RMC Alumni Association Communications Coordinator 25366 Anna-Michelle Shewfelt recently had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Irwin Streight, one of the two winners of the 2021 Class of 1965 Teaching Excellence Award. Read on for more on what this prestigious award means to him.
eVeritas: Talk about what this recognition means for you as a professor.
Dr. Streight: Well, firstly, the recognition comes as a surprise since I do not consider myself an award-worthy teacher. And, of course, it is a great honour when one’s students affirm that, indeed, that is how they see you. I’ve been in the university professor business for over 30 years; along with research in literary studies that is what I have spent my portion of gifts and abilities doing with my “one wild and precious life,” as poet Mary Oliver puts it. And so, it is greatly rewarding to know that my students and colleagues think the job has been well done.
eVeritas: For those who may not know, briefly describe your academic background and your position at the College.
Dr. Streight: I came to the College in 1997 to work on contract developing courseware and teaching distance learning courses for the fledgling Division of Continuing Studies, under the tireless and generous leadership of LCdr Robert Charest. I stuck around and eventually became an indeterminate member of the English Department and now a full professor. How lucky I am to be found among such personable and encouraging colleagues and to have an academic career in an institution that has greatly supported my initiatives and research interests.
eVeritas: Describe your favourite moment(s) with your students.
Dr. Streight: I teach a course in Literature and Spirituality, an upper-year seminar in the Department of English, Culture, and Communication. Some of my proudest moments have been during field trips with students in this course. We visit a mosque, and once had the opportunity to kneel and join in Friday prayers; we visit a Buddhist retreat centre and engage in meditation exercises, cross-legged on cushions; and we listen to a lecture on Church doctrine while seated on hard wooden pews in an Anglican cathedral. I am always impressed with the depth of intelligence, the courageous openness, and the social maturity of the upper year arts students at RMC. For several years I volunteered as a faculty representative at the annual Ontario Universities Fair held in Toronto’s Air Canada Centre. Standing on the carpet meeting with parents and prospective students, alongside poised and articulate officer cadets about to graduate, whom I recall as rather rough-edged in my first-year English classes, I am happily made aware that the “university with a difference” has helped to produce women and men of true character and exemplary officers-to-be. And I feel grateful to have had a role to play in that.
The RMC Alumni Association is proud to sponsor the Class of 1965 Teaching Excellence Award thanks to the generous support of the Class of 1965.