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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mathematics Educator: UNCP readies search for Allen C. Meadors Distinguished Professor

UNC Pembroke will begin a search in January for an educator to fill the new Allen C. Meadors Distinguished Professorship in Mathematics.

Allen C. MeadorsCo-chairing the search committee will be Dr. Leah Fiorentino, dean of the School of Education, and Dr. Steven Bourquin, chair of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science.

A joint search committee of this type is unusual, but it reflects the dual mathematics and education role of the new professorship. Further, the search committee may include a public school administrator.

“We’re looking for someone with experience in and a commitment to K-12 education,” Dean Fiorentino said. “This will be a collaborative effort.

“This professor will likely hold office hours some days in the Math Department and other days in the School of Education,” the education dean said.

The endowed or permanent professorship is UNCP’s sixth and honors Chancellor Emeritus Meadors, who retired on June 30, 2009.

Speaking from his office at the University of Central Arkansas, where he is president, Dr. Meadors said the naming of the distinguished professorship is a great honor.

“First and foremost, I am so pleased that UNCP will now have an endowed chair in mathematics,” Dr. Meadors said. “It is so important that wonderful students have every opportunity to reach their fullest potential in mathematics.

“As UNCP continues to be a leader in providing a high quality STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education, it will be able to continue to raise the bar for all students in North Carolina and beyond,” he continued. “And, of course, I am honored that this wonderful University was so kind to place my name on this dynamic opportunity for UNCP.”

 Dr. Bourquin said the educator who fills the endowed chair will harness the resources of higher education to benefit public education.

“This faculty member will facilitate professional development of K-12 teachers, and will be committed to the integration of advanced technology into the classroom,” Dr. Bourquin said. “He or she will also stimulate the development of great teachers of mathematics here at UNCP.”

Dean Fiorentino said that the goal of the search is to find a mathematics educator who understands the challenges of education in rural communities. The departments have high expectations for the position, and they are committed to a successful search, she said.

Mathematics educators in the region’s public schools are sorely needed, and it fits into the University’s historic mission, said Dr. Charles Harrington, provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs.

“UNC Pembroke has a very proud history of preparing mathematics and science teachers,” Dr. Harrington said. “The need to provide a solid foundation in mathematics and science with a focus on technology literacy is ever increasing. 

“Our hope with this professorship is to work with our regional K-12 partners in order to take teaching and learning to a new level,” he continued. “One in which math and science preparedness for college and vocational employment is viewed as a model for other regions.”

Dean Fiorentino echoed Dr. Harrington’s comments.

“UNCP was founded as a normal school to train American Indian teachers, so this position honors that tradition,” she said. “It also meets a pressing need for high quality mathematics teachers in our local communities.”

The endowment will be funded by a $250,000 gift from the C.D. Spangler Foundation, Inc. It will be the second of as many as five chairs at UNCP funded by the foundation, which pledged $26.9 million to establish up to 96 professorships at the 16 UNC campuses.

The North Carolina General Assembly’s Distinguished Professors Endowment Trust Fund will match the challenge grant from the Spangler Foundation. As an endowment, the gift will fund the professorship forever.

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