Robert Ryan, recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award, 2003

French Studies

Robert Ryan, an associate professor in French studies and a linguist whose field of specialization is the Acadian speech of Atlantic Canada, has been teaching at the University of Waterloo for over ten years. Although the courses Dr. Ryan teaches are not the most obvious candidates for student enthusiasm (grammar at the first-, second- and third-year levels, and theoretical and applied linguistics), students are enthusiastic in their comments on his teaching. Dr. Ryan also teaches FR 303 (Introduction to Linguistics) by distance education and at the graduate level. In the past three years, two students have written theses under his supervision, both of which were of very high quality. The French studies department has received numerous unsolicited comments from students, such as “Professor Ryan Rocks.” One student commented that “I was so impressed that he taught for the material to be understood and applied - not in order to give a test. I felt like I was truly here to learn.” Dr. Ryan is unstinting in the time he spends with individual students: his office is available to them virtually all day, every day. He spends countless hours with students and frequently double marks everything. He has offered courses and sections as overload in order to accommodate student need. In addition, he devotes time and detailed thought to curriculum development and developed a unique approach to teaching first-year French. He has initiated discussions in an effort to up-grade service in the language laboratory and meets with colleagues in the other language departments regarding professional language-learning issues. A colleague notes that “he is constantly aware that many of our students will go on to become teachers of French, at some level from primary to university, and sets high standards for them. With a firm belief in the value of language as it is spoken in its own environment, Dr. Ryan has twice accompanied our students to Nantes, at considerable personal cost.” Professor Ryan genuinely likes and respects his students and colleagues; his manner makes relations in the classroom and in the department pleasant and cordial. All of his extraordinary work, in addition to his very high-level of expertise and his meticulous preparation, inspires students and creates in them the deepest respect for their exceptionally dedicated professor.