Father Stewart Medal for Excellence in Teaching


Father William A. Stewart was a Professor of Philosophy and an Administrator at Saint Mary’s from 1950-1982, working in the Faculty of Arts and holding various Administration positions during a time of major growth at the University. He continued to volunteer on committees until 1997.  Father Stewart was one of the first professors at Saint Mary’s to embrace inclusivity by welcoming women into his classroom, and helping young women become full-time students before the University introduced co-ed education evening classes in 1952.  He was known for his strong beliefs in promoting accessible education to marginalized communities and was also very much involved in promoting teaching innovation and excellence on campus.

Established in 1983 in cooperation with the Faculty Union and the Students' Representative Council, The Father William A. Stewart, S.J. Medal for Excellence in Teaching honours this legacy at Saint Mary’s by annually highlighting full-time faculty members who have made significant contributions to the education of Saint Mary’s students through excellence in teaching and service.


This award is open to current full-time faculty members who have completed at least five years of teaching service at Saint Mary's University and have made significant contributions to the education of Saint Mary's students through excellence in teaching and service. Full criteria can be found in the Nomination Dossier.

The Selection Committee will consider candidates who:
a) Demonstrate teaching ability and classroom performance
b) Demonstrate capacity to engage learner interest in the subject
c) Develop and clearly communicate student learning outcomes, course requirements, and pathways to success
d) Use approaches to teaching and evaluation of learning that respect diverse student learning needs
e) Demonstrate active, experiential learning in and outside the classroom
f) Demonstrate reflective teaching, for example: by engaging in the scholarship of teaching and learning- sharing good practice with others through workshops, presentations, or publications on teaching and learning or participating in professional development activities to enhance teaching practice


Members of the Saint Mary's University Alumni Association, University employees, and students (who are not currently enrolled in courses taught by the candidate) may submit a Nomination Dossier, which should make a persuasive case using evidence from a variety of sources, including the candidate, students, peers, former students/alumni, and exemplary teaching materials.

The Nomination Dossier is available for download below. 

Note - the nomination period for 2022 is now closed.


Members of the Committee may be substituted in the event of conflicts of interest, including current working or teacher-student relationships, or previous support of the nomination of any of the current year's candidates.

The Committee reserves the right to withhold the award in any year where nominations do not meet criteria/eligibility standards. 


The nomination period is now closed.

The recipient will be presented with a plaque as well as a $1,500 monetary award which is funded equally by the Alumni Association and the Faculty Union.

2021 Recipient: Dr. John Plews


John L. Plews is the 2021 recipient of the Father William A. Stewart, SJ Medal for Excellence in Teaching presented by the Saint Mary’s University Alumni Association and Faculty Union. 

Plews is a professor of German and Director of the Canadian Summer School in Germany (CSSG). He studied German and French at the University of Manchester (1991) and completed a Master’s in German Literature at the University of Alberta, Edmonton (1992). He earned a Doctorate in German Literatures, Languages, & Linguistics (2001) and a Doctorate in Secondary Education (2010), both from the University of Alberta. He has taught at Saint Mary’s since 2005 and at the CSSG from 2009-2012 as well as since 2017 when becoming Director. He served as the President of the Canadian Association of University Teachers of German (CAUTG) (2016-2018) and President of the Halifax Languages Consortium (2015-2018). Dr. Plews researches study abroad for language learners and language teachers, second language learner identities and second language curriculum and teaching. His work draws on a variety of critical and sociocultural theories as well as qualitative approaches, including narrative analysis. His research has been funded by SSHRC, Saint Mary’s University, the Province of Alberta and the Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Fund. He is also the recipient of the Sheryl McInnis Award (2003) in recognition of academic service to the LGBTQ2S+ community of Edmonton and the CAUTG Award for Best PhD Dissertation (2002).  

Plews is being recognized by his current and former students and colleagues for his enthusiasm and dedication to the scholarship of teaching and learning of the German language, engaging teaching methods and positive impact on the lives of his students.

He is currently compiling an edited volume on critical approaches to study abroad research methods and data (2022, Palgrave Macmillan, with J. McGregor). He is editor of several books and journal issues and author of articles and book chapters on various topics in study abroad research, second language education and German culture.  


Past Recipients

  • 2021: Dr. John Plews, Modern Languages (German) 
  • 2020: Dr. Ethan Pancer, Marketing
  • 2019: Dr. Roby Austin, Astronomy & Physics
  • 2018: Dr. David Bourgeois, Psychology
  • 2017: Dr. Marc G. Doucet, Political Science
  • 2016: Dr. Thomas Kozloski, Accounting 
  • 2015: Dr. Ellen Farrell, Management
  • 2014: Dr. Maryanne Fisher, Psychology
  • 2013: Dr. Gene Barrett, Sociology and Criminology
  • 2012: Dr. Colleen Barber, Biology
  • 2011: Dr. Brian Bartlett, English
  • 2010: Dr. Barry Gorman, Accounting
  • 2009: Dr. Pawan Lingras, Mathematics and Computing Sciences
  • 2008: Dr. Shelagh Crooks, Philosophy 
  • 2007: Dr. Stephen Davis, Anthropology
  • 2006: Dr. Edna Keeble, Political Science
  • 2005: Dr. Adam Sarty, Astronomy & Physics
  • 2004: Dr. Porter Scobey, Mathematics & Computing Science
  • 2003: Dr. Janet Hill, English   
  • 2002: Dr. Gillian Thomas, English
  • 2001: Dr. Janet Gregory, Finance & Management Science
  • 2000: Dr. Eric Lee, Finance & Management Science
  • 1999: Dr. Robert Singer, Chemistry
  • 1998: Dr. David Cone, Biology
  • 1997: Dr. Paul Muir, Mathematics & Computing Science
  • 1996: Dr. Ronald Landes, Political Science
  • 1995: Prof. Nicola Young, Accounting
  • 1994: Dr. Cyril Byrne, English   
  • 1993: Dr. Janet Baker, English
  • 1992: Dr. Francis Phillips, Education
  • 1991: Dr. Philip Street, Psychology
  • 1990: Dr. Andrew Seaman, English
  • 1989: Dr. Peter March, Philosophy
  • 1988: Dr. Jack Ginsburg, Chemistry
  • 1987: Prof. Edward McBride, Political Science
  • 1986: Dr. John Young, Chemistry
  • 1985: Dr. David Perrier, Sociology
  • 1984: Prof. Dermot Mulrooney, Engineering
  • 1983: Prof. David Hope, Accounting