Davidsonís Ben Klein says that good teachers must demonstrate a personal interest in their students and their studentsí academic achievements. He adds that good teachers also try to convey to students a sense of excitement about their courses.
Klein, the Beverly F. Dolan Professor of Mathematics, clearly practices what he preaches. He has won two previous teaching honors, and now has received the 1999 Distinguished Teaching Award from the southeastern section of the Mathematics Association of America (MAA). About 350 of the 2,000 members of the section, which covers five states, were gathered for its annual meeting in Memphis when the award was presented on March 12.
Klein responded to the award modestly, saying, "Itís humbling to be recognized by the association, particularly at a place like Davidson where there are so many good teachers. I prefer to consider myself not as an individual in this case, but as a representative of my department and the entire institution."
An awards committee of the section selected Klein based on his collaborative approach to learning. His citation noted, "The student who simply wants to be told how to work a problem quickly learns that is not going to happen. Ben will gently prompt the student to define the concepts involved, to state relevant theorems, and to take ever larger steps in the process. The reward is a mathematical idea acquired, and some good cheering from Ben along the way."
The citation also noted Kleinís leadership both on the Davidson campus and in the MAA. He has been a member of the MAAís southeastern section since coming to Davidson in 1971. He served on many of its committees, and was its chair from 1993-95. He currently co-edits the problem section for its "College Mathematics Journal." He has also been vice president for colleges in the western region of the North Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCCTM), and is a frequent speaker at NCCTM meetings.
He not only teaches math at Davidson, but holds the title of interim chair of the collegeís department of education, based on his long-time service as chair of the teacher education committee. That follows a distinguished record of other college service that includes department chair, vice chair of the faculty pro tem, and interim dean of the faculty.
His teaching has been previously recognized with Davidsonís 1990 Thomas Jefferson Award, and the "North Carolina Professor of the Year" award in 1991 from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
Davidson College is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,750 students. Since its establishment in 1837, the college has graduated 22 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country by "U.S. News and World Report" magazine.