Excellence squared

Two math profs share Northwest teaching award

By Greg Scheiderer

Retiring University of Puget Sound mathematics professors Ron VanEnkevort and Bruce Lind are the co-winners of this year’s Distinguished Teaching Award from the Pacific Northwest Section of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA).

The award usually goes to an individual, but Rob Beezer, chair of the math department, says VanEnkevort and Lind are in a special situation.

"Ron and Bruce began their careers at Puget Sound almost simultaneously, and retired together this summer," said Beezer of the duo, who started teaching here three decades ago. "Their careers have been so intertwined, so similarly distinguished and they have remained such close colleagues that it would have been difficult to only nominate one of them." For 15 years (1978-93) they alternated terms as chair of the department.

Lind says the fact that he and VanEnkevort are co-winners is fitting.

"It only would have been meaningful to me if he also were to receive the award," Lind said of his longtime colleague. "He’s been a true inspiration to me over the years."

A committee of the MAA selects the winners from among those nominated by their colleagues. Beezer said the two co-winners are most deserving.

Lind plans to travel but live in Tacoma after retirement and will come around to "bug my colleagues," he said. He’ll stay involved in seminars and fill in for faculty on occasion.

"I told them I’ll give an exam, but I won’t grade it," Lind joked.

VanEnkevort and his wife Shari are building a home on five acres next to the Strait of Juan de Fuca overlooking the Dungeness Spit.