl, a professor in the Department of Political Studies in USask’s College of Arts and Science, and the executive director of the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy.
“I have been at USask since 2008, and teaching and educational leadership have been a great joy for me over the past 15 years,” she said. “Receiving the Lieutenant Governor’s Post-Secondary Teaching Award is a true honour.”
A nomination letter in support of Berdahl cited her innovation and leadership in teaching and learning and her unique approach to student interaction, which “begins from a place of empathy that meets students where they are ‘at’ to help them discover where they want to go.”
Berdahl has been credited with helping to transform first-year courses into active research spaces and has been described as “a proven trailblazer” in her work to advance skills training for post-secondary students. This includes her role in 2019/20 as a Faculty Fellow at the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning, where she led a project to identify strategies to enhance career training among graduate students. She also co-authored the book Work Your Career: Get What you Want from Your Social Sciences or Humanities PhD, which was published in 2018.
Berdahl has previously been honoured with numerous awards for teaching, including the University of Saskatchewan Provost’s Award for Outstanding New Teacher; the University of Saskatchewan Provost’s Award for Outstanding Teaching in the College of Arts and Science, Division of Social Science; the College of Arts and Science Teaching Excellence Award, Division of Social Sciences; the University of Saskatchewan Master Teacher Award; the Canadian Political Science Association Prize for Teaching Excellence; and the American Political Science Association Excellence in Mentoring Award.
As a university educator, Berdahl considers her own experiences as an undergraduate student and views undergraduate education as “a period of discovery.”
“My goal as a teacher is to help students get closer to identifying and developing their interests and skills. This means that I need to balance exposing them to content knowledge with providing them with opportunities to engage with and develop the skills that are used in my discipline,” she said.
“By giving them these opportunities, they can discover if political science is an area of high interest or low interest for them, and they can discover if the skills developed in political science are areas they want to develop.”
Dr. Simonne Horwitz – Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Teaching Award
Dr. Simonne Horwitz (DPhil) received the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Teaching Award, which recognizes an individual who promotes and advances the principles of equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility in teaching and learning. Individuals nominated for this award should demonstrate a proven commitment to respect and inclusivity in instructional practice and in utilizing intercultural communication in all learning environments.
“I was incredibly honoured and grateful to my nominators and all those who took the time to write me references, and really grateful to the university for putting me forward,” said Horwitz, an associate professor in the Department of History in the College of Arts and Science. “It is a difficult time for many in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and being recognized for my work and advocacy for queer students at this time was really meaningful to me.”
Horwitz has previously been celebrated for her dedication to students and learning at USask. For example, she introduced a Taught Abroad trip to South Africa in 2010 and received the J.W. George Ivany Internationalization Award for Faculty in 2020. Her teaching explores key concepts of colonialism and places North American experiences within a comparative context with Africa, including South Africa. Earlier this year, Horwitz was honoured with the Provost’s College Award for Outstanding Teaching, following the Provost’s Award for International Teaching in 2013, the Provost’s Award for Outstanding New Teacher in 2011, and the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union (USSU) Teaching Excellence Award in 2016/17 and 2008/09.
Horwitz continually looks for new ways to decolonize her classroom and support Indigenous students, and she will teach in the Indigenous Student Achievement Pathways (ISAP) program in the College of Arts and Science this coming year. She strives to create an accountable and inclusive learning environment for all students. A nomination letter in support of Horwitz notes her approach to equity, diversity, and inclusion is holistic, focusing not just on students but on the entire teaching community.
Horwitz’s teaching philosophy is based on four principles that are rooted in anti-racist and social justice-based work. She aims to engage students in the study of history by encouraging them to connect history to current issues.
“I believe strongly that education is about more than the course content but is key to preparing the students to be active, engaged global citizens,” Horwitz said.
“Second, I endeavour to create an environment where students can develop research and analytical skills and critical thinking. Thirdly, I strive to provide an educational setting that encourages excellence, responsibility, and hard work. At the same time, I strive to empower my students to achieve to the best of their ability and give them the tools to access the help and support they need to meet these expectations.
“Finally, I consciously aim to be a role model for queer and neurodiverse students, as well as those living with mental illnesses, and make my classroom a safe, accountable, empowering environment in which all students can thrive. I want diverse groups of students to see themselves in my classroom.”
Dr. Cheryl Troupe – Indigenous Teaching Excellence Award
Dr. Cheryl Troupe (PhD) received the Indigenous Teaching Excellence Award, which recognizes a First Nations, Métis, or Inuit educator who maintains a mastery of subject areas and has made a significant impact to curricula with the inclusion of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit content, perspectives, and ways of knowing. An individual nominated for this award will be recognized by students, staff, and community members as an exemplary Indigenous educator who demonstrates exceptional commitment to lifelong learning and andragogical engagement and teaching, fosters pathways to student success, acknowledges the importance of Indigenous language revitalization, and impacts systemic changes by exemplary teaching and leadership.
“I am very honoured to be receiving this award. It is a recognition of the hard work of uplifting Indigenous voices in the classroom and in creating safe, inclusive spaces for critical conversations about Indigenous history and Canada’s colonial past,” said Troupe, an assistant professor in the Department of History in the College of Arts and Science.
Troupe is a citizen of the Métis Nation - Saskatchewan and a member of Gabriel Dumont Local #11 in Saskatoon. Her research focuses on 20th-century Métis communities in Western Canada, primarily on Métis road allowance communities and Métis movement and displacement to Prairie urban centres. She serves as the director of the Department of History’s Co-Lab (Centre for Community-Engaged and Collaborative Historical Research) and works in the department’s Historical Geographic Information Systems Laboratory. A nomination letter in support of Troupe notes her “contagious passion for history and research, particularly in enlarging, and often correcting, what is known of Indigenous Peoples’ histories, cultures, and contributions to Canada.”
In 2022, Troupe was awarded more than $28,000 through Research Junction—an innovative collaboration between USask and the City of Saskatoon—for a project that will include contributions from academics, civic staff, and Métis citizens to trace the Métis presence and placemaking in Saskatoon since the mid-1800s. Troupe and a senior undergraduate student will conduct oral history interviews with Elders and other Métis persons who have lived in Saskatoon for most of their lives and who have been active in the community.
Troupe said she prioritizes Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing in her teaching.
“I seek to advance reconciliation and decolonization by weaving Indigenous voices, perspectives, and worldviews in all my courses. I do this by incorporating Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers directly in the classroom and through experiential learning opportunities, course readings, lectures, and assignments,” she said.
“I strive to bring my community-engaged research experience into the classroom and encourage deep learning that promotes reflection and produces critical and creative thinkers so that students have the tools to understand historical and contemporary social and political issues.”