I am pleased to announce that David Willey, Instructor of Physics, has been selected to receive the 2005-2006 President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. He will be presented with the Award during Commencement on May 6.
Mr. Willey joined the Natural Sciences Division in 1975 as Instructor of Physics. Dave is recognized as an accomplished teacher and has earned the respect of colleagues and students. He has developed a national reputation as a classroom teacher.
Mr. Willey's former students offer high praise for his teaching. They are especially complementary of his ability to bring clarity to the complexities of physics through laboratory experiments and demonstrations. Dave approaches his teaching with an uncommon passion for the students to learn and for them to understand the principles of physics. He instills students with an unfulfilled desire to know more and to understand more. His student evaluations are filled with comments about how much they learned and how their appreciation for science was enhanced. Dave stated the following with regard to his approach to teaching:
- I believe you have to gain someone's interest before they can be informed.
- I think it is important that everyone have a grounding in science, as science is relevant to all of our lives, and I believe that this should be made clear to our students.
- I believe that teaching our students how to learn is more important that teaching them facts, although both have their place.
- I believe that a teacher should emphasize the good and worthwhile, and that students perform their best when they are managed, rather than disciplined.
Dave continuously seeks new ways to provide meaningful experiences for his students, underscoring his devotion to the learning process in the classroom and in the laboratory. He challenges his students to craft their scientific inquiries carefully, to think critically, and to formulate nontraditional approaches to problem solving. Through open dialogue and an insistence for excellence, he consistently prepares students to think and solve problems in different ways.
His devotion to physics, and more importantly his ability to inculcate students with a love and appreciation for science has won the admiration of colleagues from across the region and beyond. As a teacher, colleague, and role model, Mr. Willey is regarded as intellectually spirited, challenging, and enthusiastic. In 1990 Dave received the Dr. Ed Vizzini Teacher of the Year award. He developed a Physics demonstration program called "How Does A Thing Like That Work?" Dave has made hundreds of presentations in the public schools of our region and is in constant demand by public school teachers of science.
For the past several years he has made regular appearances on the Tonight Show, hosted by Jay Leno. He has wowed audiences with his demonstrations of physics. Mr. Leno and many of his guests are often in awe and can only utter the word, unbelievable. Through his appearances on the Tonight Show, Dave is reaching millions with his message of the importance of science and its application in everyday life.
I would be remiss if I did not mention his accomplishments as a Firewalker. Dave collected data for the World's Hottest Firewalk, held in Redmond, Washington in October 1997. In July 1998 he hosted the world record longest firewalk on the UPJ campus. This event was witnessed by hundreds of spectators and Dave convinced a few to walk on hot coals for the first time.
Through all that he does, and especially his devotion of science and teaching, Dave is a tremendous ambassador for the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.
Mr. Willey earned his Bachelor of Science from Aston University, United Kingdom, in 1970, the Certificate in Education from Birmingham University, U.K., 1971, and the Master of Science from Ohio State University in 1974.