“I’ve been with The Medium for five years now. I started as a volunteer writer and photographer, worked two years as News Editor, and finished off as Editor-in-Chief. This is what I’ve learned: there are two kinds of people on campus (and in life, I suppose): the informed and the uninformed.”
This excerpt is from the last article Robert Price wrote for The Medium in 2000. And although it has been over two decades since he last contributed his writing to the newspaper, his influence can be found in almost every issue since, and for a good reason.
Robert Price, a University of Toronto alumnus and professor in the professional writing and communications program, has been a lecturer at UTM for almost 14 years. He teaches expressive writing, advanced rhetoric, place writing, feature writing, historical writing, and argumentation. Many of the students that come through The Medium have, at one time or another, been acquainted with Professor Price’s direct and honest teaching style—one that aims to teach the principles of writing in an accessible way.
One of five brothers, Professor Price was born in Milton, Ontario, and has since called the Greater Toronto Area home. Professor Price spent most of his childhood in Burlington before moving to Mississauga to attend the University of Toronto Mississauga, then known as Erindale College. He currently lives in Toronto with his wife and son. As a child, Professor Price spent his time drawing and admiring the animations of comic books. He also recalls exploring the outdoors with his brothers. When he first began writing, he started connecting stories with his art by writing excerpts to go with his drawings. It was only in high school that Professor Price fully immersed himself in writing.
Professor Price enrolled at UTM in the fine arts program but opted for a change after his first semester: “I spent about a semester, and I said, ‘this is not for me.’” He changed his major to English and chose two minors: professional writing and religion. To further fuel his passion for writing, he became heavily involved with The Medium. “I spent all my time at The Medium. That was my real major. I liked journalism [and] I liked writing,” says Price. Other than taking English, writing, and religion courses, Professor Price admits that writing in the paper was his true form of education.
Notably, Professor Price was Editor-in-Chief of The Medium’s Volume 26, but before that, he worked as the News Editor for two years. He spent a total of five years writing and working for the student-run organization. In his last issue, he writes, “UTM is a starting ground for the real world where students can practice being a president, where students can own and operate their own newspapers and radio stations, where students can challenge authority.”
One thing Professor Price cherishes most about the campus is the richness and history it holds. Looking back on earlier issues of The Medium, he considers how the student-run publication has evolved over time. “I wish I was studying in 1979 on campus when students were just on fire and in love with writing,” he notes. With the rapid progression of technology, it has become difficult for students to have access to the paper and be aware of the opportunities that come with being a writer.
After consulting with his parents, Professor Price chose to pursue a career in education. He completed his master’s as part of the joint programme in communication and culture from York University and Ryerson University. He subsequently obtained a Ph.D. in teaching and learning from the University of Toronto. His love for teaching and his passion for writing made him the ideal professor at UTM’s Institute of Communication, Culture, Information, and Technology.
Professor Price’s favourite course to teach at UTM is WRI173: Creative Non-Fiction, previously known as Expressive Writing. Although this course is a requirement for enrollment in the professional writing communications program, Professor Price says that it can also alter an individual’s impression on reading and writing.
He also enjoys teaching other writing courses as each one is unique and notable in what they offer. Professor Price compares them to different cuisines: “This one has a spice [and] this one has a sweetness, you know. There’s enough variety in my teaching diet that I feel pretty filled up.”
Regarding his teaching style, Professor Price focuses on what is best for the student and prioritizes teaching the rules and fundamentals of writing. “Some parts of the English-speaking world have descended into the parody of the university, and they don’t teach knowledge; they teach politics,” he says. Price believes the education system has been transformed into an institution that fails to teach students the valuable information they require to succeed in life, such as how to read and write. He argues that universities today facilitate the learning of trivial and controversial subjects with little application to the real world.
He fosters a unique classroom environment and looks for ways to improve the student experience. He reveals that he spends much of his time preparing the classroom and drafting lecture notes for his students. As a writer himself, Professor Price has published and edited numerous books, chapters, and publications, including his own poetry collection titled Tandem Bicycle. He is currently working on his second collection of poetry. Professor Price also enjoys reviewing and sharing his opinion on the literature he consumes.
Professor Price hopes to continue teaching in the future and educating students about writing and reading. Beyond his professional life, he prioritizes looking after his family and providing them comfort and security. Professor Price has taught and mentored many of The Medium’s editors and writers, and his passion for the craft has fuelled, inspired, and shaped the careers of many students at UTM. Twenty-one volumes after his role as The Medium’s Editor-in-Chief, Professor Price remains one of the paper’s most avid readers and biggest critic, a role we appreciate and don’t take for granted.