University Canada West honoured professors Dr. Mehdi Akhgari and Dr. William Rubel with Sustained Teaching Excellence Awards at its Fall 2023 Convocation.

UCW established the Teaching and Learning Excellence Awards to recognize outstanding faculty and staff.

Dr. Akhgari is an Associate Professor who brings industry experience to UCW and his students through various leadership roles that include strategic planning, marketing, incorporation and operations, and Dr. Rubel is an Assistant Professor at UCW with an extensive background in English and Philosophy.

Dr. Akhgari joined UCW in 2017 after teaching at the University of Winnipeg. He is committed to providing experiential learning opportunities for his students by connecting them to industry projects and guiding them to develop their professional capacity.

“This recognition is not just for me but for every student who has ever stepped into my classroom, every colleague who has ever shared their insights, and for every moment that made teaching a transformative experience for me,” said Dr. Akghari, who received his award on Tuesday.

An active leader and contributor to the refinement and evolution of UCW’s Marketing curriculum, Dr. Akhgari is also committed to his teaching and students’ professional experience and growth; through ongoing pedagogical innovation and experimentation with relevant tools and activities to enrich his students’ learning experience. Encouraging student research is yet another passion of his. He has completed the Certificate in Higher Education Teaching from the University of Manitoba.

An engaged member of the UCW Community, Dr. Akhgari has served as chair of the Scholarly Activity Committee and as a mentor in the faculty mentorship program. He has co-authored and presented research with his students and mentors students during their academic journey at UCW.

“Throughout my teaching journey, I’ve seen the transformative power of education. Witnessing students find their passions, push boundaries and overcome challenges has deeply inspired my dedication to teaching. Each interaction with you, has been an opportunity for mutual growth, and for that, I am profoundly grateful.”

Dr. Rubel, who joined UCW in 2019, received his Teaching and Learning Award on Wednesday.

A former scholar at Columbia University, Fairleigh Dickinson and Corpus Christi College, Dr. Rubel has been the recipient of writing prizes, accolades, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada research funds and other awards.

His passion for education and evolving his teaching practice is evident through his journey to learn more about contemplative education and alternate epistemologies as a visiting scholar at Amherst College and the Central Institute of Tibetan Studies in India. More recently, he enrolled in the Bachelor of Education program at the University of BC in 2020. Dr. Rubel applies inclusive principles of Universal Design for Learning and demonstrates his commitment to Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action in his teaching, curriculum revisions and contributions to educational communities within and beyond UCW.

In his speech to students, Dr. Rubel shared thoughts about the question that kick-started Western philosophy: “What is the good life? Even simpler, what is life?”

“In 1926, the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead argued that the essence of life is creativity. ‘This creative principle,’ he wrote, ‘is everywhere, in animate and so-called inanimate matter, in the ether, water, earth, human hearts.’ In other words, life is not a complex mechanical phenomenon that can be explained deterministically.”

Published on October 25, 2023.