New Teaching Excellence and Research Supervision awards at Smith

Posted on July 17, 2018

Michael Welker (left) and Christopher Miners with their Smith School of Business awards.
Michael Welker (left) and Christopher Miners with their Smith School of Business awards.

Kingston, ON – Christopher Miners and Michael Welker are the recipients of two new awards celebrating teaching excellence and research supervision at Smith School of Business.

The inaugural awards recognize faculty who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the education of students in the PhD and MSc programs. Nominations were made by graduate students. 

“I couldn’t be more thrilled that I was nominated because of my students, let alone that I won,” says Christopher, Associate Professor of Organizational Behaviour, who won the Teaching Excellence award. “I know how busy they are trying to push their research forward. To take the time to write a nomination letter is incredibly kind. It makes me very happy deep down inside.”

Speaking at the awards reception in Goodes Hall on July 9, Christopher’s student, Anika Cloutier, PhD’20, praised Christopher (who has been at Smith since 2008) for creating a unique, intellectually stimulating classroom environment where students feel encouraged to share their ideas, as well as for supporting his students outside of class time.

“You feel important in his class,” Anika told the audience, “and you feel validated for sharing your ideas.”

Michael Welker, Professor of Financial Accounting and Distinguished Professor of Accounting, who arrived at Smith in 1996, described winning the Research Supervision award as a “great honour” and stressed the importance of enjoying the process of doing academic work, rather than simply focusing on the end product. 

“I often ask students about their objectives and they tell me they want to publish and get tenure,” Michael told the audience at the awards reception. “I get that, but what I want to hear is ‘I want to better understand X’. That gets you started on a process that will be a fantastic journey. Why focus on the outcomes that you don’t have much control over? Focus on the process, and make sure you really enjoy the process of doing research.” 

Luke Phelps, MSc’17, PhD’21, who spoke on behalf of Michael’s students, described his dedication to them, as well as his continued support, long after graduation. Luke concluded his speech with a statement from a student letter supporting Michael’s nomination. “A very important reason Mike deserves this award is that he perhaps doesn’t quite realize how powerful his effect is on the rest of us.”

The awards were adjudicated by a subcommittee of the graduate admissions committee. The committee examined nominations from graduate students and CVs. For the teaching award, it also reviewed course outlines.