Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

October 11, 2002

Latin American community names U of G professor 'Best Educator'

A University of Guelph professor has received the Latin American Achievement Award for best educator, one of several awards presented by the Latin American community in Canada in recognition of outstanding contributions to culture, education, business, athletics and community service.

Prof. Jorge Nef, Department of Rural Extension Studies, received the honour at gala event that was held in Toronto recently and attended by more than 2,500 people. The awards ceremony included 14 categories with 41 nominees. It is an annual recognition the Spanish speaking community confers upon individuals of Latin American origin who significantly contribute to Canadian society.

“It was for me an honour and a surprise,” Nef said of the award. “I think it
is important to recognize educational achievements in a long tradition of Latin American educators: the Venezuelan Bello, Argentinean Sarmiento, the Puerto Rican Eugenio Maria de Hostos, the Mexican Vasconcelos, and the Brazilian Freire, and numerous others. This is good for the community as it is a linkage with our collective contribution to building Canadian culture and identity.”

Nef, a native of Chile, joined U of G’s faculty in 1975 as a political science professor and later moved to the Department of Rural Extension Studies. In 1997, he received a prestigious Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations lifetime teaching award and in 1998, the U of G Faculty Association Distinguished Professor Teaching Award, the second time he received the honour in a decade.

Known for his longtime commitment to excellence in teaching and education, Nef has always professed that teaching awards go beyond individual recognition. They also recognize a position, a philosophy and practice in education, he said. He also has emphasized that there is little distinction between teacher and learner, and that there should be a similar seamlessness between teaching and research. “Education in this context is much more than teaching, though it encompasses teaching excellence,” he said. “It involves the contribution to cultural and institution-building and refers to thinking and doing education beyond national boundaries.”

Nef has spent time teaching, consulting or doing research in Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Europe, Peru, Uruguay, Papua-New Guinea, Ecuador, Argentina and Brazil. He is recognized nationwide for his contributions to Latin American studies in Canada and is a fellow of the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean at York University and is a former president of the Canadian Association of Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

He is the author of 14 books and monographs, over 80 peer-reviewed chapters and articles and some 70 papers and presentations. In recent years, Nef has also made a literary career in poetry, with one book and numerous poems in anthologies and journals, as well as international poetry readings.

Prof. Jorge Nef
Department of Rural Extension Studies
(519) 824-4120, Ext. 2168

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