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Dr. James McLellan



Department of Chemical Engineering

Dr. McLellan did an excellent job of continuously checking in on students and their well-being. He was receptive to their feedback in the course and even put in effort to learn students' names. He's considerate and responsible.

Professor Jim truly breaks the stereotype of the unsympathetic engineer. Jim demonstrates exceptional empathy towards all his students, always trying to understand what they are going through and going above and beyond to accommodate requests, especially due to extenuating circumstances.

Jim’s positive attitude is infectious and especially helpful and encouraging during stressful moments in the school term. His genuine passion for teaching and care for his students is evident and inspires students to strive for the same in their professional careers. Despite his busy schedule, Jim always makes time to listen to his students and adjust his schedule to meet their needs!

Jim creates a welcoming and positive learning environment in several ways. In the classroom, he creates an inclusive atmosphere where students are comfortable sharing their concerns and thoughts. He is also flexible with assignment deadlines when students face personal challenges. Jim’s understanding nature and open mindset significantly reduces student stress and anxiety and empowers them to succeed academically while maintaining their mental health!

Anonymous Students

In the context of university education, mental health means having a mindset that brings together curiosity and motivation, resilience and growing confidence, reflection to appreciate one's accomplishments and acceptance for when things don't work out as well as one would hope, an inner acceptance and knowing (to borrow from mindfulness), all together in balance to support learning and personal growth. This is rather an enumerative list - but hopefully it makes some sense.

Educators have an important role to plan in supporting and enhancing student mental health and wellbeing. Central to this is helping build and maintain an encouraging, trusted and supportive environment for discovery and inquiry, in which the journey of learning and putting to practice helps reach goals as much as possible, while recognizing and allowing for mistakes or misunderstanding and the learning that comes with that realization. It's easy for an educator to feel that they are gatekeepers after a fashion, and especially in professional programs we do have an obligation to ensure as best we can that students demonstrate competency in their education. But I view the journey as a shared one - a collaborative journey much like an apprenticeship, where we can celebrate accomplishments, and conveying the understanding that I as the instructor will feel significant satisfaction as they "cross the finish line" and demonstrate this competency.

So, an encouraging environment that recognizes the goals and the "hurdles", but an environment that is encouraging and supportive and identifying that this is a shared goal after a fashion - the accomplishment of the students, and the satisfaction of seeing them realize these goals and develop confidence in their abilities and what they have learned. Establishing a supportive community of learners in a class is very important as well - one in which students can feel as comfortable as possible asking questions or sharing answers or thoughts amongst their classmates, where the important element that brings together is shared learning - individually and collectively. I hope this makes some sense.

--- Dr. James McLellan