Desmond Hemming, recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award, 1995


Desmond Hemming, a graduate of the University of Bristol in England, has been a member of the department of physics at the University of Waterloo since 1965, and is currently associate chair of that department. His dedication, enthusiasm and excellent teaching skills have been recognized by his colleagues and by hundreds of students over the years. He is a versatile and exemplary instructor at all levels - first year introductory physics, second year electricity and magnetism, third year thermodynamics, fourth year and graduate level electromagnetic theory - even a non-specialist fun course on the physics of Hi-Fi. A recent graduate, writing in support of Dr. Hemming's nomination, first praises the clarity of his presentation, his excellent blackboard skills, his effective and extensive use of demonstrations, together with his approachability, patience and dry humour, and then states that “none of these, however, are what makes Dr. Hemming one of the greatest teaching assets of the University of Waterloo. His most remarkable talent is the rapport he can create with a student struggling with a new and difficult concept. There is nothing like walking into his office in complete confusion and listening to him explain the problem in calm measured tones. An immense sense of relief comes over you as you realize you can understand, you're not going to fail, and everything is going to work out fine!” These sentiments are echoed by many other students, as illustrated by the following two quotes: “It is obvious to any of his students that he enjoys being in the classroom and genuinely cares for their educational progress.” and “Dr. Hemming's greatest asset as a teacher is the extent of his caring for those he teaches. This attitude is obvious to all in his classes and helps to create an atmosphere that facilitates learning.”