McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

McMaster professor takes top national teaching award

By Susan Emigh
Published: February 8, 2008
Patangi (Chari) Rangachari
Patangi (Chari) Rangachari, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Medicine.

A McMaster University professor of medicine who encourages troublemakers has won a national award for his teaching and educational leadership.

Patangi (Chari) Rangachari was one of 10 winners of the 3M National Teaching Fellowships announced today by the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and 3M Canada.

Rangachari wants the university to stop being a mere teaching shop, serving immediate rather than long term needs.  He sees the university as a forum for disciplined dissent in which it is the professor’s task to create a cadre of enthusiastic troublemakers who will take society by the scruff of the neck and force it to examine real not perceived needs.

He is an expert on problem-based learning, to which the physician was converted, after some preliminary doubts, when he arrived at McMaster as a medical researcher in 1983. His problem-setting skills inspire former students to write of him in glowing terms: "Thank you Chari, for allowing us to explore, free from the chains of boring professors and memorized exams." 

For Rangachari, a professor emeritus, the university is a privileged space in which the autonomous learner should be free to explore new answers to even newer fields, not memorizing old answers to even older problems.

The annual award is the only one of its kind in Canada, given to individuals who demonstrate an exceptionally high degree of leadership and commitment to the improvement of university teaching across the country. The award includes a citation and an invitation to take part in a three-day retreat later this year to discuss new ideas in teaching.

"We consider how these educators extend their reach and impact beyond their discipline, beyond their institutions," said Arshad Ahmad, program co-ordinator for the 3M National Teaching Fellowships.

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