Professor Jeremy Lopez of the Faculty of Arts & Science’s Department of English has been awarded the President’s Teaching Award — the highest honour for teaching at the University of Toronto — recognizing sustained excellence in teaching and significant contributions in educational leadership at the University.
“This award is a great honour, not least because of how high the level of teaching is at U of T,” says Lopez. “I feel lucky to have been supported by and to have had the opportunity to learn from so many other distinguished teachers since I joined the Faculty.”
A scholar of Early Modern literature, Shakespeare and Drama and Renaissance literature, Lopez joined the department in 2005 and has since taught a wide range of undergraduate and graduate courses including large-lecture first-year courses, summer study abroad courses and graduate pedagogical training courses.
As the associate chair and director of undergraduate studies of the department from 2014 to 2018, Lopez oversaw a major restructuring of the undergraduate curriculum which was implemented in 2018 and which now strikes a balance between increased structure and increased flexibility for students.
“The University of Toronto prides itself on hiring faculty who bring cutting-edge research to their classes, while providing a learning experience that is both intellectually stimulating and immensely enjoyable,” says Paul Stevens, chair of the Department of English. “Jeremy Lopez is a model of the kind of charismatic teaching and brilliant scholarship that makes the University of Toronto such a world-class institution.”
But Lopez says being a good teacher also comes down to the students in the classroom.
“It’s easier to be a good teacher when you have good students and so I am also very grateful to all the students who have made my job so interesting and rewarding.”
As a President’s Teaching Award recipient, Lopez will also serve as a member of the University of Toronto Teaching Academy — a group of educators working to increase the profile of the University’s commitment to high quality learning and teaching.
“As a member of the academy I particularly look forward to advising on matters of concern to junior faculty,” says Lopez. “In my own experience as a new faculty member, I found the learning curve in the classroom to be rather steep; I think the more opportunities junior faculty have to discuss — with each other and with senior colleagues — teaching strategies, successes and even failures, the better.”
As for the best piece of teaching advice that Lopez picked up through the years and still uses to this day?
Let students leave a few minutes early.
“You don’t want to be making your most important point in the last two or three minutes when everyone is getting ready to leave,” says Lopez. “I still find this advice very hard to follow. But on those days when I have condensed and organized my lecture material so that I finish up with a few minutes remaining, I feel very good about my presentation of the material and my ability to keep the students focused all the way through.”