Peter Balakian, Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor in humanities and professor of English, has been selected as the 2019 recipient of the Jerome Balmuth Award for Teaching.
Balakian is the author of seven books of poems, including the 2016 Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry, Ozone Journal. His memoir, Black Dog of Fate, received several awards, including the 1998 PEN/Martha Albrand Prize for the Art of the Memoir and was named a best book of the year for the New York Times, LA Times, and Publisher’s Weekly.
“Professor Balakian, as an author and activist, belongs to the world,” said Provost and Dean of the Faculty Tracey Hucks ’87, MA’90. “As a teacher, he has always dedicated himself to the students of this University. I congratulate him on receiving the Balmuth award — he has transformed generations of undergraduates.”
The recipient of many awards — including a Presidential Medal and the Moves Khoranatsi Medal from the Republic of Armenia; Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships; the Emily Clark Balch Prize for poetry; the Spendlove Prize for Social Justice, Tolerance and Diplomacy; and Anahid Literary Prize — Balakian has also been featured broadly in the national and international media.
Since 1980 Professor Balakian has taught courses in American literature, creative writing workshops, as well as courses in genocide studies that have been part of the curriculum for Core Distinction and Peace and Conflict Studies of which he has been an advisory board member since 1986.
“Peter’s endless curiosity, his willingness to turn every encounter into an opportunity for learning and teaching, his ability to engage with the world imaginatively, intellectually, and politically, set a high bar for those who would follow in his footsteps,” wrote one of Balakian’s former students.
“For Colgate students such as me,” wrote another, “Peter is the family member we were able to select, the great ancestral teacher whose care and power has nurtured us through our own scholarly and personal lives.”
The Balmuth award, named in honor of the late Jerome Balmuth, Harry Emerson Fosdick Professor of philosophy and religion, emeritus, was established by Mark Siegel ’73 in 2009 to celebrate and recognize superb teaching by Colgate faculty of undergraduates. The prize is awarded to a faculty member whose teaching is distinctively successful and transformative, recognizing that such distinction can be achieved through a broad spectrum of methodologies ranging from traditional to innovative.
The award will be officially presented to Balakian during a dinner and ceremony on May 2.