Department of Film Studies Chair Ross Morin ’05 wins international teaching award
It’s not rare for filmmakers to list their greatest influences in film who have shaped their work. But when Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Film Studies Ross Morin accepted the Senior Faculty Teaching Award at this year’s University Film and Video Association (UFVA) conference, he placed credit elsewhere for his success.
“My teachers have changed my life more than any filmmaker ever has,” Morin said in his acceptance speech Aug. 2 at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“I teach filmmaking because I love movies, but I teach because of the chances to give and to help in the ways that my teachers gave to me,” he added, before thanking a number of his own teachers, including some from his earliest years in school.
The red-carpet awards ceremony was part of the UFVA’s annual conference that brings filmmaking professors together from around the world to screen films, hold panel discussions, present exhibits and stage readings of unproduced screenplays. The oldest and largest organization of filmmaking teachers in the world, the UFVA includes educators from any field related to filmmaking, including directing, cinematography, screenwriting, editing and sound work, as well as the history and theory of film.
Morin, who is a 2005 graduate of Connecticut College and joined the faculty in 2011, designs the entire curriculum for the department of film studies, and is an award-winning independent filmmaker, cinematographer and editor. His unique approach to teaching film production blends together a potent combination of art, storytelling and social justice activism.
In presenting the award to Morin, the UFVA selection committee said that the honor was “in recognition of professor Morin’s emphasis on rigor, personal attention, collaboration and use of filmmaking as a means for expanding minds.”
Morin explained that teaching film in a broader liberal arts context demands a more diverse set of skills from his students.
“One of my main goals in teaching filmmaking is not actually about filmmaking at all,” Morin said. “My goal is to take the critical thinking skills, the social justice lens, the humble focus on process over product and to empower students to apply these ideas to whatever field they end up pursuing in life.”
Morin is no stranger to teaching awards. As a graduate student at Ohio University in 2008, he won the Graduate Associate Outstanding Teacher Award. And 10 years later, Morin was awarded Connecticut College's highest teaching honor, the John S. King Memorial Award for teaching excellence, and was also honored with the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Faculty Mentor Award.
The impact Morin has had and continues to have on his students is profound. One student survey the selection committee cited in its introduction of Morin read: “I’ve learned over the course of this semester in this class more than I have in any other class. I’ve grown as a critical thinker, an artist, a classmate and a person. My project in this course has been so affirming and validating of my experiences. Through Professor Morin’s guidance, I’ve learned to think critically and artistically about my life and the experiences of people I hold dear to me.”
Morin said he is incredibly humbled by the kind words of his students and the close working relationships he is able to develop with them, describing his teaching style as “putting himself in the ring” with his students and making it clear how devoted he is to their success.
“I participate in all levels of my students’ projects from idea to screen, and in these moments my students can see my care for them as people,” he said.
“The gravity of this award is not lost on me, and it’s the highest honor as a teacher I can dream of. I accept this award tonight in honor and in memory of my teachers, to many of whom I never said the simple words, ‘Thank you.’”