York profs Bowman, Delaney make TVO’s top 10

Two York professors have been named among the top-10 finalists in TVO’s Best Lecturer Competition.

Rob Bowman, professor of ethnomusicology in York’s Department of Music, Faculty of Fine Arts, and Paul Delaney, professor of physics & astronomy in the Faculty of Science & Engineering at York, were named finalists by TVO Chair & CEO and York alumna Isabel Bassett (MA ’73, LLD ’01), Tuesday in Ottawa. The finalists will each have an upcoming lecture taped by TVO for a fall series that will include viewer voting to select the winner.

Rob Bowman

Paul Delaney

Bowman, who received both a combined honours degree in music & anthropology (’78) and a master of fine arts degree (’82) from York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, taught his first course here 27 years ago at age 22. He said his success is partly due to his efforts at “treating a 300-seat lecture hall as if it was a 20-seat classroom”, and the energy he transmits when he lectures. “It’s the key to life, the transformation of energy, whether you’re playing music, teaching a class or making love.”

Bowman is coordinator of the Music Department’s graduate program in ethnomusicology and is frequently in demand as a writer, commentator and broadcaster. He recently appeared in a feature film “mockumentary” about the music industry (see story in the Sept. 7 issue of YFile) in which he plays a character very much like himself.

TVO will tape Bowman during his regularly scheduled class time on Sept. 26 when he plans to look at “Where Meaning is Located in Music”. The lecture will include a comparison of several different versions of the song Try a Little Tenderness and lead into a discussion of the need for changes to current copyright laws.

Delaney, who has been a popular science lecturer at York for 19 years, said he was honoured to be selected and pleased to know that the empathy he tries to show his students was conveyed by the film clips of his lectures that were shown to judges. “I enjoy working with students,” he said, “and it’s good to know that seems to have been transparent to the people at TVO.”

Delaney said his lecture, which will be taped by TVO on Sept. 21, currently has a working title of “When Science Fact meets Science Fiction” and will be given to York’s Astronomy Club in the Paul A. Delaney Gallery (otherwise known as Rm. 320) in Bethune College. In his talk, Delaney hopes to show how many ideas in science fiction writing have pointed the way to current reality (one of his examples is from “Star Trek” – Captain James T. Kirk’s communicator as a precursor to the flip phone). He also hopes to show how some apparently new discoveries were already science reality but the general public had not yet realized it.

One of the finalists in the competition is a York alumnus. Michael Higgins (MA ’71, PhD ’79), is a professor of English and religious studies at Waterloo University.

The Best Lecturer Competition began with a student survey and 359 nominations from universities throughout Ontario, which netted 63 final nominees. A panel of judges, including columnist Robert Fulford, playwright Andrew Moodie, and Literary Review of Canada editor Bronwyn Drainie, shortlisted the nominees to 30 –including four from York (see story in the Aug. 2, 2005 issue of YFile) – before selecting 10 finalists. Judges looked for lecturers who could explain their thesis clearly, were passionate about their topic and conveyed their views with confidence and flair.

The final 10 lecturers will each give a televised lecture on TVO’s “Big Ideas” program this fall. Viewers will get the chance to vote online or by telephone for their favourite lecturer following each broadcast. The lectures will be aired, two a week for five weeks, beginning Saturday, Oct. 8, at 1pm. The winner will be announced on Nov. 12.

TD Meloche-Monnex, the sponsor of the competition, will award the winning university a $10,000 scholarship.

Ottawa’s Carleton University had three of its professors – all psychologists – included in the top 10. York and the University of Toronto each had two nominees, while Laurentian, Ryerson and Waterloo are each represented with one lecturer finalist.

For more information about Ontario’s Best Lecturer Competition and a profile of each nominated lecturer, visit the Best Lecturer pages on TVO’s Big Ideas Web site.