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Journalism professor Ross Perigoe dies of cancer

by The Concordian January 10, 2012
Journalism professor Ross Perigoe dies of cancer

Ross Perigoe, a fixture of the Concordia journalism department, died from a brain tumour on the evening of Jan. 3.

Perigoe, better known to his students as “Coach”, taught at Concordia University for 25 years and was the longest-serving professor in the journalism department. He also lectured in the journalism department at Loyola International College.

Perigoe was known best for his odd nature and infectious enthusiasm by the undergraduates he taught. He viewed himself as a coach rather than a professor, only answering to that nickname, and acted as a guide in his students’ education.

Mitch Gallo, a recent Concordia journalism graduate, credited Perigoe for helping him focus his career direction. Now a sports anchor for TSN Radio, Gallo described Perigoe as a man who was always fully prepared and took an active effort to help his students.

“I don’t think anyone could possibly match his enthusiasm when it came to teaching,” Gallo explains. “You could tell in his eyes that when he was listening to every single student he was so focused and enthused and he just wanted to help everyone get to wherever they wanted to get to. It really stood out with Ross.”

Gallo remembered the pride he felt when his mentor Perigoe asked him to write a letter of recommendation for the Michael Monty Memorial Award. The award, presented by the Radio Television News Directors Association, is given to broadcast educators nominated by students. Perigoe would go on to win the award in 2009.

No matter how loved he was by his students, his working relationship on the other hand, wasn’t a fairy tale. Elias Makos, a former technical instructor in the journalism department, described the man as being marginalized by some co-workers.

“There’s no doubt that he was kind of an oddball,” says Makos. “It’s difficult to talk about. I think the sad but best way of putting it is that at times I think that he was bullied by others in the department.”

Leo Gervais, undergraduate program director and lecturer in the department, agreed that Perigoe was often at ends with some co-workers, that he wasn’t afraid to speak up or shake up the status quo. “He had ideas that other people didn’t agree with. He wasn’t always in the mainstream of thought. He would often go on the banks of the mainstream,” says Gervais.

Gervais, one of Perigoe’s former students, described Perigoe as full of ideas, and having the energy of “a kid in a candy store.”

“[Perigoe] always had the best interest of the student at heart. He cared a lot about the students. He would follow up with them, push them and encourage them.”

At the age of 20, Perigoe was a producer for CBC national radio programming. He was a broadcast reporter and producer in Canada and the United States for 15 years, eventually earning a PhD at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University. Perigoe was interested in the representation of visible minorities, and his PhD thesis, which he was rewriting for publication, studied the depiction of Muslims in The Gazette after the September 11 attacks.

He began teaching at Concordia in 1985, long before some of his more recent students were born.

Friends agreed that Perigoe’s memory will live on through the students who have taken and will take the advanced radio course at Concordia, a class he was integral in developing and continually evolving.

Perigoe is survived by his wife, Christina, and two sons, one of whom attends Concordia. He loved long runs, an activity that let him clear his mind.

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