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 and part-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 now open to current part-time and 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.


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 for the 2024 Father William A. Stewart, S.J. Medal for Excellence in Teaching 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.

Nomination dossier

Download the Father William A. Stewart, S.J, Medal for Excellence in Teaching Dossier
The nomination period for the 2024 Father William A. Stewart, S.J. Medal for Excellence in Teaching is now closed. 

2023 Recipient: Dr. Mary Sheppard


Dr. Mary Sheppard is the 2023 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. 

Mary Sheppard is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Chemistry. Graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree from Memorial University in 1999, Mary then completed her graduate studies in analytical chemistry at the University of Alberta where she developed novel separation techniques using zwitterions in capillary electrophoresis.  After teaching at five universities across Canada and a brief time working as a research analytical chemist, she returned to her love of teaching and became a lecturer at Saint Mary’s University in 2002. 

Born and raised in the tiny town of Taylor’s Bay, Newfoundland and being a first-generation university graduate, Prof. Sheppard personally understands the challenging transition to university learning. Enhancing student success has been a central driving force of her work. As part of her support to students’ transition to university, she sends them welcome emails and FAQ sheets. Prof. Sheppard introduced cocurricular Student Success modules in first-year chemistry laboratory. She is also an early adopter of the Early Assist program that supports students if they face challenges that impact their academic success. 

After over 15 years of teaching, Prof. Sheppard’s growing interest in how students learn led her back to graduate school to pursue a doctoral degree in chemistry education research at the University of New Hampshire (degree to be conferred on May 19, 2023). Simultaneously completing a PhD degree and teaching full-time was challenging, but also advantageous since teaching and education research are fundamentally entwined. Her research uses qualitative interview methods to explore how students develop understanding of chemistry topics. Results inform the development of more effective teaching strategies to mitigate learning challenges.  

Prof. Sheppard brings her insight about chemistry education best practice to her classrooms. She developed guided inquiry experiments and student-led demonstrations for chemistry laboratory to enhance first-year students’ critical thinking and communication skills. Her third-year environmental chemistry course, a noted favourite of students, examines recent peer-reviewed literature to develop scientific writing and communication. Prof. Sheppard is devoted to students’ success and grateful for the privilege of being involved in the learning journey of many wonderful students. 

Past Recipients

  • 2022: Dr. Benita Bunjun, Social Justice and Community Studies, and Women and Gender Studies 
  • 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