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Published April 25, 2016
Myron Allen is a math guy. If you crunch the numbers on his career at the University of Wyoming, you will learn that in 33 years he has taught 32 different courses in algebra, analysis and applied mathematics; served as head of the Department of Mathematics for six years; and spent 14 years in the Office of Academic Affairs as associate vice president and later as provost.
Allen, a professor in UW’s Department of Mathematics, is the winner of the 2016 John P. Ellbogen Lifetime Teaching Award. The Ellbogen award recognizes the long, distinguished and exemplary career of one senior faculty member who has excelled as a teacher at UW.
“I feel extremely privileged to have worked with and learned from so many superb teachers, especially in the Department of Mathematics,” Allen says. “I’m also deeply grateful to Jack Ellbogen’s family and to the Ellbogen Foundation. Their unwavering commitment to excellence in teaching has been a lighthouse for UW professors, department heads, deans and provosts for many decades.”
Allen’s colleagues laud his teaching prowess.
“Since his arrival at UW over 30 years ago, Myron has been known as a ‘must-take’ teacher,” says Bryan Shader, a UW professor of mathematics and special assistant to the vice president for research and economic development who nominated Allen for the award. “Students find that he incorporates state-of-the-art topics into his classes, presents the material in ways that connect the mathematics to their lives and their chosen profession, provides challenges as well as the support to provide the experience of applying their textbook knowledge to real problems, and gives regular, thoughtful feedback on their work.”
Farhad Jafari, another UW professor of mathematics, concurred about Allen’s effectiveness in the classroom.
“Myron’s teaching is a model in clarity, organization and precision,” says Jafari, who also wrote a nomination letter on Allen’s behalf. “To watch him teach is to watch him write a textbook on the board that will be ready to submit to a publisher at the end of the class period. He combines knowledge, intelligence, empathy and humor to make the material interesting, relevant and exciting.”
Li Wu, a math professor at the University of Rhode Island, had Allen as her doctoral adviser while she attended UW. Wu says Allen was always well prepared for class and presented interesting examples to motivate theoretical analysis.
“Myron is the one who truly cares about his students. He often says, ‘Let’s work out what’s the best for you,’” Wu recalls. “He cares about our progress, our study, our teaching, and often shares his experience with us and gives us his suggestions, which really helps a lot.”
Allen recently designed a first-year seminar, called Math 1011: Infinity and Beyond, which he is teaching this semester. He co-wrote a successful grant proposal to the National Science Foundation to enrich doctoral training in math through a three-year, multi-institutional project that involves UW and Colorado School of Mines. He also is the author of a graduate-level textbook, “Numerical Analysis for Applied Science,” and wrote the textbook “Continuum Mechanics: The Birthplace of Mathematical Models.”
Allen’s achievements outside the classroom are many as well. He contributed to developing three successive five-year strategic plans; as associate vice president and later as provost, helped increase by 13 percent the number of faculty members in tenure-stream positions and 22 percent overall between 2001-2012; developed a proposal for an interdisciplinary School of Energy Resources; established permanent funding for distinguished visiting faculty positions in African American and Diaspora Studies and American Indian Studies; and was a key member of an administrative team that helped bring the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center to Cheyenne in 2012, among numerous other administrative accomplishments.
Allen received his Ph.D. in mathematical engineering and his master’s degree in applied mathematics, both from Princeton University; and his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics from Dartmouth College.