February 5, 2009

Editors: Photos of Carolyn Eyles and Nick Bontis can be downloaded at:


McMaster professors receive Canada’s highest teaching award

Hamilton, ON. February 5, 2009 – Two McMaster professors have been named recipients of this year’s 3M National Teaching Fellowships for bringing inspirational power to university teaching.

Carolyn Eyles, professor of geography in the Faculty of Science, and Nick Bontis, associate professor of strategy in the DeGroote School of Business, will formally receive their awards on June 18 at the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education conference in New Brunswick.

The 3M Fellowships are the most prestigious recognition of excellence and leadership in Canadian university teaching.

“It’s a remarkable achievement, especially for one university to receive two such awards,” enthuses Peter George, president of McMaster University. “Teaching is important work. A good teacher inspires, and both Carolyn and Nick have mastered ways to inject passion into their students. We are extremely proud of both of them.”

Eyles, whose teaching includes an introductory course on Earth Sciences and one on glaciers, attributes her passion for teaching to her students and to her willingness to take risks.

“I depend greatly on my students,” she says. “I listen to them and incorporate their ideas into my teaching. For instance, students mentioned about how their essays and projects were handed in, marked and then lost forever. So we created a wiki to build an inventory of Canadian glaciers, and it just instilled such pride in the students. They saw that their contribution mattered. I also get a huge amount of encouragement from McMaster to “go try it”. It’s easy to take risks when you have the support of your University.”

Bontis, says creating a high-energy, interactive  learning environment is a key to engaging students.

“Technology, especially computer simulation, take lessons beyond theory and create a totally different learning experience for students,” says Bontis. “ Staying on the cutting edge—whether it’s about the latest goings-on in the business world or new software that companies are using—ensures that I give students the skills and the knowledge they need to hit their career path running.”

The 10 winners of this year’s awards will be invited to a retreat at Chateau Montebello in November.

The Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and 3M Canada created the 3M Teaching Fellowships in 1986 to recognize the importance of university teaching.

McMaster University, one of four Canadian universities listed among the Top 100 universities in the world, is renowned for its innovation in both learning and discovery. It has a student population of 23,000, and more than 140,000 alumni in 128 countries.


For more information, please contact:

Jane Christmas

Manager, Public & Media Relations

McMaster University

905-525-9140 ext. 27988


Michelle Donovan

Public Relations Manager: Broadcast Media

McMaster University

905-525-9140 ext. 22869


Julia Thomson

Communications Officer,

DeGroote School of Business

905-525-9140 ext. 27436