Eyles, Bontis receive Canada’s highest teaching award


[img_inline align=”right” src=”http://padnws01.mcmaster.ca/images/CarolynEyles09.jpg” caption=”Carolyn Eyles, professor in the School of Geography and Earth Sciences. Photo by the Science Media Lab. “]Carolyn Eyles started a wiki with her students to create an inventory of Canadian glaciers;
Nick Bontis moves around the classroom like an inspirational speaker. Both professors
bring an uncommon sense of passion to their teaching, and today have been recognized
with a prestigious 3M Teaching Fellowship.

The 3M Fellowships are the most prestigious recognition of excellence and leadership
in Canadian university teaching. Each year up to 10 professors are chosen out of more
than 35,000 faculty members across Canada.

Eyles, whose teaching includes an introductory course on Earth Sciences and one on
glaciers in the Faculty of Science, attributes her passion for teaching to her students and
to her willingness to take risks.

“I depend greatly on my students,” she says. “I listen to them and incorporate their
ideas into my teaching. For instance, students mentioned about how their essays and
projects were handed in, marked and then lost forever. So we created a wiki to build an
inventory of Canadian glaciers, and it just instilled such pride in the students. They saw
that their contribution mattered. I also get a huge amount of encouragement from
McMaster to 'go try it.' It's easy to take risks when you have the support of your

Bontis, an associate professor of strategy in the DeGroote School of Business, is well
known for his high energy, interactive, problem-based teaching approach and his
innovative use of technology and simulations in the classroom. In 2007, he won three
outstanding teaching awards simultaneously for the undergraduate program, the MBA
program and the campus-wide President's Award for Excellence in Instruction.
Maclean's magazine has identified him as one of McMaster's most popular
professors six years in a row, and he was one of 10 finalists in the 2008 TVO Big Ideas
Best Lecturer Competition.
In addition to his teaching prowess, Bontis won Faculty Researcher of the Year and is
Director of Undergraduate Programs at DeGroote.

Nick Bontis, associate professor and director of
undergraduate programs in the DeGroote School of Business. File Photo.

“My goal in the classroom is to create a learning environment that is high energy,
interactive, engaging and educational,” says Bontis. “Technology, especially computer
simulations, take lessons beyond theory and create a totally different learning experience
for students. Staying on the cutting edge-whether it's about the latest goings-on in the
business world or new software that companies are using-ensures that I give students the
skills and the knowledge they need to hit their career path running.”

Peter George, president of McMaster University, called it a remarkable achievement,
especially for a university to receive two such awards.

“Teaching is important work,” says George. “A good teacher inspires, and both
Carolyn and Nick have mastered ways to inject passion into their students. We are
extremely proud of both of them.”

“At the DeGroote School of Business, we are committed to ensuring that the student
experience prepares our graduates fully for their future career success,” says Paul Bates,
dean of the DeGroote School of Business. “Nick's passion, dedication and enthusiasm are
palpable every time he is in the classroom, and as a result he motivates students to keep
pushing the limits.”

“Carolyn is an outstanding and passionate educator and scholar who clearly
exemplifies the qualities and contributions that this award celebrates,” says John Capone,
dean of the Faculty of Science. “Students who have been fortunate to have Carolyn as a
teacher are enriched by the experience and leave with the knowledge that they have been
taught by the very best.”

Eyles and Bontis will formally receive their awards on June 18 at the Society for
Teaching and Learning in Higher Education conference in New Brunswick.

In addition, all 10 winners of this year's awards will be invited to a retreat at Chateau
Montebello in November.

The Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and 3M Canada created
the 3M Teaching Fellowships in 1986 to recognize the importance of university teaching.