Wen Teoh, director of the Entrepreneurship Practice & Innovation Centre (EPICente), and learning specialist Dave Cormier of the Office of Open Learning were among the employees of Ontario universities honoured Friday by Jill Dunlop, provincial minister of colleges and universities.
The two received Minister of Colleges and Universities’ Awards of Excellence, which Dunlop said highlight the “incredible work” being done by Ontario’s faculty, staff, and graduate students.
“We are celebrating everyday heroes who stepped up amidst a global pandemic,” she said to an online gathering of the awardees.
Cormier, pictured at left, was recognized for his efforts at “future-proofing,” helping to develop new ways of educating students during restrictions on physical proximity.
“I think the key skill that we can help develop in any student is the ability to deal with uncertainty,” he says. “They have so many options today, so much information and so many ways to communicate, that choosing what to do can be overwhelming.”
Cormier helps students hone practical skills, but says the more important part is getting them to understand how to work when they aren’t sure: by asking questions, taking risks, or fixing their mistakes.
He takes a similar approach to working with instructors on online learning.
“My work encourages teaching approaches that engage students with the complex questions of their fields, through open online practice. Open approaches create space for students to succeed across disciplines, while still learning to make their own decisions,” says Cormier.
Teoh won notice in the category of innovation and entrepreneurship for working with industry and business to drive economic growth and change.
“As a post-secondary institution, we have the opportunity and ability to encourage and support students and entrepreneurs to contribute to the economy in a meaningful way,” she says. “At EPICentre, we help them spot the opportunities, develop entrepreneurship competencies, and support them throughout their entrepreneurial journey.”
In nominating her for the honour, vice-president for research and innovation K.W. Michael Siu cited her “tireless work” for economic development.
“Despite challenges presented by COVID-19, Wen’s determination and passion to support student entrepreneurs never wavered,” he wrote.
Dr. Siu credited Teoh with spearheading six entrepreneurial programs, four of which were first launched during the pandemic, including an effort to source and manufacture face shields for frontline workers, help small businesses pivot to online services, and launching an accelerator program for social enterprises.
The ministry will post messages to its social media channels over the coming weeks congratulating each of the award recipients.