2013 Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics
Stuart Boersma, Central Washington Univerity

It is a privilege to be able to present the Pacific Northwest Sections’ Distinguished Teaching Award to Stuart Boersma. In 2010, when I first arrived at Central Washington University, Stuart was assigned to me as a mentor. I didn’t know then how lucky I was. Since that day I have learned a tremendous amount from Stuart, through long discussions about teaching, and by simply watching his example. I would like to take this opportunity to name a few of the reasons that he is a worthy recipient of this prize.

As one would expect from the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award, Stuart is a brilliant classroom teacher. His students — from Math 101 to Abstract Algebra — regularly praise his teaching, and he has the reputation of being one of the best teachers in all of Central Washington University. He holds the deep respect of his colleagues — it is telling that the people who see him most (and I include myself in this set) are among his biggest fans.

Not only does Stuart excel at teaching his regular classes, but he regularly offers a year-long independent study course for math students. These seminars — covering topics from general relativity to cryptology — are widely popular and successful. Furthermore, he is a successful mentor of undergraduate research, and was recently given CWU’s “Research mentor of the Year” award.

But the Distinguished Teaching Award rightly honors more than just excellence in classroom instruction. Stuart Boersma is deeply concerned with Quantitative Literacy — not for people in his classes, but for students everywhere. He is part of a team who have developed a method of teaching Quantitative Literacy through media articles, which is a primary focus of his book ”Case Studies for Quantitative Reasoning: A Casebook of Media Articles“. This book, together with a long list of scholarly publication in the field of Quantitative Literacy, represent part of his contribution this important field. Some of the people in this section have been fortunate enough to attend Stuart’s mini-courses on teaching Quantitative Literacy at sectional meetings. Those people may not know that he has presented his material much more widely, both locally and across the country.

Dr. Boersma’s work in the field has been recognized by experts in the field in many ways. In the interest of time, I would mention just two. In 2010, he has elected the Chair of the Quantitative Literacy Special Interest Group of the MAA. In this role he worked with other parts of the MAA to promote QL across the country. More recently, he was asked by the Carnegie Foundation to be the lead author of the large QuantWay project, a comprehensive curriculum for teaching Quantitative Literacy, and for training instructors to teach Quantitative Literacy more effectively.

Not willing to rest of his success of having a positive impact on QL at the national level, Stuart Boersma has begun looking for new ways to impact student learning across the world. Together with Western Oregon University’s Cheryl Beaver, he founded the KRYPTOS competition in 2011. This weekend competition, in which students compete to decrypt messages, has recently moved to a national stage — it runs next week (so, to students in the audience — it’s not too late to sign up!).

Stuart is here today, and there may be a limit to how much praise he can hear about himself. I will not, therefore, detail his successful tenure directing the campus Mathematics Modeling Team, or the National Science Foundation Grants he has received for improving undergraduate education. I will have to be content to mention only in passing his successful career as an expository writer for undergraduates (including his receiving the Trevor Evans award for expository writing); his highly-praised work with regional high schools; and his service as a board member of the National Numeracy Network. Many other achievements will need to remain unspoken altogether.

With this Distinguished Teaching Award, the Pacific-Northwest Section acknowledges Stuart Boersma’s many contributions to teaching in the past, and eagerly looks forward to his work in the future. Ladies and Gentlemen of the section, please join me in congratulating the 2013 winner of the Distinguished Teaching Award, Stuart Boersma.

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