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Deans' Teaching Awards: 2008 recipients

Carol Fine
Faculty of Community Services

Professor Carol Fine has been a member of the School of Nursing for 35 years, 18 of which she has served in the role of Associate Director of the Post‐Diploma Program. Over the course of her nursing education career she has had an incredible vision for nursing education. Professor Fine has worked tirelessly with a broad and diverse faculty to plan and deliver education to post‐diploma nurses that is innovative, responsive, accessible, inclusive and exciting. She sees change through the lenses of opportunity. Without fail, she responds to new ideas and challenges with enthusiasm and critical reflection. She inspires others to embrace change and to use it to open doors to new adventures in nursing education. It is this unfailing optimism that has catapulted innumerable initiatives in support of education for nurses and career development and advancement for nurse educators.

Professor Fine has been active and influential in instituting policy changes with the goal of offering nurses quality education that is responsive to their complex lives yet meeting standards of excellence in nursing education and clinical practice. Through her leadership many of the barriers traditionally experienced by nurses who wish to return to school are diminished, if not eliminated. As a result, BScN courses are offered in over 25 practice‐based locations across southern and central Ontario. Her philosophy of inclusive and collaborative partnerships with nursing colleagues, professional practice settings and the Ryerson G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education has fostered the ability of over 2,500 students to be enrolled in baccalaureate nursing education with approximately 350 of nurses graduating with their BScN each year, making Ryerson University the largest Post‐Diploma program in Ontario. It is indisputably the result of Professor Fine’s vibrant leadership that Ryerson’s School of Nursing is one of the most well reputed Post‐ Diploma programs in Canada.

Most importantly, Professor Fine is an exceptional teacher. She is one of the few members of the professoriate who have been recognized as the Ryerson Faculty Association’s Professor of the Year. She is deeply committed to the students with whom she works and, as is evidenced above, has a particular affinity for students who are registered nurses returning to school for a degree. The experience of the student is a consistent focus in Professor Fine’s discussions related to the curriculum, academic policies and the work of the School. Students are vocal in their warm and positive regard for her mentorship, leadership and ability to deal with each student as an individual with important needs and unique career

Stephen Swales
Faculty of Arts

Professor Stephen Swales joined Ryerson in 1989, and very quickly established a reputation for excellence in teaching. Students’ comments referring to Professor Swales teaching include: “I wish he taught more classes so I could take more classes from him” and “there should be more professors like him at Ryerson.” One of his students writes: "Swales was the first professor I have had in university to really spark my interest in a subject. It is because of him that I have continued taking geography classes. He is a genuine professor, who is always available for any questions or concerns the student may need
on the subject."

A colleague remarked: "I have been a faculty member at Ryerson for thirty‐seven years, and have to say that not only do I regard Professor Swales to be perhaps the most outstanding teacher I have encountered in the Geography Department, I can think of few peers across the university through that time.” An international collaborator on distance learning GIS education said this of Professor Swales: "Each UNIGIS Master of Geographic Information Science and Systems module is put together by experts in the field and we were very fortunate to have Stephen onboard. His attention to detail, broad knowledge of the field, and enthusiasm made it a pleasure to work with him."

A former student wrote: “Stephen’s dedication to education – both in and out of the classroom – is exemplified by the manner in which he enthusiastically delivers lectures, by the level of respect that he displays towards students and colleagues alike, and by the way he lends himself to the betterment of those around him. In my eyes Prof. Stephen Swales is truly the face of higher learning and I am honoured to be writing this nomination letter in his regard.”

Professor Swales is a dynamic, engaging lecturer, however it is not just a single contribution to education but multiple roles in many aspects of Ryerson in which Stephen leads and excels. His nominator offered this final comment: “ If I was to return to undergrad, I would hope to be fortunate enough to have Professor Swales teaching me....”

Caterina Valentino
Chang School

Dr. Caterina Valentino is a supportive leader with students as partners in learning. She fosters development of a collaborative and supportive teaching environment where students do not become competitive and individualistic. An exceptionally empathetic personality, Dr. Valentino recognizes individual students’ styles, values, beliefs, and preconceptions and incorporates them in communication
with and among students. She facilitates development of critical thinking and problem solving skills for the students by simulating real world applications. She emphasizes on developing deeper understanding of subject matter rather than having correct answers. She provides regular, timely, and specific feedback that helps students to develop a deeper understanding of subject matter.

Dr. Valentino is ever innovative in her teaching. Her flexibility in lecture delivery to fit the differences in learners, group discussions to engage students in sharing experiences to problem solve, thoughtful questions to foster students’ engagement and confidence are evidences of her innovation in teaching. She uses role plays, case studies, and storytelling to keep the students engaged and creative. She takes interest in individual students. Dr. Valentino has become a role model for her students both personally and professionally. Her passion for learning has touched many students who had gone on to pursue post‐secondary education. As well, her passion for personal fitness has inspired many students to become aware of their own wellness and adapt healthy lifestyles.

A graduate student writes that Dr. Valentino has inspired her by "...believing in myself of attaining my lifelong dream of completing my PhD. Caterina’s gift of teaching has encouraged many students like
myself to pursue higher education, personally touching our lives. Moreover, Caterina is compassionate, believes in her students, is open minded, motivates her students to better themselves, and most pertinently, Caterina truly cares for her students like her own family”.

In conclusion, support letters in Dr. Valentino’s nomination show her as an instructor with exceptional passion for teaching, ability to motivate and engage students, to become a role model for students’ personal and professional lives, and who constantly encourages students to fulfill their potentials and dreams.