GVSU math professor presented with prestigious math award

By Amanda Rogers | 8/27/18 11:19am

david clark
Courtesy of Mathematics Association of America

David Clark created acknowledgement for Grand Valley State University as he obtained one of the most prestigious awards presented by the Mathematic Association of America (MAA). Clark currently holds the position as Assistant Professor of Mathematics and is entering his 5th year here at Grand Valley State University.

On Friday, Aug. 3 Clark attended the 2018 MathFest conference in Denver, Col. where he was presented the Henry L. Alder award. The MAA, a national organization, only presents this award once a year to three educators. This award not only exhibits Clark’s hard work and dedication, it also draws attention to Grand Valley State University.

“It is a very nice recognition and I think it should reflect really well on the University and not just me,” Clark said.  

“Anybody who went to this meeting, which is one of the two most important mathematics professional meetings, would see in the program that he had won and was from Grand Valley,” said Karen Novotny, Professor and Department Chair of Mathematics. “It raises Grand Valley’s standing within the larger mathematical community.”

This powerful award is a representation of excellence in teaching. One of the main reasons Clark was nominated for this award was for his influence beyond the classroom. Clark teaches a wide variety of different math courses such as Calculus 1 & 2, Linear Algebra, Geometry and Communicating in Mathematics, but there is more than just the typical classroom setting for him. He also takes time to participate in undergraduate research and work with enrichment and outreach programs. 

One of Clark’s favorite enrichment programs is MathPath, a month long summer camp program for very talented middle school students.

“The only thing I have on those kids is experience; they are incredibly bright and very neat people,” Clark said. These are just some of the many ways Clarks shares his passion with others.

Clark stands out from other educators due to his focus on active learning when it comes to the classroom.

“In order to learn you have to be doing things, so my students do things, they don’t just listen to me talk,” Clark said. “You are going to mess up, things are going to go wrong, so I communicate the value of that.”

In the classroom, Clark makes it clear to his students that failure is a part of learning. When failure occurs, he tries to demonstrate what went wrong and how students can learn from it.

This is not the first time Clark has been recognized, he was also acknowledged by students for his unique teaching skills. Last year he won the Student Award for Faculty Excellence, which was presented by the Student Senate. 

“He is doing a great job teaching his courses and helping other mathematicians do a good job teaching their courses,” Novotny said.

Clark stands as a role model for his students, staff members and the math community. As the school year begins, Clark will continue to leave a positive effect on GVSU and mathematics. 

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