Dr. Mark Canada wins 2008 UNC Teaching Excellence Award


Dr. Mark Canada, an associate professor of English at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, has been named a recipient of the 2008 UNC Board of Governors Award for Teaching Excellence.

Mark CanadaThe award goes annually to a faculty member on each of UNC’s 17 campuses and underscores the importance of teaching in higher education.

The winners will be honored in Chapel Hill, N.C., on May 9 with a commemorative bronze medallion and a $7,500 cash prize. Dr. Canada will serve as University Marshal and deliver the commencement address at the 2008 Winter Commencement.

Dr. Canada is a remarkable teacher, said Dr. Charles Harrington, provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs.

“During his time at Pembroke, Mark Canada has proven consistently that his innovative and effective teaching, his prolific scholarship, and his incomparable service to his department, the University, and our region are exemplary,” Dr. Harrington said.  “This award is fitting recognition for him.

“He exemplifies all that is good about academia, and I am delighted for him,” he concluded.

In his 12th year at UNCP, Dr. Canada was recently named assistant chair of the Department of English, Theatre and Languages. Dr. Canada, who specializes in American literature, has taught more than a dozen different courses.

 “The award is the highlight of my professional career because it is for teaching,” he said. “To be honored for what I believe is my calling is a real thrill.

“I did not start out to be a teacher, but I have come to love it,” Dr. Canada said. “I use a lot of individual instruction, and a lot of my teaching comes down to one-on-one conferences.”

In the faculty’s award recommendation, his colleagues outlined the values Dr. Canada brings into the classroom and other duties.

“Dr. Canada’s goal for students is to engage them in ‘rich, personal, and meaningful experiences by which they can achieve their potential as readers, writers, thinkers, and lifelong learners,’” the profile states. “His courses motivate students to think critically as they read challenging texts, conduct research, write essays, deliver presentations, and engage in classroom and online discussion.”

”At UNC Pembroke and beyond, Dr. Canada engages in leadership roles and collaborations that promote learning among students and colleagues,” the statement concludes.

Dr. Dennis Sigmon, chair of the Department of English, Theatre and Languages, calls Dr. Canada “a teacher’s teacher” and “a model of excellence in teaching.”

Dr. Canada may be the first UNCP winner of the teaching award who teaches online and in the classroom. Along with an online course in American literature that he teaches for UNCP, Dr. Canada regularly teaches an online grammar course for UNC-Chapel Hill that he created from scratch in 2001.

“It is a popular course that I teach year around,” he said. “I have mixed feelings about distance education because it lacks the classroom interaction, but it fills a niche.”

In his traditional and online classes, Dr. Canada employs a range of strategies, including online lessons and tutorials, multimedia lectures, group exercises and individual conferences and progress reports.

Although the award is for teaching, Dr. Canada is an outstanding scholar. His interests lately have turned to the interaction between journalism and19th century American literature.

“Scholarship is important,” Dr. Canada said. “During a recent semester-long academic leave, I learned a great deal that I took back to the classroom.”

Dr. Canada has distinguished himself by authoring numerous articles for journals and books and making presentations on literature, technology, teaching and learning. His book manuscript, “The Story and the Truth: American Journalism and Literature in Nineteenth Century,” is under review for publication.

Another distinguishing aspect of his career at UNCP is service to the faculty and academy. He has served on countless tenure reviews and reviews for tenured faculty. For the University, he has served on committees for Quality Enhancement, Assessment, Instructional Resources, Teaching Excellence, Honors, Awards, Continuing Education, Strategic Planning, Technology and more.

“I believe in this University and its mission, and I want to see it succeed,” Dr. Canada said. “I am particularly interested in the area of recruitment.”

Dr. Canada played key roles in University recruiting videos and image advertising. The classroom, however, is his first love, and in just his third year on the faculty, he won one of the University’s Outstanding Teaching Awards.

An Indiana native and a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Indiana University, Dr. Canada earned master’s and doctoral degrees in English from UNC-Chapel Hill.

The 17 recipients, representing an array of academic disciplines, were nominated by special committees on their home campuses and selected by the Board of Governors Committee on Personnel and Tenure. The awards will be presented by UNC President Erskine Bowles and Board of Governors Chairman Jim Phillips of Greensboro.

Established by the Board of Governors in 1994 to reward good teaching across the University, the awards are given annually to a tenured faculty member from each UNC campus. Winners must have taught at their present institutions at least seven years. No one may receive the award more than once.