Six Osgoode professors receive teaching excellence awards

Six outstanding York Osgoode Hall Law School professors – three full-time and three adjunct faculty members – have been honoured with teaching excellence awards for enhancing the quality of learning for Osgoode students. 

Right: Professor Garry Watson (left) with former Osgoode Dean Patrick Monahan, York’s new vice-president academic & provost

The awards, which were handed out at Osgoode’s convocation dinner last month at the Toronto Cricket Skating & Curling Club, take into consideration several factors, including student learning experiences, innovation, professional and curriculum development and mentoring.

In the category of full-time Osgoode faculty members with less than 10 years of experience, the award this year went to Professor Aaron Dhir. He is described by his nominators as “a brilliant professor and a genuine personality whose sense of humour keeps students engaged in an active and participatory environment.” Dhir joined Osgoode two years ago and teaches in the field of business law.

The award for a full-time Osgoode faculty member with more than 10 years of teaching experience went to Professor Tom Johnson (BA Hons. ’78), who has been at Osgoode since 1987.  Johnson’s areas of teaching include contracts and commercial law, international business transactions, corporate finance and international development. 

Left: Former Osgoode Dean Patrick Monahan (left), adjunct faculty members Justice Todd Archibald and Kenneth Jull, and Victoria Watkins, Osgoode Professional Development director

Johnson was lauded by his nominators for being “exceptionally innovative in his use of technology in the classroom and in his approaches to teaching more generally.” They also commended Johnson for “his sincere care for students both in and out of the classroom, his commitment, his rigour, his genuine interest in his students’ well-being and his approachability.” 

Professor Garry Watson, who recently retired as a full-time faculty member after a long and distinguished career, received a special award from Osgoode Professional Development for outstanding contribution to continuing legal education. 

Right: Professor Tom Johnson

Watson, an expert in class actions, distinguished himself and Osgoode over the past three decades through his leadership of the Intensive Trial Advocacy Workshop (ITAW) — an acclaimed eight-day program for litigators that sells out every July. “Through his passionate and hands-on leadership of the ITAW, Garry has made a real and lasting difference in trial advocacy and the pursuit of justice in this country,” said then Osgoode Dean Patrick Monahan in presenting the award to Watson on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of ITAW.

Left: Professor Aaron Dhir

Osgoode’s rich academic program relies not only on the expertise of its full-time faculty, but also on the commitment and talent of a large contingent of adjunct faculty, mostly drawn from the Toronto bar. 

Adjunct faculty member Geri Sadoway (LLB ’81) received an award and acknowledgement for the “incredible mentorship” she has offered to students. “Single-handedly she has mentored, trained and nurtured Canada’s immigration and refugee bar,” Osgoode Associate Dean Janet Mosher said of Sadoway.

This year’s award for teaching excellence in the part-time Master of Laws Program went to two energetic and creative teachers who have contributed to Osgoode both individually and as collaborators.     

Right: Professor Geri Sadoway and Associate Dean Janet Mosher

Kenneth Jull (LLB ’81, LLM ’85), director of the part-time LLM in Civil Litigation & Dispute Resolution Program, and Justice Todd Archibald (LLM ’86), adjunct professor, co-teach courses in both the Civil Litigation and the Criminal Law part-time LLM programs. 

Their courses have developed an enthusiastic following among students, primarily because they “go to great lengths to put students in the very centre of their course design and delivery,” said Victoria Watkins, Osgoode Professional Development director. “That is what makes their collaborations so effective and so memorable.”

Nominations for this year’s awards came from students and faculty who were required to submit a statement setting out why the faculty member has met the criteria of teaching excellence. Nominations had to be supported by two seconders. 

The awards were decided by a committee composed of the associate dean, assistant dean (first year), assistant dean (Student Services), the president of the Legal & Literary Society and the chair of Student Caucus.