Levent Tuncel


2012 Award for Distinction in Teaching

Levent Tuncel
In 2012, the Faculty of Mathematics awarded two faculty members with distinctions in teaching. One of those awards went to Professor Stephen New and the other to Professor Levent Tuncel.

A humble and hardworking professor, Tuncel takes a no secrets approach to his craft. Between acting as associate dean, graduate studies for a two year term beginning in July 2011, on top of supervising a number of undergraduate research assistants, multiple masters students, and a handful of PhD students, all while conducting his own research, and teaching courses in Combinatorics & Optimization, you would expect him to be an expert juggler. However, Tuncel says he does not have a magic formula to being successful. Instead it’s about preparation, care, hard work, and focusing your passion.

With a strong love of learning and play, Tuncel brings both into his work causing his daily schedule to seem like anything but. Striving to do everything to the best of his ability, a desire to learn and share his knowledge with both students and colleagues adds an extra level of enjoyment to his position here at Waterloo. Tuncel attributes his success to a belief that research drives a non-compartmentalized approach to his work. His role as an educator encourages him to delve deeper into his research, which in turn, drives enthusiasm towards his administrative duties. It’s a cycle of constant learning that satisfies an insatiable desire to grow, learn, and share that knowledge.

Having taught 54 or so courses during his time at the university, teaching is a large part of why Tuncel enjoys being a professor but if you were to ask him what his favourite part is, he’d say it’s hard to pinpoint. Teaching courses in Combinatorics & Optimization at the undergraduate and graduate levels is challenging, yet rewarding. He finds it even more heartwarming when former students check back in and share just how influential he has been in their academic and non-academic careers. Having the opportunity to make a difference in their lives is the ultimate reward.

If you were to ask his students, they have nothing but positive things to say and can share favourite stories or words of wisdom received. Tuncel’s dedication to teaching excellence is echoed in each remark. When asked how he felt upon receiving his first award for distinction in teaching, he said he was humbled, grateful, and that many students, colleagues and the positive learning environment at the university helped him reach this success.

New and Tuncel join 10 past recipients of the Faculty of Mathematics Award for Distinction in Teaching since its inception:

  • 2011 – J.P. Pretti and Jeffrey Shallit
  • 2010 – Serge D’Alessio and Alfred Menezes
  • 2009 – Ian Goulden and Troy Vasiga
  • 2008 – Robin Cohen and David McKinnon
  • 2007 – Beverly Marshman and Ian VanderBurgh

Nominate your outstanding Faculty of Mathematics teacher for this award!