By Spencer Turcotte
The instructor who has helped hundreds of students publish the Ryersonian every week has won a prestigious, new award to honour teaching excellence.
Peter Bakogeorge is one of eight part-time instructors in the Faculty of Communication and Design to win the inaugural award for contract lecturers.
“I think it’s really important for the great contribution that CUPE contract employees make that there be this recognition of someone for what they’ve been able to offer in teaching,” said Bakogeorge.
Bakogeorge said he went along with the award because it recognizes the unionized contract workers, who are a part of CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees).
The Deans’ Teaching Award for contract lecturers recognizes those who have demonstrated continuing teaching excellence and achievement in instruction. Two award recipients are named from each faculty and they receive a certificate of recognition and $2,000. Faculty, staff, and students can submit nominations.
Although Bakogeorge is a part-time instructor at Ryerson, his impact is constant.
Working as an instructor in the Ryersonian newsroom, he interacts with about 100 to 150 students each year. As well, Bakogeorge helps between 25 and 30 Master of Journalism students per year find their internships.
After teaching journalism at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), Bakogeorge began teaching at Ryerson in September 2000. Ever since, he said, “whatever small things I can do to turn out good journalists is the most important thing.”
Bakogeorge also says that it encourages him to keep teaching when he sees past students doing impressive works of professional, careful, critical journalism to help make it the important role that it has to be in society.
“When I see somebody out there doing well, not that I claim credit for how well they’re doing, but at least I know that somewhere along their path to doing good stuff that we met,” said Bakogeorge. “It’s an inspiration to keep going on.”
He says that he has always held students to high standards. As well, the ability to take complicated ideas and communicate them in easily understood words is critical in the business, according to Bakogeorge.
He also said that if somebody likes his teaching, he hopes it is because he can provide students with what it takes to become a good news reporter.
Bakogeorge says his teaching style takes a practical approach.
“I make them write a lot of news stories, and critique thoroughly the news stories that they write, with the belief that’s the way they’re going to learn more,” he said.
Janice Neil, associate professor and chair of the Ryerson School of Journalism, said Bakogeorge’s insistence on detail has helped with the success of students.
“He’s a ‘stickler for detail’ which is crucial for student journalists — but always kind.”
Students and colleagues of Peter refer to him as a “gifted and dedicated instructor” who has influenced hundreds of students, said Neil.
She also talked about the importance of the award now being available to part-time lecturers.
The Deans’ Teaching Award had only been available to full-time faculty before now and Neil said it really bothered her because of the number of part-time people, like Bakogeorge, who are central to the school.
“I was really delighted when they brought this [award] in and it demonstrates how important the part-time people are to our faculty.”
FCAD’s director of communications and special projects, Marie Crosta, said that when looking for award recipients, the committee representing faculty from FCAD searched for instructors who are passionate about teaching.
She also said that FCAD is proud of the fact that CUPE lecturers can now receive the award. With the large role they play in their programs, it is important they are recognized as part of the school community, said Crosta.
“They are fantastic teachers and this is one small way we can thank them.”