In 1969, John Worrall became an assistant professor in the Faculty of Forestry. He retired from his Faculty position in 2003 after decades of educational leadership and having made a positive impact on generations of students.
For 35 years, Worrall taught dendrology—the study of the characteristics of trees and other woody plants—to undergraduate students. Worrall’s love of the topic and enthusiasm for effective teaching were evident to all who took his courses. He also taught introductory forestry to non-forestry students, and his ability to connect with people of all academic backgrounds gained him much respect. He is the only professor to have twice received the Forestry Killam award—a recognition for outstanding contribution to teaching in the Faculty of Forestry.
In addition to these UBC-granted awards, Worrall was recognized on multiple occasions by his former students. In 1996, the UBC Forestry classes of 1975 to 1989 established the John Worrall Alumni Bursary, which stands as one of the most popular and well-supported special award appeals ever launched by the Faculty. In 2003, Worrall’s colleagues, friends and students created the John Worrall Tree Enthusiast Prize to celebrate his retirement and recognize his outstanding contributions to teaching and students.
Many alumni and Faculty remember Worrall for his commitment to teaching and the student experience at UBC Forestry—a sentiment that was palpable during Worrall’s retirement party in 2003. While Worrall requested a small event with a BBQ and burgers, over 250 alumni, Faculty and friends saw to it that this party was anything but small! People came from all over Canada to celebrate the man also well known for his dry British wit and encyclopedic knowledge of plant species.
Following his retirement, Worrall continued to do what he became known for: help Forestry students feel a sense of community and engagement during their time at UBC. He retained an office space on the first floor of the Forest Sciences Centre, and was actively involved in student activities for many years. For example, he would often organize ping-pong tournaments and flip burgers at Forestry Undergraduate Society (FUS) beer gardens.
Worrall will be greatly missed by those who had the pleasure of making his acquaintance, including his many friends and former students.