Faculty of Medicine professor Michael Lee has won the 3M National Teaching Fellowship Award, one of Canada’s most prestigious awards for educational excellence at the post-secondary level.
The award, which is bestowed annually to ten outstanding Canadian educators, recognizes Lee’s exceptional contributions to teaching and learning at UBC, nationwide, and internationally.
“I am incredibly honoured to have received this award, which is not just about me, but a testament to the whole department, the Faculty of Medicine, and UBC,” said Lee, a professor of teaching in the Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. “I truly believe successful higher education takes a village.”
Lee’s teaching is founded on an unwavering commitment to his students’ mental health and wellbeing, enacting a pedagogy of care.
In 2010, he initiated UBC’s student-led Mental Health Awareness Club, which aims to build an inclusive and supportive campus environment to help all students achieve optimal mental wellness. In 2020, he helped develop Canada’s National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety of Post-Secondary Students, a first-in-the-world set of guidelines to help post-secondary institutions support the mental health and wellbeing of their students.
“Education is about more than acquiring knowledge and skills, but also about shaping hopes and passions,” said Lee. “This award recognizes the importance of teaching to the heart. The ultimate goal for a healthcare educator is to transform a student into a skilled clinician with a heart to foster recovery.”
Lee‘s students speak of having felt deeply cared for and supported in his classes. One student describes him as a very kind, intelligent teacher who engages in his students’ learning and shares his love of occupational therapy. A colleague notes his deep-seated initiative to contribute to best practices to promote well-being, effective teaching, and inter-professional education.
The impact of Lee’s work is felt beyond his classroom. Internationally, he has delivered yearly workshops in China and Asia, supporting a medical university in the re-design of the curriculum for their course in mental health and occupational therapy. He also made a significant contribution to the first book in Chinese addressing mental health within occupational therapy.
A version of this story appeared on the UBC Academic and Provost website.