USSU Excellence Award winners. From left: Dr. Al Chicoine, Paige Links and Dr. Chris Clark.

Students award WCVM faculty and staff

The University of Saskatchewan Students' Union (USSU) asks students each year to nominate professors and staff in an effort to recognize excellence across campus.

This year two Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) faculty and one staff member received awards for their work as a result of these nominations.

Faculty members Drs. Chris Clark and Al Chicoine received teaching excellence awards while staff member Paige Links received the annual academic advising award for her work as the WCVM's manager of student services.

"We're proud of the high quality of teaching and academic services that our faculty and staff consistently provide to our students at the WCVM," says WCVM Dean Dr. Douglas Freeman. "It's rewarding to see our students recognize the commitment that people like Chris, Al and Paige have to their continued academic success."

Dr. Chris Clark, teaching excellence award

Dr. Chris Clark first came to the WCVM for a one-year clinical internship in 1996. He returned to the U of S in 1998 for a residency in large animal internal medicine and his Master of Veterinary Science degree.

Clark is now an associate professor in the WCM's Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences and the college's acting associate dean (academic). He began teaching during his internship and realized his passion for helping students understand complex material.

From the students:

    • "Dr. Clark is the best! He is so enthusiastic about training the next generation of veterinarians – he makes us all feel excited and ready to take on any challenge. He puts a great deal of time and energy into being an amazing teacher and associate dean! He really deserves to be recognized as an exceptional teacher and person. A great role model!"

    • "Dr. Clark is one of the best professors at WCVM. Very enthusiastic, knowledgeable, approachable and organized. Definitely deserves this teaching award."

    • "Dr. Clark is the best professor I have had. Nobody is more enthusiastic and more caring than him. He makes every topic that he teaches interesting! Dr. Clark deserves every teaching award there is!"

Dr. Al Chicoine, teaching excellence award

Dr. Al Chicoine completed his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree in 2003 at the WCVM.

He returned to the college after a few years in private practice to complete his master's degree and residency in clinical pharmacology.  He is now an assistant professor in the WCVM's Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences and serves as a drug evaluator for Health Canada. ​

From the students:

    • "He has mastered his teaching style so that some of the most difficult material is clear. He encourages participation."

    • "Every class is engaging and interesting! Whenever I had a question, he explained it so thoroughly. Very likeable guy! If anyone deserves this award, Al does!"

    • "Legitimately the best prof I've ever had. He is so honest and down to earth. You actually want to do well for him."

Paige Links, academic advising award

Paige Links holds a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Windsor (U of W). She worked as an educational consultant and tutor at the U of W before moving to Saskatoon in 2007. She began her career at the U of S the same year, first as an academic advisor in the College of Arts and Science and then in the College of Nursing. She joined the WCVM in the summer of 2011 as the college's manager of student services. Her job includes all aspects of student services, and WCVM veterinary students speak highly of her dedication.

From the students:

    • "Even before arriving at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, Paige strove to make my arrival and transition easier with lots of information about the new city I would be living in, how to prepare for my first few days and even a list of places to live. Her commitment to the students has never waned in the two years that I have been at WCVM …. Her door is always open to students, in the most literal sense of the phrase. At any one moment, a student may be there for a shoulder to cry on, for advice on course load, [for help] organizing an external rotation, [for] presenting some grievance on behalf of their class, or simply chatting with her when no one else will listen."

    • "Paige is one the most valuable and reliable employees at the WCVM. One of the ways she's displayed her dedication to the students and student life is through her genuine efforts to get to know each and every student on an individual level."

    • "As a busy student who is not inclined to bug administration about school and life troubles, I am constantly reminded by Paige that it's okay to be having a tough time in Saskatoon. Last month, I was personally emailed by Paige asking for me to come see her because a student had reported to her that she noticed I wasn't looking like myself. Even though I felt I was on top of things and wasn't struggling, it was very encouraging to be reminded of how much care and support the upstairs staff are willing to offer."

The USSU awards were given out during a ceremony at Louis' Loft on April 3. The top instructors were chosen out of about 200 nominees, and awarded based on a survey of their classes. Recipients of other awards, such as the academic advising award, were selected by the USSU executive based on written submissions.

USSU has held its annual Experience in Excellence Awards since 1992.

The winners' photos will be on display in the U of S tunnel between Place Riel and the Arts Building after May 1.
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