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McGill Reporter
May 25, 2000 - Volume 32 Number 17
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Sure beats an apple

Recalling March's well-attended forum on teaching and the student concerns voiced at that gathering, Vice-Principal (Academic) Luc Vinet muses "some students wondered if McGill cared about teaching. Of course we do, but maybe we don't show it enough."

In a bid to demonstrate the University's commitment to quality teaching, McGill is creating the Principal's Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

The awards will be available to teachers from all disciplines and each prize will be worth $5,000. The awards will recognize pedagogical excellence from teachers at four different levels -- one prize apiece will be presented each year to a professor, an associate professor, an assistant professor and a faculty lecturer.

Faculties will submit their nominations for the award — they can only forward one candidate per teaching rank — to the principal. Some of the qualities to be considered include dedication to teaching, ability to engage students, mastery of the subject matter and clarity of presentation.

A selection committee composed of the principal, the vice-principal (academic), the director of the Centre for University Teaching and Learning, an undergraduate, a graduate student and four teachers from each of the different ranks, will select the winners.

The awards will be handed out at the fall convocation. "We want to give exceptional teaching a high profile," Vinet says.

The McCord rounds the bases

Jackie Robinson

Most young Montreal baseball fans will tell you that the history of baseball in Quebec began with the birth of the Expos in 1969. But as anybody who has visited the McCord Museum's latest exhibition, Play-Ball Montreal, a Century of Baseball in Quebec, will attest, the sport has enjoyed a long and rich history in this city.

Drawn primarily from the private collection of Montreal magician Alain Choquette, Play-Ball Montreal is a collection of photographs, journal entries, baseball cards, videotapes, old uniforms and other memorabilia that have been collected to narrate the history of baseball in Quebec.

The exhibition chronicles that tale from the formation of the first amateur leagues and the construction of the province's first ballparks in the late 19th century, to the current day Expos.

Most interesting, perhaps, is what the exhibit terms the "signal event in the history of baseball in Montreal" — the arrival of the first African-American to play in the major leagues, Jackie Robinson.

While Robinson officially broke the colour barrier when he first suited up for the Dodgers in 1947, Dodger General Manager Branch Rickey's plan to integrate the major leagues and the Negro leagues was first tested in Montreal a year earlier.

Having finally found "a player with the guts not to fight back," Rickey assigned Robinson to the Montreal Royals of the International League for the 1946 season. In the course of leading his team to the league title, Robinson went on to win the International League batting championship before being called-up to the parent club in 1947. Having played MVP-calibre baseball with the Dodgers for nine seasons, Robinson was inducted in the baseball Hall of Fame shortly after his retirement in 1956.

Play-Ball Montreal, A Century of Baseball in Quebec, continues at the McCord Museum until October 22, 2000.

Saluted by the city

The Académie des Grands Montréalais recently paid tribute to a pair of scholars who distinguished themselves while pursuing their doctorates at McGill.

The academy each year hands out awards for the best theses written at Montreal's four universities. These Prix d'excellence are presented in three categories: social sciences and humanities, health sciences and natural sciences and engineering.

Two of the prizes this year went to recent McGill PhD graduates.

Theodore Folkerth, who did his PhD under English professor Michael Bristol, won for his thesis on Shakesperean soundscapes.

"My guiding intuition throughout this work," wrote Folkerth in his application for the prize, "has been that Shakespeare and his contemporaries had a radically different relationship to sound than we do."

For instance, Shakespeare played with the notion of public speech, often Church or state-sanctioned "official" truths read out to large gatherings and a tool used to bind together communities.

Folkerth's prize marks the second win in a row for McGill arts graduates.

Alex Therien won the medical sciences prize for work that described two novel mechanisms of sodium pump regulation and the role played by a small protein in modulating the cellular transportation of sodium and potassium.

This research had already garnered Therien, who studied under biochemistry professor Rhoda Blostein, first authorship of four published articles in peer-reviewed journals.

"Of the PhD and postdoctoral students supervised by Dr. Blostein over a period of 25 years, he was, without doubt, the best," wrote Professor Philip Branton, chair of biocemisty, in support of Therien's bid for the prize.

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