Mathematics professor wins Distinguished Teaching Award

Grand Valley professor of mathematics, Matthew Boelkins
Grand Valley professor of mathematics, Matthew Boelkins
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Grand Valley professor of mathematics, Matthew Boelkins, has been selected to receive the 2013 Distinguished Teaching Award from the Michigan Section of the Mathematical Association of America. The award will be presented at the organization’s annual meeting in May.

Boelkins, who lives in Jenison, has taught at Grand Valley since 1998. In 2003 he received the university’s Pew Teaching Excellence Award in the Science and Mathematics Division.

Grand Valley mathematics professor Ted Sundstrom, who nominated Boelkins for the award, said faculty members in the department have commented about Boelkins’ ability to maintain high academic standards and expectations for students while simultaneously enjoying extremely positive relationships with his students. “His influence on the teaching profession goes well beyond Grand Valley,” said Sundstrom. “He and a colleague have twice organized a 40-hour summer workshop for teachers of AP Calculus.”

Sundstrom also noted Boelkins’ willingness to give of himself in the service of learning, in that during a recent sabbatical leave, he wrote a free, open source textbook for first semester calculus, with materials for second semester in progress. The text may be viewed at http://bit.ly/P8cguM.

Boelkins also maintains a blog focused on free resources for teaching calculus at http://opencalculus.wordpress.com. This text may be used by instructors and students of differential calculus at Grand Valley and other universities, in order to replace the use of for-profit textbooks and proprietary software. “Dr. Boelkins is truly an inspiration to those of us who have the privilege of being his colleague,” said Sundstrom.

Boelkins will also be the Michigan Section nominee for the national MAA Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Awards for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics. Each of the three national winners will be honored at the national MAA meeting in January 2014.