Posted February 4, 2009
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Education

Four of top 10 Best Lecturer nominees hail from U of T Will deliver televised lectures in March
By Elaine Smith

Toronto - It's no secret across University of Toronto campuses that our faculty is topnotch, but TVO has also recognized the quality of teaching at the university by naming four U of T professors among the top 10 finalists for their annual Best Lecturer competition.

As finalists, Professor Clare Hasenkampf of biological sciences at U of T Scarborough, Professor Shawn Lehman of anthropology, Professor Doug Richards of physical education and health and Professor Paul Stevens of English will each present at televised public lecture in March with a view to becoming Ontario's Best Lecturer. Once their presentations end, the public has the opportunity to vote for them online, by phone or by text message.

"What is especially gratifying is the diversity of disciplines represented by our finalists: it shows the excellence of our faculty teaching across the university," said Professor Kenneth Bartlett, director of the Office of Teaching Advancement and a former finalist himself. "This is good news, and only illustrates again something we have always known: great teaching happens at U of T."

Richards, who runs U of T's sports medicine clinic, will be the first to appear on television, discussing Stretching: The Truth on March 8 at 4 p.m. The following weekend, Stevens will lecture on Milton's Satan on March 14 at 4 p.m. and Lehman will talk about Primate Infanticide: Adaptation of Social Pathology? on March 15 at 4 p.m. Hasenkampf will close out the U of T contingent on March 22 at 4 p.m. with a talk entitled Chromosomes Dividing: How It's Done and Why It Matters.

"It was really nice just to be nominated in the first place, because the nominations are based on student input, but the fact that I can speak to a television audience on subjects that I care about is a real dream," said Hasenkampf, whose teaching was recognized in 2008 with the President's Teaching Award and a 2007 provincial Leadership in Faculty Teaching award.

Teaching is a passion for the nominees and it comes through when they discuss their vocations.

"I love the 'juice' I get via instantaneous feedback from students when my message is getting through," said Richards. "I can see them sit up, their eyes brighten, their heads nod (not into sleep hopefully) and the 'light bulbs turn on above their heads.' For me, making that connection, and seeing it happen, is like scoring a goal in hockey - worthy of a celebratory internal 'fist-pump.' If I'm having a good day teaching, I leave the classroom on a natural high that lasts for hours."

Lehman is equally enthusiastic.

"Frankly, I can't think of myself doing anything other than being a university professor; I love my job," he said. "I'm passionate about my research and I truly enjoy getting to know students. So, I love teaching because it enables me to do both things. Moreover, there's a real sense of legacy when I catch the interest of a first-year student who may have never heard of anthropology, let alone primate studies. In time, I have the opportunity to work with and advise some students as advanced undergraduates. Then, it's a joy to see them move on to become professional academics at U of T and other universities."

Viewers will have the opportunity to vote for the professor of their choice following the lecture until the next day at 3 p.m. From March 31 to April 5 at 6 p.m., viewers can cast votes for any of the finalists.

To cast a vote:
• visit tvo.org

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