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Bringing Life to Science, Science to Life

This year’s Metcalf Award goes to Peter Busher


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Metcalf Award winner Peter Busher spoke to us about a variety of topics. Click on a bulleted point below to hear his thoughts.


When Peter Busher heard he had been nominated for a Metcalf Award for Teaching Excellence this year, he was honored. But after a 28-year teaching career that had yielded at least five previous nominations, he figured his chances this time around were slim.

“The joke is that it’s like the soap opera awards,” says Busher, a College of General Studies professor and chair of the division of natural science. “You might get nominated all the time, but you never win!”

Then he won.

Although he introduces himself as a biologist, Busher also teaches evolution, environmental science, astronomy, and physics. His course load includes teaching large required freshman and sophomore courses. His student evaluations rank him among the college’s top five teachers. Comments range from “the best science professor I’ve ever had” to “great moustache.”

Busher places the emphasis back on his students.

“Any effective teaching I may be involved in is not so much about my approach to teaching, but about what my students do,” he says. “They have great capacity to stretch the thought process and make you think about things you wouldn’t consider.”

The winners of the Metcalf Award and the Metcalf Cup and Prize — the University’s highest teaching honors — were announced at the annual Senior Breakfast on Friday and will be presented at Commencement on Sunday, May 17.

Established in 1973 by a gift from the late Arthur G. B. Metcalf (SED’35, Hon.’74), a former faculty member and chairman emeritus of the Board of Trustees, the honors are an expression of gratitude to teachers who students regard as defining figures. The award comes with a prize of $5,000.

A committee selects the winner using statements of pedagogy from the nominees. Letters of recommendation from current and former students are key, drawing committee members into the classroom to experience a professor’s energy and enthusiasm.

For features about Metcalf Cup and Prize winners Michelle LaCourse, a school of music associate professor of music and chair of the string department, and Tom Gilmore, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of biology and director of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, check back on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Edward A. Brown can be reached at ebrown@bu.edu.


4 Comments on Bringing Life to Science, Science to Life

  • CGS Alum on 05.04.2009 at 10:14 am

    The award could not have gone to a more deserving faculty member, congratulations Professor Busher!

  • Anonymous on 05.04.2009 at 12:44 pm

    Peter Busher is a god among men.

  • Anonymous on 05.04.2009 at 1:05 pm


    This award is long overdue. He was outstanding when I had him as a professor 10 years ago! Also, the layout of this article is very nice, interactive and well thought out. Thank you BU Today!

  • Nancy - mother-in-law on 05.14.2009 at 11:20 am

    Metcalf Award

    Peter, I have always wanted to be one of your students. Even in everyday life when we question you about anything, you give us such interesting facts that we want to know more
    about the subject. I know if I had been one of your students I would have probably been a pain and tried to engaged you in many conversations. I love to pick your brain, you are so interesting and knowledgable and always find a way to interject humor. I am very happy that you have been honored this year with the Metcalf Award. Knowing you personally, I am sure you are most deserving of the award and the money is a plus also ,but, I still think you should go on Jeopardy.

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