The Joy of MathematicsGAMBIER, Ohio (April 28, 2008) The Mathematics Association of America has honored Judy Holdener, associate professor of mathematics, with the Distinguished Teaching Award from the Ohio section.
The award is given each year to a college-level instructor who has taught for at least five years, and it was presented to Holdener at a recent conference at Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio. Holdener is now eligible for a national award whose winner will be announced this summer.
"I feel fortunate to be able to teach in a place like Kenyon, where students are talented and engaging," Holdener said. "It makes teaching a joy."
Carol Schumacher, professor of mathematics, was among several faculty members who wrote a letter of nomination for Holdener. Schumacher emphasized that students are drawn into Holdener's classes because of her playfulness and humor but also because of the high standards she sets for them. Holdener's lectures are engaging and give students a greater appreciation for math, Schumacher said, but in her classes it is the students who give great performances. "It changes them forever," Schumacher said.
Will Stanton, Class of 2008, a mathematics major from Williston, South Carolina, has taken two of Holdener's classes. They also collaborated on a Summer Science project called "Perfect Numbers and the Abundancy Index." She goes "above and beyond as a mentor to students outside the classroom. But what sets Professor Holdener apart is her playful and enthusiastic approach to mathematics," Stanton said. Holdener organized a Valentine's Day "Math = Love" celebration, during which every student and professor in the department signed a manifesto declaring his or her true love for math, he recalled.
When Holdener returned from the award ceremony, she was greeted by another surprise. Her students and colleagues had blanketed her office with confetti, congratulatory signs, and other decorations.
Holdener joined the Department of Mathematics in 1997.
-- Kate Hellman '08