Terry Downey, recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award, 1988

Political Science

Terry Downey is one of our own graduates, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from St. Jerome's College. His roots are in teaching. He attended the Ontario College of Education and Althouse College, then taught high school for some years before returning to studies in political science at the University of Western Ontario. After completing his PhD, he was appointed to the faculty at the University of Waterloo in 1977. Terry has served as chairman of the Department of Political Science since 1985. As chairman, he has stimulated the creation of a vigorous offering of courses for both undergraduate and graduate students. A colleague writes: “He has encouraged faculty to develop new courses which reflect individual research interests, believing as he does, that research and teaching are indissoluble and that the pursuit of such interests is at the root of informed, enthusiastic teaching.” By this, Terry has spread his dedication for teaching throughout his department and he has led by example. He has consistently been at the top of his department in student evaluations since he first came to Waterloo. Another colleague writes: “Terry Downey is, without a doubt, a gifted and dedicated teacher who has won the respect of virtually every student who ever completed a course evaluation in one of his courses. That is no mean feat; it is achieved by genuine concern for students, by enthusiasm and energy.” Still another colleague notes that: “What is noteworthy about Terry is that he teaches courses in the fields of public administration and public policy analysis which, while central and important in their own right, are not the most stimulating or enticing areas of study in the discipline. Still, he attracts large classes,” and as a former student wrote: “His enthusiasm for the subject matter could make even the driest subjects interesting and relevant.” Students find themselves challenged in his courses. They are not left to be observers but are drawn in as participants. Should a student make a strong point that runs counter to professor Downey's view, she is not silenced; instead, she is applauded. However, possibly the most admirable quality is Terry's devotion to the welfare of his students. He works hard at being accessible to students who cannot come to his office during normal office hours. He works hard to adopt a non-sexist approach to his material. He works hard at offering a helping hand through the University bureaucracy, or in writing letters of recommendation. He does this in spite of a heavy workload as chairman of his department, and beyond the demands of his family. Students receive so much of his time and energy because, in the words of a colleague, he believes that: “the greatest contribution he can make to the University is the development of the quest for learning among his students. And in this he has been very successful.” A current graduate student sums it up: “in my six years at the University of Waterloo as both an undergraduate and now a graduate student, I have not known a professor who is as universally respected and admired, nor one who has shown me how to question fundamental assumptions with such an open mind.”