Media Release – March 30, 2023
Canadian Mathematical Society


OTTAWA, ON – The Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS) is pleased to announce that Dr. Fok-Shuen Leung of the University of British Columbia has been named the recipient of the 2023 Excellence in Teaching Award for his exceptional contributions to the teaching of mathematics and his work in promoting innovative teaching and learning strategies.

After earning a D.Phil. in Mathematics at Oxford University in 2008, Dr. Leung taught at the University of Waterloo for two years before joining the faculty at UBC. There he immersed himself in a wide range of teaching and curriculum projects, which led to Killam Teaching Prizes in 2012 and 2022, as well as the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences Education prize in 2020. In that same year, he was promoted to the rank of Professor of Teaching, the highest rank in the (tenured) Educational Leadership track at UBC.

One of his projects involves the development of a course structure in a large first-year calculus courses in which students are given a “small class” experience. The large lectures are supplemented with a weekly session of up to 60 students, during which students learn new material through activities that build their technical skills and deepen their conceptual understanding. To make this program effective, the graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants need to be trained and actively monitored; Fok-Shuen is involved in that as well.

This work connects with a much wider instructor-training program that spans graduate, postdoctoral, and faculty levels. Professor Brian Wetton former Head of the Math Department at UBC says that, “Fok-Shuen has developed a suite of training programs to support the professional development of graduate TAs and postdocs as they learn to become effective instructors. His unique instructional skills orientations for postdocs and the graduate course Mathematics Teaching Techniques, MATH 599, are outstanding, vastly improving our entire teaching mission.”

Dr. Leung publishes and disseminates all this work. His ideas have improved mathematics education at UBC, and in addition, have been formally adopted at the Universities of Waterloo and Alberta. By now, his former trainees are teaching these methods in several Canadian and UK universities, positively affecting mathematics students elsewhere.

Dr. Leung has been engaged in a collaboration with the Nunavut Teacher Education Program at the Nunavut Arctic College in Iqaluit, NU, on teaching and learning mathematics for non-STEM students. This work will have long-term impact on the effectiveness of teachers being trained in Canada’s high Arctic.

Dr. Leung has been a key leader in the development of the Science Stream at UBC’s Vantage College, a program for international students who are simultaneously studying mathematics and learning English.

Overall, Dr. Leung is an outstanding mathematician and educator whose teaching impact is diverse and growing. The CMS is proud to award him the 2023 Excellence in Teaching Award.

About the Excellence in Teaching Award

The Excellence in Teaching Award recognises sustained and distinguished contributions in mathematics education at the post-secondary undergraduate level at a Canadian institution. The award was established in 2004 to recognise teaching excellence as exemplified by effectiveness in the classroom and/or commitment and dedication to teaching students.

For more information, visit the Excellence in Teaching Award page.

About the Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS)

The CMS is the main national organization whose goal is to promote and advance the discovery, learning and application of mathematics. The Society’s activities cover the whole spectrum of mathematics including scientific meetings, research publications, and the promotion of excellence in mathematics competitions that recognize outstanding student achievements.

For more information, please contact:

Dr. Peter Taylor (Queen’s)
Chair, CMS Excellence in Teaching Award Committee
Canadian Mathematical Society
or Dr. Termeh Kousha
Executive Director
Canadian Mathematical Society