Douglas Letson, recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award, 1981

English, St. Jerome's College

Douglas Letson is associate professor of English at the University of St. Jerome's College, where he has taught since 1967. Professor Letson is a specialist in old and middle English and is a respected scholar who publishes in the best journals in the field. Professor Letson has also served as chairman of English at St. Jerome's, as assistant dean, and for six years as dean. When a specialist in old English is nominated for the Distinguished Teacher Award, one suspects that the nomination reflects the achievements of the individual rather more than the popularity of the subject. Professor Letson's achievements as a teacher are, indeed, formidable. Those writing in support of professor Letson's nomination all agree that he presents superb lectures, which are clear, interesting, witty, and stimulating. His students see the deeper purpose behind the smooth presentation. Writes one: “All his lectures were orderly and thoroughly prepared, geared not merely to inform, but to awaken in the student an appreciation of the literary achievements of man, of their part in history, and their influence on the development of man.” Good teaching requires a great deal of work outside of the classroom. The president of St. Jerome's assesses this aspect of professor Letson's teaching in these words: “From my personal association with him I have learned that he considers that the preparation of classes and the assiduous marking of exams and assignments is a sacred trust.” Even though professor Letson's performance as a teacher is outstanding by any measure, his most durable contributions will be those which arise from the quality of his relationship with his students. Father Choate describes it in these words: “It is also important that in word and deed Dr. Letson manifests a serious and continuous concern for integrity in the educational process. In so doing, he teaches his students a valuable and much needed lesson in a time when there is a widespread loss of confidence in public institutions.” I shall leave it to a student to put the case for this award most eloquently, and I quote the closing paragraph of her supporting letter: “But most of all, Doug inspires in his students a love for learning and desire for excellence. I cannot even imagine anyone submitting work to Dr. Letson that was not the best. I cannot think of anyone who has so strongly influenced for the good so many people. Dr. Letson is not only a brilliant teacher and an insightful scholar, but a warm, compassionate human being whose presence enlightens and ennobles us all. It is such men as he who make this university a special place.”