Bernard Suits, recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award, 1982


Bernard Suits has been teaching in the Department of Philosophy since 1966, and has held the rank of professor since 1972. He now serves also as associate dean for graduate affairs in the Faculty of Arts. Professor Suits is an active and well known scholar and writer. His recent book The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia is well known and widely acclaimed. His teaching has taken almost every possible form: lecture courses, both large and small, seminars, public lectures, colloquia, university courses at off-campus centres, and the supervision of graduate students. Professor Suits was nominated for the Distinguished Teacher Award in recognition of two attributes: the brilliance of his lectures, and the intellectual impact of all his contacts with students. The letter from his chairman began with the sentence: “There is little disagreement in the department that Suits is one of the most brilliant lecturers within anyone's experience.” Students are quick to sense this ability. One of the thoughtful student letters comprising the nomination - this one signed by nineteen undergraduate students, including this year's alumni gold medal winner in arts - has the following statement: “Professor Suits' classes usually spend the first few days of term being moved to larger and larger rooms.” These students continue: “Still, it is clear [that] professor Suits has a gift which is not suitably reflected by figures and statistics. He really cares about his students' intellectual development, encouraging in every way he can their ability to think for themselves.” Another document supporting the nomination makes a different point: “It is professor Suits' ability to appeal to students of varied and diverse academic backgrounds which best distinguishes him as a superb teacher.” For final comments we return to letters from some former graduate students of Bernard Suits. One, who is now himself established as a successful teacher of Philosophy, simply states: “I have always tried to model my own teaching after his.” A former PhD student describes professor Suits' style as a thesis supervisor: “He knows just when to threaten, when to cajole, and when to praise.” And in the words of yet another former graduate student: “I am sure that many of us have come away from his courses with more than a knowledge of the subject and more than an appreciation of [his] personality: we have come away with an excitement about and grasp of critical thinking.”

[Professor Suits died in 2007]