RC Math on the National Stage

by minton on August 14, 2018

Mathematicians in Denver, Colorado, recently experienced several examples of the enthusiasm and imagination that make mathematics at Roanoke College special. MathFest is a national meeting of the Mathematical Association of America, held this year in Denver from August 1-4. Five Roanoke College professors presented pedagogical innovations at the meeting.

Chris Lee is at the forefront of mastery-based testing. His talk “A Case Study in Implementation across a Mathematics Curriculum” was noteworthy for the careful data collection he has done as he has introduced mastery-based testing in all of his classes. Karin Saoub discussed results from her INQ 241 course in her talk “Critical Thinking and Writing Development through Project and Paper Scaffolding in a Liberal Arts Math Course.” Dave Taylor and Adam Childers have been developing a data collection and analysis phone app, and presented its features in a poster session titled “Classroom Stats: Spice up Your Classroom with Fun, Live, Data Collection and Analysis.” Maggie Rahmoeller discussed the development with Jan Minton of an innovative mathematics course for biology majors in her talk “Quantitative Biology: An Alternative to Calculus for Biology Majors.”

Not to be left out of the summer fun, Hannah Robbins is writing a linear algebra textbook and will lead a session for the Roanoke College Teaching Conference describing her innovations in Topology, a course for math majors. Roland Minton is writing an article on his use of chaos theory in a freshman seminar class, and gave a talk (which has been posted online) titled “The PGA Tour: Playing to Your Strengths” at the Great Lakes Analytics in Sports Conference in June.

Roanoke College is blessed to have both the quantity and quality of classroom innovation represented by these presentations. The numerous Trexler hallway discussions that the math faculty conduct, reinforcing and improving each other’s ideas, pay dividends for Roanoke faculty and our students.



by minton on August 7, 2018

The 2018 MCSP department newsletter (go to http://webapps.roanoke.edu/mcsp/minton/MCSP Times – April 2018.pdf) includes features on two distinguished graduates from the class of 1936. They are different in many ways. One was Army, one was Navy. One was an athlete, the other collected rare books. One was a Big Man on Campus, the other lived off campus. Both George Emery Wade and Stuart “Pete” Brewbaker were math majors, and both are outstanding representatives of Roanoke College.

Stuart “Pete” Brewbaker made the transition from Big Man on Campus at Roanoke (voted the male student who contributed the most to the college) to Big Man in the Community (Lexington’s football field and recreation center are named for him).

Brewbaker was born in 1912, the 11th of 13 children. A four-sport star athlete in high school, he was a starter on the famous Buchanan Five basketball team. He focused on football and baseball at Roanoke College (yes, we had both sports in the 1930s), and was elected to the RC Athletic Hall of Fame in 1974. He served as President of the YMCA and Honors Council at Roanoke. A math major, he was elected to Blue Key honor society. Upon graduation, he went to William Fleming High School as a math teacher and coach before moving to Lexington High School in 1938.

His work for Lexington is remarkable. While teaching math, he was the school’s athletic director and coach of football, basketball, baseball, and track from 1938 to 1960 (with four years leave with the Navy from 1942-46). He continued as football coach until 1977, winning a record 224 games. Other coaches loved him. Joe Downing said, “They beat us my first year, and the next year when we beat them he came over and gave me the game ball…. I wonder if I could have done that.”  Brewbaker founded the school’s golf team in the 1960s, and quickly won 3 state championships. In 1974, he received the National High School Coaches Association Distinguished Service Award.

As great as his coaching record is, his service record was his pride. He founded and served as director of Lexington’s recreational program from 1946 until 1987! He served as President of the state High School Coaches Association, and many other groups. As track coach, he designed and engineered the school’s asphalt running track, which was the first of its kind in the state. He was voted Citizen of the Year in 1994 by the Southern District of the Boy Scouts.

Pete Brewbaker was The Man at Roanoke College, one of 150 distinguished alumni honored in 1992. But his greatest contributions were in Lexington, where he was The Man for over 50 years with the sports and recreation programs he created. He wrote, “The success of the programs is measured by the positive influence on the lives of the community’s young people whose own successes and, in many cases, change of direction, have led to useful and fulfilling adulthood.”


A Man of Many Passions

by minton on July 23, 2018

The 2018 MCSP department newsletter (go to http://webapps.roanoke.edu/mcsp/minton/MCSP Times – April 2018.pdf) includes features on two distinguished graduates from the class of 1936. They are different in many ways. One was Army, one was Navy. One was an athlete, the other collected rare books. One was a Big Man on Campus, the other lived off campus. Both George Emery Wade and Stuart “Pete” Brewbaker were math majors, and both are outstanding representatives of Roanoke College.

Please don’t say that you think that George Wade’s double major in Math and English is a weird combination. Or that his career in actuarial science and his collections of historical memorabilia seem incompatible. Or that the writing of hymns and funding of an endowed professorship in music must have come from a different person. If you do think this, I’m worried that you might not see how George Wade’s life is a perfect expression of a Roanoke College liberal arts education.

George Emery Wade was born in 1913, went to Jefferson High School in Roanoke, and graduated from Roanoke College in 1936. He went by Emery while at Roanoke, which he attended as a commuter student. His math training helped him land a job at Shenandoah Life, where he met his wife Naomi. They were married for 55 years until her death in 1992. He earned a Master’s degree in actuarial science from the University of Michigan, then served in the Army as a crypt-analyst. He foreshadowed the new Actuarial Science major by 80 years!

His main career was as a pension consultant for multiple companies until his retirement in 1978. An active retirement focused on church work and collections of books and postcards from the Roanoke Valley. He donated a large set of valuable poetry books to the college as well as his extensive postcard collection ($32,000 worth!).

Some of these postcards are the only surviving photographs of a site. In this one, you see a rare image of the construction of the Sections dorm.

Wade was a benefactor of Roanoke College and an honored alumnus. He endowed scholarships and, befitting a pension consultant, participated in the college’s Charitable Gift Annuity Program. He wrote, “It’s mutually beneficial. I see it is benefiting the College, and it provides me with a nice income. It simply makes perfect sense.” As does his receiving the Roanoke College Medal in 1999, the highest honor the college gives to alumni. His name lives on through the Naomi Brandon & George Emery Wade Professorship of Music held by choir director Dr. Jeffrey Sandborg.

George Wade embodied what we strive for at Roanoke College. Devoted to service and successful in business, he had the skills and curiosity to pursue a variety of interests that just happened to include aspects of math, literature, finances, cryptography, history, and music.


Teachers of the Year

June 7, 2018

Blaire Conner (RC Math ’08) has earned the first Fauquier County Public School’s Superintendent’s Innovator of the Year award. County School Superintendent David Jeck cited Blaire as  “a teacher who demonstrates innovation, a true growth mindset, and a 21st century approach to instruction.” Blaire teaches at Liberty High School and is known for fun activities in […]

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Lambert Featured in American Physical Society (APS) Article

May 24, 2018

Link to APS article on Liam Lambert https://www.aps.org/publications/apsnews/201805/goldwater.cfm Physics and Mathematics double major, and a winner of 2018 Goldwater Scholarship in physics  

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Oh, The Words We Say!

May 24, 2018

Physics Faculty and their favorite phrases painted on mementos presented by senior class 2018; from left to right: Dr. Matt Fleenor “Tangent Unavoided“, Dr. Dan Robb “That deserves a Starburst“, Dr. Jarrett Lancaster “Sup“, and Dr. Rama Bala “It’s just algebra” As faculty often do, we not only reflect on the impact we make on […]

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Stairwell to Heaven

April 25, 2018

There is a big surprise waiting for new users of the east Trexler stairwell between the second and third floors: it looks great! Jan Minton’s HNRS 241 Mathematics and Art class took on the project as part of their community engagement activity. The “grand opening” featured tea, cookies forming an M.C. Escher tiling (note the […]

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Using Statistics to Find Trends in Data – One Student’s Experience with Kaggle

April 18, 2018

One thing that really boggles my mind is how quickly the world has changed. Yes, I remember when computers were slowly becoming the norm in the home and at schools. In school, we had designated times when we could go to the computer lab and learn how to type (thanks, Mavis Beacon), play with Logo […]

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MCSP student Liam Lambert wins Goldwater scholarship

April 6, 2018

Who is Liam Lambert? –A Quantum Physicist’s ponderings William ‘Liam’ Lambert has won a Goldwater scholarship, one of the most prestigious prizes awarded to students for their academic excellence and commitment to research in the STEM disciplines. He is one of 211 recipients out of 1248 nationwide applicants this year. So, who is Liam Lambert? […]

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Hilarity and Pi-ety

March 26, 2018

  Pi Day was served cold this year, with a la snow on the side. The unseasonably cold weather did not deter the Math Club from its celebration of 3/14 and various things mathematical. The Pi-athlon was run with teams of students solving mathematical puzzles for points, with the goal of gaining as close to […]

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