Koncay Huseyin, recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award, 1985

Systems Design Engineering

Koncay Huseyin has been teaching engineers at Waterloo since 1969. His first appointment was in civil engineering, but he moved over to the Department of Systems Design Engineering in 1972. He has held the rank of professor in systems design since 1975, and has been chairman of the department for the last seven years. Professor Huseyin came to Waterloo as a researcher in solid mechanics, and in his sixteen years here has established himself as one of the world's leading scholars in stability theory. He is the author of three books and many papers, his research has earned him the distinction of the DSc degree of the University of London, and has just been appointed by Oxford University Press as the founding editor of a new international journal, “Dynamics and Stability of Systems.” However, he is not here today to be honoured for his research. He is here to receive our tribute to him because he is a superb teacher. What does it take to be a superb teacher? For Koncay Huseyin this question was answered in the individual letters written by his current and former students, in the nomination document which was organized by his students and signed by dozens of them, in his extraordinary record of course critiques which consistently praise his teaching, and in the admiration expressed by his colleagues. The first characteristic of a superb teacher is a powerful intellect. Koncay Huseyin displays it in his teaching as much as in his research. According to one of his colleagues: “the broad and high level of scholarship and the ability to communicate [it] which [are] in demand by the world community [are] also receiving exceptional response from our students and faculty.” A former student identifies two more characteristics of a superb teacher in these words: “The first is conscientiousness. In teaching, [this] requires organizational ability, a thorough understanding of the material, attention to preparation, [and] a good lecture style. The second is respect and concern for the students. Professor Huseyin treats students as colleagues in the educational process, [not] underlings or adversaries.” The letter from students who organized the nomination put it more dramatically: “He is seen as a friend explaining new ideas rather than an enemy assaulting you with incomprehensible gibberish.” Convocation is too serious an occasion to talk about Koncay Huseyin's sense of humour which helps make the difficult courses which he teaches both enjoyable and memorable. Suffice it to say in the words pencilled on a course critique: “Hoja would be proud of you.”