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Jack MacIntosh finds teaching rewarding and would even do it for free.
the Gauntlet

Awards given to super-profs

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Life as a university student can be hectic. Between exams, term papers and making it to work on time, class can be a low priority.

But there are some classes you never miss. It could be the impending terror of missing content, but it is normally because you enjoy time spent there.

University of Calgary professors who found a way to make their lectures both interesting and relevant were honored at the Students' Union's annual teaching excellence awards April 30. Twenty-four teachers--13 winners and 11 honourable mentions--and four teaching assistants were chosen from social work to engineering.

SU vice-president Pam Weatherbee said the awards are held to emphasize the importance of recognizing professors who do a little extra to interact with students.

"When students respond to the way their professors are engaging them, that's really cool," said Weatherbee. "It's something we really like to see."

Candidates for the award receive multiple nominations from students. Once entries are in, the nominee's class fills out a detailed, anonymous form explaining how they felt about their professor's performance. The information is then passed on to a committee consisting of students-at-large and SU elected officials who make the final decisions.

All 28 winners were invited to a formal celebration dinner put on by the SU, where they were presented a scroll with selected comments from their student evaluations on it.

A popular sessional instructor, who announced he's leaving the university due to low pay, received the honour for his fifth time. Dr. Allison Dube teaches political theory and consistently tries to learn the name of every one of his students.

"[Dube] has won four years in a row, he is obviously doing something right," said Weatherbee. "That's something faculty that work with him or know of him should recognize. He can be someone that our faculty looks to because he's been so successful with students."

Dr. Jack MacIntosh was also recognized for engaging students. The modest philosophy professor said he's chalking his win up to chance, noting that there are many good teachers that could have been chosen.

"The nice thing about my department is that it's just a great subject, so you can't help enjoy teaching," he said. "We have a lot of good teachers in the department and I've learned a lot from them."

MacIntosh said his job is not only rewarding, but also "pretty easy." He explained teachers naturally want students to think rigorously about important questions and noted how nice it is when students present clear arguments to back up their point of view.

"[Teaching] is the sort of thing that we all do because, if we had enough money, we'd probably do it, if we were being paid or not--though maybe we wouldn't do quite so much of it," said MacIntosh.

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