Contrary to popular opinion, the field of mathematics is creative, even beautiful
- particularly to mathematicians. In a similar way, beauty can be found in the general education courses new undergraduate students might be tempted to rush through, as if merely items to check off on a list.
So says Dr. Catherine Abbott, professor of mathematics at Keuka College and the 2013-14 Professor of the Year. Delivering the keynote address Tuesday at academic convocation, Abbott, a 13-year veteran among the faculty, welcomed new freshmen and transfer students to campus and challenged them to seek new learning experiences within the diverse array of possibilities available to them.
Often Abbott says she is asked why she enjoys mathematics, but the question is frequently delivered in much the same tone as when Abbott asked her young daughter why she would want to dye her hair with Kool-Aid. As laughter peppered the rows of those seated in Norton Chapel, Abbott then explained what it is about math that she finds so satisfying.
“Many times students tell me they like mathematics because, ‘there is only one answer,’” she said, adding such a response often tempts her to reply that while there may only be one answer, there are frequently “multiple ways to get there.”
Citing the Pythagorean Theorem as one such example, Abbott pointed to some of her favorite distinctive mathematical proofs including one attributed to Euclid, one by former U.S. President James Garfield, and a 1939 proof, devised by American Maurice Laisnez, then a high school student. What all three shared in common, Abbott said, was the desire to create.
So too, Abbott discovered her own creativity – and an appreciation for the creativity of other mathematicians – as she worked to solve complex equations. It sometimes took days, and then weeks to solve questions as an undergraduate and later, grad student, she described. While completing her doctorate, it could take months. While it felt “tremendous” when finally solving a challenging theorem, she said, there were also many other questions she was never able to answer. Still, mathematicians the world over use words like “elegant” to describe the beauty, even poetry within their equations and proofs.
“What makes a proof or theorem ‘elegant?’ I don’t think I could hope to quantify it any more than I could hope to explain my tastes in art, music, or literature—or our current math majors’ obsession with Dr. Who, for that matter,” she said.
According to Abbott, she chose the discipline of mathematics “for much the same reasons my colleagues on the faculty have made their choices. My field is creative, beautiful, challenging, and exciting.”
“What about you?” she asked, turning the question to students. “What is going to excite you? Will it be the English course where you learn to appreciate a piece of poetry for the first time? Will it be the history course where you really understand the relationship between World War I and World War II?”
Citing her own experience entering college with an undecided major, Abbott advised students not to hurry through general education courses, lest they miss the hidden beauty of diverse subjects.
“You wouldn’t drive from New York to California without taking time to appreciate the scenery,” she said.
“How do I know this? From my office directly across from Jephson 101, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy some fantastic classes during the last thirteen years,” Abbott said, referring to a central lecture hall in the Jephson Science Center. “So take your time to enjoy these courses. You may not find your passion, but then again, you may. I wish you success in your journey here at Keuka College.”
Also welcoming news students with brief remarks at academic convocation were College President Dr. Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera and Robert Schick, chair of the Board of Trustees. The ceremony marks the official opening of the 2014-15 academic year and includes a colorful processional with upperclassman bearing flags from around the world and faculty in regalia lining the sidewalk to Norton Chapel and applauding new students as they enter. The symbolic rite of passage is an annual tradition for the College.
Keuka College welcomes its new students to campus Wednesday, Aug. 20.
Returning students, faculty, and staff were on hand to welcome the newest members of the Keuka College family, answer questions, and assist moving the students into their rooms.
All new students will participate in the Transition Week program, which includes sessions addressing new student issues, academics, team-building, social activities, and preparation for the first day of classes. The week’s activities mark the transition to college life and give newcomers the opportunity to prepare for their new role as Keuka College students.
Classes begin Monday, Aug. 25.
The Keuka College women’s volleyball team earned a share of the North Eastern Athletic Conference’s (NEAC) regular-season championship during the 2013-14 season, finishing 23-7 overall and 9-1 in NEAC play.
The successes of the team were not limited to the court.
Under head coach Ben Guiliano, the 20 student-athletes on the women’s volleyball team excelled in the classroom, maintaining a 3.30 team grade point average.
That mark earned the team an American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Team Academic Award for academic success.
The AVCA Team Academic Award, which originated in the 1992-93 academic year, honors collegiate and high school volleyball teams that displayed excellence in the classroom during the school year by maintaining at least a 3.30 cumulative team GPA on a 4.0 scale, or a 4.10 cumulative team GPA on a 5.0 scale.
“I’m very proud of our team winning this award,” said Guiliano, who enters his fourth season leading the volleyball program.
“We have a bunch of academically and goal-oriented young women in our program who are well-rounded and balanced. When it comes to their academics, they’re serious about what they’re doing. While we expect that kind of academic success, it’s a tribute to each of the individuals that worked hard to accomplish their academic goals. These are accountable and responsible student-athletes that get the job done on the court and in the classroom.”
Keuka College is one of 129 NCAA Division III women’s team recipients for the 2013-14 season, and one of three NEAC programs to earn the honor, along with the College of St. Elizabeth (N.J.) and Gallaudet University (D.C.).
“This is a big accomplishment and it’s an expectation that is set for the future student-athletes,” Guiliano added. “We know we can be successful athletes and successful students at the same time, and here’s the proof.”
The AVCA set a new record with 684 teams being honored this school year, exceeding last year’s mark of 623.
Since the award’s inception in 1993, the amount of award winners has increased from 62 to 684. Over 1,000 different schools have earned the award in the program’s 22-year history, with 6,126 awards been given out in total.
For the latest stories, schedules and results from Keuka athletics, visit www.KeukaStorm.com or go to the Keuka Athletics Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/KeukaAthletics. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @KeukaAthletics.
Few places love wine as much as the Finger Lakes region does. But have you ever wondered just how much you actually know about what you drink? The first in Keuka College’s Lectures by the Lake series will be a wine workshop held Friday, Aug. 15 from 3 – 5 p.m. in the Geiser Refectory.
The workshop will feature a presentation by Associate Professor of Management David Romm.
Prof. Romm will tell the story of wine and what it means to us, how it’s been made, fought over, and appreciated from 4000 BCE to the present day. Prof. Romm’s presentation will be followed by a wine and cheese reception featuring musicians from the Eastman School of Music.
Prof. Romm is uniquely qualified to speak on the subject. His corporate experience spans prestigious brands and venues such as the World Trade Center in New York and the Vista International Hotel in Washington D.C.
While at the World Trade Center, Prof. Romm had sole management responsibility for 23 different food service and catering operations located in every part of the complex. His operations served a wide variety of markets, ranging from vending machines to fine-dining restaurants and employed more than 400 people, earned annual revenues in excess of $12 million and served more than 20,000 people every day.
During Prof. Romm’s tenure at the World Trade Center, he worked with Kevin Zraly, the world-famous sommelier and wine educator. Zraly was wine director at the World Trade Center’s Windows on the World, which was widely hailed as one of the highest-grossing restaurants in the U.S.
In Washington D.C., Prof. Romm organized a wine school that attracted leading California winemakers. Throughout his career, he has also served as a consultant for such organizations as Intercontinental Hotels and Resorts, Marriott Corporation, Gallop Inc., Nestle Inc. and Hilton International. Prof. Romm has presented management seminars in England, Italy, Spain and Indonesia. He has also consulted for Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, N.M. and The Omega Institute in Rhinebeck.
Prof. Romm began teaching at Keuka College in 1991 and currently teaches several courses including Food and Society, which focuses on the complex and significant role food plays in all aspects of our lives.
Tickets for the workshop are $15. Seating is limited, so advanced reservations are advised. Click Here to RSVP Now.
Keuka College’s new Lectures by the Lake series is designed for community members to learn about topics of regional interest from some of the College’s most revered subject-matter experts.
For more information call (315) 279-5238 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Juan Jones, an admissions specialist at Corning Community College (CCC) in Corning, was recently named winner of the Joint Presidential Scholarship. This partnered award from Keuka College and CCC provides a full-time CCC employee a tuition-paid degree through Keuka College’s Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP). Jones is the sixth recipient of this scholarship award, and plans to begin his education this August.
Jones currently holds an A.S. degree in humanities and social science from CCC and plans to further his education with a B.S. in organizational management from Keuka College. He first started school at the CCC Elmira campus, which used to house a Head Start program. Since then he has spent more than 20 years working with the local Elmira community. Whether it is volunteering at his local library, helping with the Chemung County Head Start program, or volunteering in the Elmira City School District. Jones looks forward to using the new skills he’ll gain by acquiring a higher education.
Kimberly Morgan, director of admissions for ASAP, said that Jones is held in such high regard “it was like he was the mayor,” and at least 20 people came to the ceremony to honor his achievement.
Embodying the ideal of service and giving back, Jones is planning on using the scholarship to better serve his community and said he was “truly honored” to receive it.
The B.S. in organizational management program at Keuka College features an accelerated format; students attend class one night a week and complete their degree requirements in less than two years.
Keuka College offers seven degree programs through ASAP: four bachelor’s degree programs (criminal justice systems, nursing, organizational management, and social work) and three master’s degree programs (criminal justice administration, management, and nursing). Classes are offered at some 20 locations in New York State, including Corning Community College.
For more information on ASAP, contact the Center for Professional Studies at 866-255-3852 or asap.keuka.edu.