Campus boasts fourth Eisenhower Award winner in last six years

David Wells, associate professor of mathematics at Penn State New Kensington, was selected for the 2009 Milton S. Eisenhower Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Penn State annually honors faculty and staff for the highest levels of academic excellence, outstanding leadership and meritorious service. The Eisenhower Award recognizes excellence in teaching and student support among tenured faculty members who have been employed full time for at least five years, with undergraduate teaching as a major portion of their duties. Milton S. Eisenhower, brother of former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, served as president of Penn State from 1950 to 1956.

Arlene E. Hall, director of academic affairs at the New Kensington campus, said the award is significant not only because it honors a respected faculty member, but because it is the fourth time in six years that a Penn State New Kensington professor has earned the Eisenhower Award. Javier Gomez-Calderon, professor of mathematics, earned the award in 2007. K. Robert Bridges, associate professor of psychology, received the award in 2005 and Linda L. Shoop, retired associate professor of education, was a 2004 recipient.

In addition to the campus' Eisenhower award honorees, New Kensington campus faculty member, William Hamilton, assistant professor of biology, was recognized in 2003 with the George W. Atherton Award. Named after the University's seventh president, the Atherton recognizes faculty who have developed a record of excellence in undergraduate teaching.

"We are certainly privileged to have such excellent faculty members at Penn State New Kensington," Hall said. "Dr. Wells is one of our very best who exemplifies Penn State excellence."

Wells, who has more than 29 years of outstanding teaching at Penn State New Kensington, is described by one nominator as “a model of a college mathematics teacher. He is a scholar whose scholarship enhances his teaching, and he is a teacher who derives pleasure and satisfaction from teaching and from mathematics.”

His development of unusual problems with surprising solutions for use in his classes has led to his involvement with high school mathematics contests, chairing a committee responsible for creation of a national contest taken by more than 100,000 students annually. Many professional mathematicians cite the contests as the source of their initial interest in mathematics.

In this role, another nominator wrote, Professor Wells “has indirectly provided mathematical mentoring for untold numbers of students and teachers through his elegant and beautiful problems. I can tell that this ability to teach through problem solving has been developed over years of experience in the classroom working with students of all types.”

Wells joined the Penn State faculty in 1979 after serving six years as assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh and Ohio Dominican College. His scholarly activity has focused primarily on mathematics education

At the New Kensington campus, he teaches courses on college algebra, calculus, and matrices, and is developing tutorials and application-based activities for Penn State's college algebra courses.

For more about Wells, visit online.


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Last Updated March 26, 2009