Ann Wechsler_Fortier_Masi
Physiology professor Ann Wechsler, accepts the McGill University Lifetime Achievement Award for Leadership in Learning from Principal Suzanne Fortier and Provost Anthony Masi.
Photo: Owen Egan

While the stars of yesterday’s Convocation ceremonies were the 1,800 graduating students, McGill also took the time to celebrate some of its most dedicated educators.

The Principal’s Prize for Excellence in Teaching, established in 2000 to recognize teachers and their importance to the academic experience of students at McGill, was awarded to one recipient in each of four categories: Faculty Lecturer, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and Full Professor.

The University also honoured professor Ann Wechsler, who was presented with the McGill University Lifetime Achievement Award for Leadership in Learning.

Ann Wechsler: Wrong turn leads to right road 

Sometimes taking a wrong turn will lead you exactly where you need to go, just ask Ann Wechsler. “The teacher who played the major role in my academic life was the late Professor Hank MacIntosh, who was Chairman of the Department of Physiology when I first came to McGill [as a graduate student in 1957].

“I met him by accident – my plans had been to pursue studies in a different discipline – but on my way to the pre-admission interview in that department, I got lost and stumbled into Professor McIntosh’s office to get directions. I never left,” said Wechsler, a longtime professor in the Dept. of Physiology specializing in Gastro-Intestinal Physiology. “His kindness, the warmth of his smile, the immediate interest that he took in me as a student, the incredible depth of his knowledge and the obvious enthusiasm that he had for Physiology (a subject that I had not even studied as an undergraduate), and his capacity to make it sound exciting – all of these have led to my being where I am today.”

Today Wechsler is the most recent member of a very exclusive club, having received McGill’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Leadership in Learning during Monday’s Convocation ceremonies. Wechsler is only the fourth person to receive the University’s highest teaching honour, established to recognize “sustained excellence in leadership and innovation, as well as the active integration of teaching and learning with inquiry, scholarship and research.”

Even though she has been teaching for more than half a century, Wechsler says the thrill of discovery is still one of her main motivators. “I am so delighted that the title of this award emphasizes primarily ‘Achievement in Learning,’ rather than teaching,” said Wechsler. “I have, indeed, learned so very much by teaching at McGill.

“To a large extent, it’s the opportunity to interact with young people, to be repeatedly struck by the curiosity and fresh outlook that they bring to those subjects that I love to teach,” continued Wechsler. “Even after all these years, I am constantly surprised to get questions about which I had never thought, and which renew my own sense of wonder, and appreciation for the intrinsically fascinating field of physiology.”

Read the full story in the McGill Reporter.

November 27, 2013