Campus News

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News Release

September 10, 2002

UBC Zoologist named first distinguished visiting teaching professor

This month will mark the inaugural appointment of a Distinguished Visiting Teaching Professor at the University of Guelph. The program was created to recognize and highlight the theory, practice and scholarship of teaching by bringing a notable and respected teacher to campus each year to spend several days interacting with faculty, students and staff.

Developed to complement the teaching excellence of U of G’s 3M Fellows, the program is intended to focus especially on the scholarship of teaching, said Maureen Mancuso, associate vice-president (academic) and a political science professor. “The fellows want the program to capture and celebrate the enthusiasm, passion and dedication that their late colleague Prof. Norman Gibbins brought to his teaching,” she said.

Gibbins, who taught in the Department of Microbiology from 1967 until his death in April 2000, was one of U of G’s — and Canada’s — most highly regarded teachers, earning a 1985 Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations Award (OCUFA), the 1985 CBS Award for Teaching Excellence and a 1987 3M Teaching Fellowship. “Norman was the epitome of a good teacher and a scholar devoted to education,” said Prof. Ernie McFarland, Department of Physics, another 3M Fellow. “His lectures were crafted carefully, and he had the utmost respect and concern for his students.”

Gibbins also made many important contributions to education outside the classroom, said McFarland. He served as chair of Guelph’s Board of Undergraduate Studies for seven years and was director of the AKADEMIA program for three years. He wrote a number of papers in educational publications, including a very thoughtful article in Teaching Forum on U of G’s learning objectives as the definition of a university. He was active in the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and served on the 3M Fellowship selection committee.

The first Distinguished Visiting Teaching Professor is zoologist Lee Gass of the University of British Columbia, who is also this year’s CASE/CCAE Canadian Professor of the Year. He will visit campus Sept. 23 to 26, meeting with faculty, program committees, undergraduate and graduate students. He will also give a public lecture Sept. 24 at 4 p.m. at the Arboretum Centre, offering his “Reflections on a Decade of Innovation in Science Education: Integration, Interaction and Interdisciplinarity.”

A graduate of Chico State College and the University of Oregon, Gass taught at Oregon before joining UBC in 1974. As a researcher, he focused on hummingbirds and energetics, but in recent years, he has increasingly devoted his time to developing theory for understanding phenomena commonly encountered in the classroom. His primary interest lies in transforming how undergraduate science education engages both students and professors, particularly in building true communities of scholars. He is a recipient of both the Killam Teaching Award and a 3M Teaching Fellowship in 1999 and is also a professional sculptor.

“Given his record of innovation in teaching and curriculum design, his scholarly contributions to pedagogy and his reputation for excellence, Lee was the perfect person to be our first Distinguished Visiting Teaching Professor,” Mancuso said.

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