Master Teacher Award - Spring 2002
The Master Teacher Award was established to emphasize the importance of teaching at the University of Saskatchewan and to honour those faculty members who excel in teaching. The Selection Committee has chosen Professor Donna Greschner of the College of Law to be the recipient of this prestigious award at this Convocation.
Professor Greschner was born in rural northwest Saskatchewan and attended school there. She came to the University of Saskatchewan, graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce degree with Great Distinction in 1979 and a Bachelor of Laws with Great Distinction the following year as Outstanding Graduate. In 1982, she earned a graduate law degree from Oxford University on a Commonwealth Scholarship, returning as a member of our law faculty the same year. In 1991, she was promoted to the rank of Professor of Law.
A former student has written: “Her knowledge and passion for a seemingly tedious subject, Constitutional Law, was not only refreshing, but infectious. Six years later I can quote verbatim from her opening lecture where she spoke of our Constitution as a ‘living, breathing’ instrument. I left the class with a clear understanding of the material and a lasting love of the subject.” She also unselfishly found the time to offer survival tips like how to deal with volumes of reading in the middle of the night and overcome hand cramps during examinations. Her students have nominated her three times for the USSU Teaching Excellence Award, and in the College’s formal evaluation of her teaching, her faculty colleagues always assessed her as “superior.” According to her Dean, “Professor Greschner is in the select company of outstanding teachers in this law college and in the legal professorate in Canada.”
Professor Greschner has taught every type of course offered by the College: large classes (upper year and first year), seminars, theory courses, legal writing, and the Law Review course. Her teaching techniques include problem-solving, web-based learning, talking circles, multi-media, small-group discussion, Socratic methods, Oxford debates, role-playing, and lecturing.
Great teachers also demonstrate expertise, enthusiasm, and empathy. Professor Greschner’s students praise her subject mastery, her contagious enthusiasm, and her concern for their education and well-being. As one student put it, “few professors are in the same league as Donna Greschner.”
A Master Teacher is expected to be a worthy researcher as well. Evidence of her academic excellence rests in Professor Greschner’s published work, including a book, many book chapters and refereed articles, and invited conference presentations around the world in such places as South Africa, Australia, and Hong Kong.
A story is told of a senior Oxford Don who gave advice to a junior faculty member: “Don’t try to prove that you’re clever. We’re all clever here. Be kind.” “Donna wears her outstanding academic achievement lightly,” her students tell us, “bringing to her teaching, mentorship, and collegial activities rare elements of personal thoughtfulness toward students and her fellow faculty members.” She is a superb emissary of her discipline, touching everyone she encounters with her passionate curiosity and knowledge. The University of Saskatchewan is indeed fortunate to have such a fine teacher on its staff. She is most deserving of this honour.