2012 Award for Distinction in Teaching

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

A lecturer who describes teaching as a way to help build understanding, Stephen New first started at Waterloo in 2000 as a core math instructor teaching introductory courses to math, science and engineering students. Similar to his colleagues, New walks into the classroom excited to teach. “There’s no need to find motivation for it, I just enjoy it,” said New. Over the past 13 years, his dedication to teaching has taken him across the world all while flying the Waterloo flag.

New spent two separate terms at Waterloo’s United Arab Emirates (UAE) campus located in Dubai. He describes the experience as both rewarding and relaxing. “Students at the UAE campus are lots of fun and are quite keen to learn. There’s increased contact between students and instructors because of the smaller class sizes. When I was there, I had less to juggle because I was only there to teach. It was relaxing,” said New.

Traveling internationally isn’t the only way New represents Waterloo outside of the classroom. New coaches the Putnam Competition team, a team that competes in an annual mathematics competition for post-secondary students. New also coordinates UWaterloo’s in house mathematics contests - the Big E and Special K. “The students who participate in the contests are a fun crowd to work with. They love math and are really keen to participate in the weekly training and contest trials.” Adding weekly training sessions, contest trials, and question development to a schedule that involves teaching three courses and academic advising calls for excellent time management skills but, New says when you do something you love it doesn’t feel like work.

Not known for making funny jokes, New believes math can be fun without bells and whistles. “It’s about teaching the material students enjoy, clearly. Clarity helps develop understanding,” says New. “Students can find pleasure in enjoying the material. The concepts have enough beauty to be enjoyable.” New teaches for no altruistic reason, with no noble goal. He does it simply for his own pleasure. He says the gratification comes when students do well and develop a passion for the material.

His students appreciate every ounce of passion he brings to the classroom praising him for challenging assignments that go further than just memorizing course notes, brilliantly clear lectures, and impeccable instruction. When asked if he had a favourite course to teach, New simply said he likes them all and that he’ll gladly take on more since variety is good.

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!

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