Morris Tchir, recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award, 1984


Morris Tchir is an associate professor of chemistry who joined the department as an assistant professor in 1971, after some postdoctoral research experience, at the tender age of twenty-six. It became clear very soon after his arrival here that the young Dr. Tchir had a special talent for teaching. That talent has produced the outstanding record of teaching achievement which we are recognizing today. The chairman of chemistry summarizes that record in these terms: “over the last ten years Tchir, teaching at all levels from year one through year four and graduate school has achieved the most consistently high evaluations of teaching performance by students of any faculty member in the Department.” Morris Tchir's colleagues agree with the student assessment. One of them summarized his impact in these words: “To his former students, whether chemistry was for them a brief introductory course or the major field of study leading to a professional career, [he] stands out as the personification of excellent teaching.” The attributes which contribute to Morris Tchir's success as a teacher are very clear to the many students, alumni, and colleagues who wrote in support of his nomination. He is a superb lecturer, who uses the classical audio-visual aids of a strong voice and the blackboard to their full advantage. He is able to inform and motivate very large groups of students, and he is prepared to spend an enormous amount of time outside of the classroom dealing with questions from individuals. He is a scholar, with a deep understanding of chemistry and the ability to bring current research results into the classroom. The intellectual content of Morris Tchir's teaching is noted by many of those who wrote about him. His assignments and examinations are considered tough and challenging, but many students appreciate the challenge they pose. One student put it in these words: “He keeps up with the current research on topics covered in lectures, and assignment questions are often chosen from the [research] literature instead of reruns of textbook problems. The answers are rarely obvious, and their solution requires understanding and original thinking.” Morris Tchir's contributions to teaching include much more than his work in the classroom. He excels at teaching in the laboratory, at developing new courses, and at advising graduate students as a member of their thesis committees. He is also making a very large contribution to experimental research in the department by carrying the responsibility for the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) services of the department. Time does not allow a detailed description of his contributions in high school liaison, his general-interest public lectures on chemistry, and his important work in the supervision of student projects. One student letter nominating Morris Tchir for the Distinguished Teacher Award was written on the back of a beautiful poster he designed to advertise the chemistry programmes at Waterloo. It ends with this sentence: “We know Dr. Tchir is a distinguished teacher - we would just like it made official!”