David Williams, recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award, 1984


David Williams is an associate professor of optometry who came to Waterloo in 1971. He will have the rank of professor as of July 1 this year. Professor Williams holds both the OD and the PhD degrees. He is an active researcher in the field of ocular health assessment, with a particular interest in the quantitative analysis of clinical data, and his findings have been presented in many publications in the optometric literature. Dr. Williams carries out his research in ways that effectively bridge the gap between theoretical and clinical knowledge. Not surprisingly, the Director of the school of optometry has pointed out that in his teaching he is particularly effective in integrating his lectures with his clinical activity. It is that record of teaching which we are recognizing here today. The nomination of David Williams for the Distinguished Teacher Award was supported by many letters from his colleagues, from graduates, and from current students. These letters present the picture of David Williams as a very energetic and effective lecturer, who can motivate as well as inform students. He is a painstaking and thorough as a clinical teacher, and also seems able to find unlimited time to help students with individual questions. The most visible contribution which David has made to the teaching of optometry is the development of new audio-visual aids. These include video cassettes which he has filmed, as well as others which he also wrote and narrated. David has also put together a slide and tape presentation, and an innovative version of the class portrait in which the students are represented by their fundus photographs. David has also been instrumental in introducing optometry students to the use of microcomputers. A more fundamental, if less visible feature of David Williams' teaching has been his educational philosophy. He helps the students learn the fundamentals and encourages them to reason from these in particular cases. For example, in teaching ocular pathology he instructs the students in applying physiological principles rather than memorizing the symptoms. The work of David Williams as a teacher is not limited to the school of optometry. David is a central figure in an innovative venture in the Faculty of Science to develop a faculty-wide course called the science of the senses. His work is also not limited to university students; he is very active and successful in the continuing education programme of the profession. This incredibly energetic man also devotes a great deal of time to the profession of optometry in other ways. He serves in various official capacities in optometric organizations, and he also has the very time-consuming position of Associate Editor of the American Journal of Optometry and Physiological Optics. Optometry students like and admire David Williams. For two years they have chosen him Professor of the Year in the school. The letters of nomination spoke of him in very warm terms. This passage from one of them illustrates the close relationship between David and his students.”I had the privilege of informing Dr. Williams that he was our nominee for this award, and the look on his face is one that I will remember for many years to come. All he could say was 'I feel so good, I'll be riding my bike all the way home in tenth gear'.” I wonder how he will react to what is happening here today.