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June 7, 2001 Teaching awards for inspiring Business professors



School of Business professors

The Business School’s Sandra Betton, Mark Medicoff and Gail Fayerman provide the link between academia and industry, and work hard to make their classrooms professionally relevant.

Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj

by James Martin

The John Molson School of Business will give three teaching awards at its convocation on June 11, two full-time, and one part-time.

All three recipients of this year’s John Molson School of Business Teaching Awards are emphatic boosters of the link between academia and industry, and work hard to make their classrooms professionally relevant.

This year’s full-time award is shared by Gail Fayerman and Sandra Betton. Fayerman is a two-time winner, having taken home the honour in 1993.

As director of Concordia’s Chartered Accountancy program, Fayerman keeps close tabs on the industry by being active in the Order of Chartered Accountants, and by volunteering her accounting advisory services to various non-profit organizations. She feels such activities bring a necessary relevance to her Financial Accounting classrooms.

“Accounting [as a university subject] is unusual, because it requires a professional aspect,” she said. “One of our main goals is to ensure that there is a strong liaison between academics and the profession.”

She cites an ongoing shift in the industry that sees less emphasis placed on the traditional memorization of information, and increasing importance placed on an accountant’s ability to access information. As a response to this shift in required skills, Fayerman has implemented several ongoing classroom projects using the required technologies.

“My main strategy is to teach students that they have to think—that is the process I’m trying to put forward. Accounting constantly changes. You can teach a few rules, but you also have to teach them how to respond to changing environments.”

Sandra Betton agrees. She has taught Finance at Concordia for six years, and believes that learning about the learning process is far more important than simply getting the right answers. “I know I’m making a difference when a student comes to see me a couple of years later and says, ‘I don’t necessarily use exactly what you taught me, but I know I use the approaches you taught me, and I know I can do it because of your class.’ That’s when I know I’m giving them more than just a bunch of knowledge they could have got out of a book.”

Betton believes that “part of the function of a university is the dissemination of knowledge,” which is why she enjoys bringing her research results (in the area of mergers and acquisitions) into the classroom. “I’ll say to the students, ‘OK, why do we observe this? What is going on here?’ and see what kinds of issues get them fired up, what sorts of explanations they can come up with.

“I find that a lot of the students are very inspiring. The effort that they put into their courses, the desire they have to learn, and the questions they ask keep me motivated to keep improving in the classroom. These are people who want to learn, and that makes it very pleasurable to work on my teaching, because I’m giving it to somebody who wants it.”

Betton added, “We’re wanting our students to become lifelong learners, and if we’re not following that process ourselves, if we’re not continually engaged with our field, I don’t see how we can really expect our students to do the same thing.”

Mark Medicoff, recipient of this year’s part-time teaching award, also uses his outside-the-classroom experience to inform his teaching. Medicoff has taught Business Communication at Concordia since 1988, and runs a construction business during the summer.

“Running a business enables me to be in touch constantly with a sense of the marketplace,” he said. “How do you develop business proposals? How do you put together a report about a problem in a building? How do you present it verbally to the people who own the building?
“This is what I do, and this is what I teach.”