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Concordia celebrates 4 professors who go the extra mile for their students

The President’s Excellence in Teaching Awards recognize faculty members’ creative pedagogical approaches and commitment to supportive learning
June 3, 2019
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By Ashley Fortier

Concordia celebrates 4 professors who go the extra mile for their students

Behind every successful student are the teachers who help them realize their full potential.

That’s why, each year, Concordia presents the President’s Excellence in Teaching Awards to faculty who go above and beyond to support and inspire their students. The awards honour teaching defined by high academic quality, social responsibility, innovation, outstanding student experience and student and community engagement.

“This is a chance for the university community to celebrate some of our very best instructors,” says Concordia’s president Alan Shepard.

The 2019 President’s Excellence in Teaching Awards recipients are:

“The unwavering commitment professors show their students makes a lasting difference in the trajectory of their lives,” Shepard says.

“Concordia takes pride in the passion and innovation that drives these remarkable faculty members.”

From left: Alan Shepard; Bonnie Harnden, professor in the Department of Creative Arts Therapies; and Sandra Gabriele, vice-provost of Innovation in Teaching and Learning. From left: Alan Shepard; Bonnie Harnden, professor in the Department of Creative Arts Therapies; and Sandra Gabriele, vice-provost of Innovation in Teaching and Learning.

Bonnie Harnden: Award for Excellence in Teaching

Harnden’s caring and empathetic approach prompted her peers and students to nominate her for this award.

“Training to be a therapist is highly demanding. Professor Harnden creates a classroom where it is safe to be vulnerable and to feel emotion, because one is always supported and never judged,” says Meaghen Buckley, MA candidate in Drama Therapy.

“She was a tower of support for me and continues to be a mentor.”

Before coming to Concordia in 2007, Harnden worked for 12 years in the Department of Psychiatry at the Montreal Children's Hospital. Her clinical and research work focuses on mental health and healing in children and high-risk youth.

“Bonnie is a professor who has a deep knowledge of her subject but also a profound empathy for her students and what they might be struggling with,” says Stéphane Suppervielle, a student in Concordia’s Music Therapy Graduate Diploma program.

“She was always available to address delicate situations, especially when some of the exercises we did in class triggered emotional reactions.”

Harnden also uses her skills as a drama therapist to help students learn through role play.

“She is passionate about teaching. She loves connecting with students and mentoring them in their learning and growth as people and future therapy professionals,” says Guylaine Vaillancourt, chair of the Department of Creative Arts Therapies.


From left: Alan Shepard; Robert Soroka, lecturer in marketing, management and finance; and Sandra Gabriele. From left: Alan Shepard; Robert Soroka, part-time faculty member in Marketing, Management and Finance; and Sandra Gabriele.

Robert Soroka: Award for Excellence in Teaching (part-time)


In his award nomination, students note that Soroka is devoted to helping them find their own path.

“He encourages us to not give up on our dreams. I believe he is one of the best professors I’ve had so far,” says Laura Galvez, an undergraduate economics and marketing student.

Soroka works hard to equip his students with the practical skills they need after graduation.

“He is an engaged teacher who has a genuine interest in improving the way students connect with marketing as well as its application in the real world using business cases,” says Anne-Marie Croteau, dean of the John Molson School of Business (JMSB).

Soroka’s impact on students is widespread. In addition to teaching in three different JMSB departments, he is also a professor with Concordia Continuing Education. In 1997, he received Concordia’s Distinguished Teaching Award.

Bill Mandelos (BComm 02) is director of engineering in Procurement & Supply Management for Canadian National Railway (CN) and a former student of Soroka’s.

“Robert has instilled an excitement and passion in me for marketing and business that has not dwindled to this very day. I owe him a tremendous amount of gratitude for leaving an indelible mark on my personal and professional growth,” he says.


From left: Alan Shepard; Marleah Blom, assistant professor in the Department of Education; and Sandra Gabriele. From left: Alan Shepard; Marleah Blom, LTA assistant professor in the Department of Education; and Sandra Gabriele.

Marleah Blom: Award for Innovative Excellence in Teaching


“The fact that Blom is a serious theorist of pedagogy who successfully puts concepts into practice is impressive,” says André Roy, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science.

“Her constant engagement in improving, experimenting and creating new methods and then reflecting upon them to develop and test out new approaches is equally impressive.”​

Blom teaches in Concordia’s Child Studies program. Blom cites two main forces that have shaped her research interests and her professional practice: preparing students for academic teaching careers, and witnessing the power of play and creativity within educational and clinical environments.

Elsa Lo, director of the Child Studies program, says Blom motivates students to reach heights they do not think they could reach.

“Many students have spoken to me about how they are energized and inspired by Marleah’s teaching. They greatly appreciate her enthusiasm and expertise in various subject matters, her approachability and her genuine love for learning,” Lo says.

Her range of knowledge and participative approach is also impressive to her peers.

“Blom embodies in her creative teaching practice the importance of shaping the classroom space into a safe stage and enacting through sustainable techniques and ways and means, the best virtues a seasoned professor can pass as a legacy to the next generation of learners and practitioners,” says Arpi Hamalian, associate professor of education.


From left: Alan Shepard; Caroline Roux, assistant professor in the Department of Marketing and Concordia University Research Chair in Psychology of Resource Scarcity; and Sandra Gabriele. From left: Alan Shepard; Caroline Roux, assistant professor in the Department of Marketing and Concordia University Research Chair in Psychology of Resource Scarcity; and Sandra Gabriele.

Caroline Roux: Award for New Teacher


Jooseop Lim, chair of the Department of Marketing, says Roux’s office is always busy with students seeking her support. “I have always seen her quickly responding to various requests and questions,” he says.

“I believe that she is an educator who can help students achieve their dreams through her genuine love for and dedication to them.”

Roux’s primary area of research explores how reminders of resource scarcity affect consumers’ cognitions, judgment and behaviour. Last year, Roux was awarded a JMSB Dean’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching.

Manal Tarhini, marketing lecturer, considers herself fortunate to have the chance to work closely with Roux.

“Her dedication and work ethics are phenomenal and very contagious.”

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