Alumnus David Nimmo remembers his UWaterloo experience

david nimmoI learn so much from doing interviews with alumni. This interview with David Nimmo was particularly compelling. I hope you agree. –JLH

JLH: You were among the first to graduate from the Faculty of Arts at UWaterloo. Can you talk a bit about the energy on campus at the time?
DN: In its early days, U of Waterloo was marked by a great sense of rivalry between faculties, especially Engineering (“plumbers”) and Arts (“artsies”), but also between U of W and Waterloo College, then Waterloo Lutheran and now Wilfrid Laurier University. There was also excitement about getting in on the ground floor of student organizations—in my   case, the student newspaper The Coryphaeus (now Chevron), in other cases the jazz band, politics, or sports teams.

JLH: When you think back, what stands out from your English classes?
DN: W.K. Thomas’s first year English survey course was a formative experience. And Walter Martin’s twentieth-century British Lit. class and practical criticism class were most stimulating! The profs took us seriously as future discipline colleagues.

JLH: You were fortunate to teach abroad. How different was the experience from your own undergraduate education?
DN: In England, I held tutorials on Oxbridge lines: two students and I would meet once a week, and each student would alternate delivering a paper I had assigned in one of their Honours English courses, from Chaucer to the Moderns. Waterloo had prepared me well across the curriculum. At the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica I taught the same courses Walter Martin had taught me, Modern British lit. and practical criticism, and the Romantic Poetry class that W.K. Thomas had taught me. So that Waterloo experience made me feel more at home.

JLH: You’ve recently endowed two awards for English graduate students. (I’d be remiss if I didn’t pause here to say thank you on behalf of the English department!) Can you share with us what motivated your decision?
DN: One, I wanted to repay Waterloo for what it gave me. Second, I want to encourage humanities students not to listen to that glum talk about underemployment and being over qualified, but just go for it! Waterloo links literature with professional skills and that’s   invaluable.

JLH: Finally, what are you currently reading for fun?
DN: Every day I read scenes from yet to be titled film scripts! I recently was awarded a scholarship from a Californian producer to do an online screenwriting course. Each day we submit a scene from our own script and have to critique each others’ scripts. It’s like being a reader of Dickens’ magazine installments!

For those interested in learning more about Dr. Nimmo’s late wife, Lea Vogel-Nimmo, for whom one of the two endowed awards is named, there is a wonderful 45 minute documentary online.


4 responses to “Alumnus David Nimmo remembers his UWaterloo experience

  1. Pingback: Reporting on our 2015 Awards Ceremony–with photos! |

  2. George R. Breen

    Is this the David Nimmo that attended KCI in the late 50’s and early 60’s? I fondly remember our endless summers of “vigilante baseball” at Victoria Park in Kitchener during our early teenage years. I have lived in California for the past 34 years and have lost touch with several of my teenage friends.

    • Dear George, I’ve emailed David to say you’ve commented, as only he can answer questions about vigilante baseball! All the best–JLH

  3. George, as one vigilante would say to another — “Neat!” (complete with appropriate hand sign.). Just the other day I was telling a friend that as kids in Kitchener we didn’t have the “privilege” of going to summer camp – we took care of ourselves by playing sports and never got into any juvenile delinquency. Fond memories, indeed, George.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s