A tribute to teachers

by Daniel McCabe

A trio of new teaching awards were recently created by those who appreciate inspiring instruction the most--students. The Physiology Undergraduate League of Students established two new prizes for outstanding teaching in their department and awarded the first recipients last month. The Department of English Students' Association--which knows a good idea when it hears one--created a teaching award of its own.

"These prizes all came about as a result of student initiatives," says Raghu Venugopal, president of the PULS. Adds Nick Carson from DESA (and perhaps not coincidentally Venugopal's roommate), "No faculty were involved in this. The process was run entirely by students. This ought to send out the message that teaching is still our top priority."

The physiology students awarded two prizes. The Dr. Ann Wechsler Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Physiology was given to Dr. Ian Shrier, a departmental lecturer. "He's very good with students on a one-on-one basis--he's patient and he'll make sure that students understand the points he's making," says PULS vice-president Kibar Yared. Third-year students determine the winner of the Wechsler Award.

The Dr. George Mandl Award for Excellence in Teaching Assistance went to Rachel Scott, a fourth-year student who teaches the introductory lab course in the department. All physiology students who are taught by TAs, participated in the balloting for the Mandl winner. Scott used a Royal Bank Teaching Innovation grant to incorporate the World Wide Web into the way she taught her lab students. "She is very knowledgeable with computers and she helps all her students tremendously in terms of their own computer skills," says Yared.

PULS named the awards after Wechsler and Mandl, two longtime physiology professors, as a reward for their own commitment to undergraduate teaching.

In English, the inaugural Louis Dudek Award for Excellence in Teaching (named after the acclaimed poet and professor emeritus) went to Professor Natalie Cooke, who taught a pair of courses on Canadian literature this year.