Stephen Smith, recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award, 1980


Stephen M. Smith has been teaching in the department of biology since 1971, and has been an associate professor since 1977. Professor Smith is an active scholar in the field of entomology, specializing in the biology of insect populations. His teaching has included a broad range of undergraduate and graduate courses in biology. He has also been active in the integrated studies programme, through his service on the Academic Board. The nomination paper of professor Smith for the Distinguished Teacher Award was a bulky document full of letters of commendation from his present and former students, both undergraduate and graduate. It also included letters of support from his faculty colleagues and the chairman of biology. The profile of Stephen Smith which emerges from these statements is that of a serious, demanding and dedicated teacher. He delivers meticulously prepared lectures, which are both rigorous and informative, in a way which captures the interest and attention of classes of all sizes. He also puts great personal effort into laboratory instruction and places great stress on the quality of materials for laboratory teaching. Steve Smith is very popular with his students, and for all the right reasons. The chairman of biology makes the point that: “His popularity with our students is a reflection of the quality of his teaching and his commitment to the students, yet his courses are amongst the most rigorous and demanding of those offered in this department.” Former students of professor Smith have many warm memories of him. Writes one: “Though almost tyrannical in class, he instilled in me a desire to learn.” Another fondly recalls: “at the start of class in his booming 'Good morning, class.' which became the symbolic start of our lecture and more frequently a wake-up call.” His lasting influence on them is perhaps best put by an alumna of both the bachelor's and master's programmes in biology who is now on her way to a research career. She writes: “in particular, his concern that students truly understand the underlying concepts and his insistence on intellectual rigour, have provided me with a standard to which I compare my own work.” Professor Smith is being honoured also for his supervision of graduate students. In the words of a colleague: “The industry and dedication that he devoted to undergraduate teaching typify also his supervision of graduate students, and theses prepared under his direction are characterized by their lucidity and perspicacity.”