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Duane Porter

OUTSTANDING FORMER FACULTY MEMBER 2019

Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Duane Porter joined the Department of Mathematics in fall of 1964 and quickly moved up the ranks, attaining full professor status in only five years. During his 40 years of service, Porter received numerous teaching awards, including the George “Duke” Humphrey Distinguished Faculty Award (1998), the John P. Ellbogen Meritorious Classroom Teaching Award (1994), the College of Arts and Sciences Extraordinary Merit for Teaching Award (1992), and the Amoco Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching (1980).

His enthusiasm for education advocacy led Porter to work with a colleague at Western Wyoming College to organize the first statewide articulation conference with UW and all seven community colleges during the 1975-1976 academic year. This annual conference continues today and is among the most important traditions in Wyoming’s higher education system. Professor Farhad Jafari notes that even before joining the Department of Mathematics in 1991, he knew about the Rocky Mountain Mathematics Consortium (RMMC) conferences. “In 1996, I had the honor of being the co-organizer of this conference with Professor Porter,” he says. “That year, the American Mathematics Society published a proceeding of the conference in a special issue of Contemporary Mathematics.”

Over the course of his career, Porter facilitated National Science Foundation (NSF) grants for many fellow faculty members and received four himself, each renewed multiple times. The first of these NSF grants funded public school high school teachers to earn their mathematics M.S.T.  “Some people came for an academic year,” Porter says, “and some people came for ten summer RMMC conferences.”  Porter’s final grant finished out its renewals in 2018. “This was to work with Native American populations in North and South Dakota,” he notes. “We got a coalition of three colleges [there] to translate the math into languages like Apache.”

Porter’s service to UW includes: director of the Rocky Mountain Mathematics Consortium Summer School (1982-1988), director of the Science-Mathematics Teaching Center (1979-1983), chairman of the Rocky Mountain Mathematics Consortium (1978-1979 and 1983-1984), and acting chair of the Department of Mathematics (summer 1976 and 1978-1979). He has supervised three Ph.D. students and numerous M.S. and M.S.T. students, and published 42 research articles.  Porter served as the liaison between the Department of Mathematics and the College of Education and offered courses on teaching methodology to math education students.

Porter coedited a well-regarded volume of linear-algebra essays, Linear Algebra Gems, as a culmination of the Linear Algebra Curriculum Study Group he spearheaded for the Mathematical Association of America (MAA).  The Group’s goal was to “initiate substantial and sustained national interest in improving the undergraduate linear algebra curriculum.” For this effort, Porter said, “We worked with industry [including] Boeing and General Electric to find out what they wanted high school students to know for hiring.”

Contributions to his profession, such as membership on the MAA Board of Governors (1978-1981) and service as the Mathematical Association of America Rocky Mountain Section Chairman (1975-1977), garnered Porter the Mathematical Association of America Certificate of Meritorious Service award (1991). For many years, Porter served on the Editorial Board of Rocky Mountain Math, a prestigious journal that is largely indexed and cited.

Porter received both his bachelor’s (1960) and master’s degrees (1961) at Michigan State University and his Ph.D. at the University of Colorado (1964). Before relocating to Colorado, Porter worked as a quality control statistician for General Motors. He was a visiting professor at Clemson University in 1977 and at Humboldt State University in 1978. Porter was elected to the New York Academy of Sciences and Who’s Who in Cambridge.  In 2000, he established a permanent fund dedicated to the Rocky Mountain Mathematics Colloquium Series.

Duane Porter

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