Brock Fenton (1993)

fentonAffiliation at the time of the award: University of Western Ontario, Biology.

Citation: Brock Fenton was already an accomplished teacher when he arrived at York University in 1986. In 1984, he won a teaching award while at Carleton University and in 1986, he received a provincial award (OCUFA) for teaching. His outstanding contributions are all the more remarkable given that he has been the Chair of the Depart ment, a position often so demanding in administrative tasks that teaching responsibilities are reduced. “In class, Dr. Fenton’s lectures are concise, well-planned, and organized. He speaks clearly and emphatically and is capable of keeping students’ attention and interest.” “He treats students with individual respect and makes himself very approachable. He encourages class discussion.”

Brock Fenton has given several conference talks on teaching and learning topics for colleagues at York University and beyond. He has served on the Biology Department’s Teaching Committee and the Curriculum Committee of the Faculty of Pure and Applied Science. He has contributed to sessions on teaching and grading in laboratory courses during “TA Days”, York’s orientation for teaching assistants. He has organized and led workshops on teaching at both the 1991 and 1992 annual conferences of the Canadian Society of Zoologists. The emphasis of these workshops has been on how to be an effective teacher, particularly in large introductory classes in biology. These workshops generated much enthusiasm and led to fresh approaches to teaching of introductory biology on several campuses across the country. Brock Fenton plays a leadership role by increasing public awareness of the import ance and excitement of science through public lectures, workshops for teachers, popular writing and the electronic media.

A Focus

Teaching and Research, research and teaching … the two prime duties of university professors. There is a common perception that these two tasks are conflicting activities, and “everyone” who has spent any time on a university campus has a story about Professor X, recently tenured because of a strong research record apparently matched by a disinterest in students and teaching. For those who care to listen, other students tell you about another distinguished researcher, Professor Y, who touched the lives of many students by introducing them to the wonders of the unknown.

Professors should not be teachers or researchers and, as illustrated by many 3M Fellows, they must be both. These people are stalwart and distinguished researchers and teachers. In my view, they epitomize the job of professor. I believe this because universities are places where people should learn how to explore the limits to our knowledge. While professors are in the vanguard of this quest, they are facilitators more than leaders. Professors who are active as teachers and researchers help to create a positive learning environment which extends from lectures to tutorials and labs.