Ed Heier, recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award, 1983

Germanic and Slavic Studies

Edmund Heier has been teaching Waterloo in the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures since 1960. He has held the rank of professor since 1966. Professor Heier enjoys an excellent reputation as a scholar for his many publications on Tolstoy, Turgenev, Nicolay and other writers. He has been teaching with equal competence at the undergraduate and graduate levels, in both Russian and German courses. Professor Heier’s nomination was supported by thoughtful letters from many current and former students, both undergraduate and graduate, and from numerous colleagues inside and outside Waterloo. It is difficult for me to talk about professor Edmund Heier. We all know him as Eddie Heier, an energetic, emotional, sentimental man of great warmth, who loves his subject and delights in teaching it. Eddie teaches not only literature but also the love of literature, not only vocabulary and grammar but also language as the voice of culture. His students are well aware of the qualities which make Eddie Heier a fine teacher. As one of them put it – “Two particular strengths identify him as an excellent teacher. The first is patience and dedication to detail that ensures that the topics he teaches are well understood … The second is the enthusiasm he has towards teaching his class, which he transmits to his students. A former graduate student describes Eddie Heier’s teaching in the graduate programme in these terms – “He loves his work and shares all his knowledge with his students. He delivers his lectures dynamically, putting his heart and soul into them. His explanations never need to be repeated. According to a colleague, Eddie Heier “belongs to this rare breed of ‘born teachers’, which means combining the competence and erudition with the ability to impart it to others in such a natural way that the barrier between teacher and pupil ceases to exist.” Another says, “He is a first-class teacher possessing a deep and sophisticated knowledge of his subject and the warm, dynamic personality so essential to a productive rapport with students.” Eddie’s students value his advice and remain very loyal to him. His former students return frequently and for many years after graduation to seek his advice, or just to visit him. As a closing comment on Eddie Heier’s teaching, I found one student statement irresistible. I shall quote in full -- “To a non-native, Russian is a hard language to learn. However, with Dr. Heier’s guidance and insight, the beauty and breadth of the Russian language becomes clearly evident – especially when he sings.”

[Professor Heier died in 2004]