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2017 CAMWS College Teaching Award Winner: Patrick M. Owens

The 2016-2017 recipient of the CAMWS Award for Excellence in College Teaching is Patrick M. Owens of Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, Wyoming. 

Patrick M. Owens earned his B.A. at Fordham, where he won the Award for Excellence in the Classics; he taught at Fordham Preparatory School before his post-baccalaureate studies in Kentucky and Rome, finishing with a doctorate from the Salesian University. He has taught at the pre-college level and college level, with both Latin and English as the language of instruciton. Patrick has organized conferences in Latin pedagogy and Latin immersion experiences for educators and students alike. He is actively engaged in scholarly research widely ranging fields: digital humanities, reception of Latin epic, medieval and neo-Latin literature and lexicography (yes, he’s the Owens of the Morgan-Owens Lexicon), patristics, and philosophy.

Today, though, we honor Patrick as an outstanding teacher of Latin and Greek. He identifies three principles in his teaching: First, he is determined to meet students where they are—in the cafeteria, through intramural sports, with movie nights and dinners at his house.  Next, to meet their learning needs, Patrick employs a variety of proven methodologies that include very traditional Latin composition assignments, interactive videos on You Tube, and Latin immersion camping trips. For students with special learning needs, like dyslexia or autism, Patrick produced a full cast dramatic reading of their textbook (now publicly available) and also individualized tactile handouts and realia. Finally, Patrick is committed to making sure that his students see their language study as an introduction to a vast and indisciplinary cultural study that embraces ancient and medieval philosophical texts, Biblical, and patristic literature as well as the literature of the classical world—and he has developed texts to make this possible.

His students recognize what a rare teacher they have: An alumna now in graduate school writes, “His ideas and lesson plans are always challenging, engaging, and creative. I vividly recall one exceptionally exciting and demanding assignment from the poetry composition class: to relate our Thanksgiving holiday meals in Latin elegiac couplets.”

“Every class I have taken or observed has been efficient, informative, and engaging,” says another. “His student feels respected, valued, and able to approach him for help. But most importantly, he enkindles real love of the Latin language and its heritage of literature and culture.”

Yet a third student comments, “No matter what an individual student’s abilities are, Dr. Owens tailors his instruction during class to keep that student engaged and challenged. He pushes his students to stretch their limits, to go beyond what they would find merely convenient onto something better, something really worth working towards.”

We honor Patrick Owens’ commitment to challenging his students seek something really worthwhile, while providing them the support they need to meet that challenge, by awarding him the 2017 CAMWS Award for Excellence in College Teaching.