University of Lethbridge Alumni Association names Dr. Dennis Sumara as winner of 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award

The University of Lethbridge Alumni Association (ULAA) is pleased to recognize Dr. Dennis Sumara (BA & BEd ’80, MEd ’90) as the winner of the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award.

He will be honoured at the ULAA's Let There Be Light Night on Friday, October 14, 2022, 7 to 10 p.m., in the Science Commons Atrium. Tickets are currently available.

Dr. Dennis Sumara (BA & BEd ’80, MEd ’90)

Dennis Sumara is a preeminent teacher, scholar and leader in the field of education.

Dennis Sumara is a preeminent teacher, scholar and leader in the field of education. But in 1976, he had a different career ambition. Keeping a promise to his mother, he enrolled at the University of Lethbridge, with plans to leave after a year to become a hair stylist in Toronto.

Sumara, however, soon changed his mind. During the first week of classes, he met professors and was introduced to books and ideas that changed not only what he knew, but also who he believed he could be.

Eventually, Sumara earned three degrees at the University and was awarded the Governor General’s Gold Medal for outstanding academic achievement during his graduate studies. He then completed a PhD in education at the University of Alberta and won the Dissertation of the Year award from the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies.

Sumara taught and conducted research at several Canadian universities before he was appointed dean of the University of Calgary’s Werklund School of Education in 2009. Over the next 10 years, he guided the school through an intense period of renewal, making significant changes to its curriculum, policies and planning.

Sumara’s work to bring equity, diversity, inclusion and interdisciplinarity into teacher education has put him at the forefront of his field. Today, in addition to being a professor of language and literary education in the Werklund School of Education, he is a highly sought-after expert, a prolific keynote speaker and the founding editor of the peer-reviewed Journal of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies. With more than 150 publications to his credit, he has also written six books and a number of them are considered required reading at many Canadian universities.

As a researcher, Sumara has focused on imaginative engagement, an innovative approach to education that incorporates students’ emotions, intuition and creativity into the teaching and learning process. Specifically, he has studied the role of imaginative engagement and how to employ the practice purposefully and sustainably in schools and post-secondary institutions.

During his career, Sumara has made an enormous impact on teacher education and his accomplishments have brought tremendous distinction to the University of Lethbridge. In 2019, most notably, he received the prestigious Award for Research on Teacher Education from the Canadian Association for Teacher Education. The honour recognized Dennis Sumara’s research leadership and exceptional contributions to teacher education and celebrated the widespread adoption of his ideas across North America and around the world.