By Jasmine Westerdahl
Dr. Peter Katz, assistant professor of English, was named the 2018 Educator of the Year during Colloquy on Thursday, April 5. The mass population of PUC—consisting of students, staff, faculty, and administration—was present to recognize Katz and commend him for this distinguished award. Katz has been teaching at PUC since 2015.
President Robert Cushman welcomed everyone and gave a short prayer to commence the program. He voiced the importance of the day as he said, “Today we are celebrating the current Educator of the Year as well as passing the lightsaber on to the new distinguished Educator of the Year.” Cushman then introduced last year’s award recipient, Dr. Kent Davis, associate professor of chemistry and chair of the chemistry department.
Davis gave a brief speech before revealing this year’s winner. His speech encouraged students to begin incorporating a positive mental attitude towards their education. He emphasized the difference between “having” to know something and “getting” to know something. Davis stated, “How lucky we are. Getting to learn for a living.” He explained how thinking this way shifts our perspective on learning and inspiring a life-long pursuit of knowledge.
After his speech, Davis announced Katz as this year’s Educator of the Year. Excited murmurs filled the church sanctuary and long applause followed the announcement.
Katz’s partner, Ariane Katz, narrated a slideshow filled with photos of him throughout his life. She shared stories pertaining to his childhood, teenage, and adult life and his special interests and hobbies such as Kenpo (a martial art), piano playing, computer games, and outdoor adventures.
Dr. Sara Kakazu reflected on her time as Katz’s English professor by including entertaining anecdotes, poking fun at him with good humor. She concluded her speech by saying, “I remember a student unafraid to be funny, to be strange, to be himself. He gave us things we as professors were glad to remember; gave us a person that we’re glad to know, as he does in a different way for his own students now.”
Dominique Townsend, Katz’s teaching assistant, spoke fondly of him as she revealed her observations of his dedication towards his students. She said, “Peter goes above and beyond for his students, co-workers, and hyper-anxious, over-active TA.”
Dr. Maria Rankin-Brown, professor of English and chair of the department, and Dr. Linda Gill, professor of English, presented a hilarious acrostic poem. The audience found the professors’ performance entertaining as laughter filled the sanctuary.
According to Gill, Katz is “actively engaged in the scholarship of his field.”
Rankin-Brown says Katz is a valued community member and states, “He contributes his time and expertise to many people on this campus.” Examples of his involvement include: Title IX campus representative, Amnesty International faculty sponsor, English Honor Society sponsor, regular Sabbath School presenter, and numerous other activities.
In his three short years as a professor at PUC, Katz has made an impression on his students. It is an honor to be voted Educator of the Year, and Katz joins a distinguished group of educators who have made an impact.