The University of Waterloo dedicated the atrium of its new mathematics building last week, but not in the name of the donor who helped make it possible. He wanted his favourite teacher to have that honour instead.
The donor – John Hele, chief financial officer and executive vice-president of Arch Capital Group – asked that the naming recognize his high school math teacher, Bruce White. A graduate of the University of Windsor (BSc 1966), White taught math at Windsor’s Kennedy Collegiate and Vincent Massey Secondary School. Since his formal retirement in 2004, he continues to meet twice a week with more than 200 math club students.
Hele called him an inspiration.
“In each of our lifetimes, there are only a few who make a truly lasting impression,” Hele said. “Dr. Bruce White is one of those people, and he has done this for thousands of students. Dr. White does not just teach mathematics; rather he teaches how to learn mathematics.”
White called the dedication a tremendous honour.
“You don’t teach for what you’re going to get,” he said. “I am just happy to know that I made an impression on some of these students, hopefully a positive one.”
At Friday’s reception, attendees heard from Hele, who graduated from Kennedy in 1976, and from one of White’s students who graduated from Massey in 2006. One of his former students made the trip from London, England.
“He said he wouldn’t have missed it, “said White. “That impressed me, I can tell you.”
The University of Windsor conferred an honorary doctor of laws degree on White in 2002. A winner of the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, he also received the Mathematical Association of America’s Award for Distinguished High School Mathematics Teaching.