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Posted April 30, 2012


University of Waterloo alumnus dedicates atrium of new building to high school math teacher

WATERLOO - The University of Waterloo dedicated the atrium of the new Mathematics 3 building today, but not in the name of the generous donor who helped make it possible. He wanted his favourite teacher to have that honour instead.

John C.R. Hele is chief financial officer and executive vice-president of Arch Capital Group Ltd. He earned a Bachelor of Mathematics degree from Waterloo. He attended the Hon. W.C. Kennedy Collegiate Institute in Windsor, where he had an inspirational teacher named Bruce White.

“It’s heartwarming that one of our alumni has named this space in honour of his high school math teacher,” said Ian Goulden, dean of the Faculty of Mathematics at Waterloo. “This beautiful atrium is a focal point for our whole faculty, and we’re thrilled to recognize Bruce White for inspiring generations of students to achieve excellence.”

White inspires his students by encouraging them to ask questions and focus on the process, rather than the theory behind the problem. In addition to succeeding at competitions, White’s students excel once they reach university-level mathematics classes.

“In each of our lifetimes, there are only a few who make a truly lasting impression,” said Hele. “Bruce White is one of those people, and has done this for thousands of students. He does not just teach mathematics; he teaches how to learn mathematics.”

White has taught more than 8,000 people. Although he retired in 2004, he still runs math clubs for more than 200 students twice a week, and another for a smaller group.

“I never expected this prestigious and enduring honour,” said White. “It is hard for me to find the words to really show my appreciation, but I hope that John knows how grateful l am.”

White is a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence and the University of Waterloo’s Descartes Award for Outstanding Teaching in High School Mathematics. The University of Windsor awarded him an honorary doctorate for his contributions to students and learning.

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