Faculty News and Awards
Lots of our faculty are busy working on exciting projects. We are especially proud of these recent awards and achievements.
For the first time ever, Grand Valley was able to honor employees who have given 40 years of service to the university. Our own Don VanderJagt was one of three recipients of this award, having been at GVSU since 1964. In addition to teaching, Don keeps up with his research in graph theory, and serves as our institutional faculty athletic representative to the NCAA.
Char Beckmann will be honored with GVSU’s Distinguished Contribution in a Discipline Award. Char’s professional goals involve bridging the gap between theoretical research in mathematics education and the practice of mathematics teaching. She was recently the president of the Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and last year she initiated a new conference Conversations Among Colleagues, which brings together mathematicians, mathematics educators, and partners in K-12 schools.
Ted Sundstrom will be recognized this year by the Michigan Section of the Mathematical Association of America Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching. Ted has always been focused on engaging students, helping them to share in the excitement that he finds in the wonders of mathematics. Over the years Ted has been involved in the writing of several textbooks, most recently the student-friendly “Mathematical Reasoning, Writing and Proof,” which we use in our Communicating in Mathematics course.
And speaking of textbook authors, Jon Hodge has co-written “The Mathematics of Voting and Elections: A HandsOn Approach” with Richard Klima of Appalachian State University. The book, which is being published by the American Mathematical Association, is Jon’s text for the new course he designed on voting theory. The course is an option for students taking the Democracy theme at Grand Valley, and has attracted students majoring in philosophy, political science and history, as well as mathematics. Jon uses discovery-based techniques in his teaching, and his book models this approach by consisting almost entirely of questions and investigations. One of Jon’s goals for the course is to give non-math students a chance to have a non-traditional experience with mathematics. Voting and elections provide an interesting and engaging context for this, and many of the students are already changing their perceptions of what mathematics is all about. Students consider the ideal properties of a voting system, such as the requirement that if everyone in a population prefers Candidate A to Candidate B, then Candidate B shouldn’t be able to get elected! Then they explore different models to see how well they satisfy all the desired conditions. Jon says that it has been a challenge teaching a brand new course, but that he is enjoying the experience and already has many ideas for making the class even better next time.