## Seaway Section of the MAA: Distinguished Teaching Awards

**1996-1997 SEAWAY SECTION DISTINGUISHED TEACHING AWARD**

Dr.
Michael Gage

Professor Michael Gage of the University of Rochester has been
selected by the Seaway Section to receive The Seaway Section Distinguished
Teaching Award. The award honors Professor Gage's history of imaginative
and enthusiastic teaching at the University of Rochester. In the nomination
of Gage of this award, a former student wrote: "One of the things I've
found impressive about Professor Gage is the degree of patience and interest
he shows when explaining things, at times, seemingly to the exclusion of
his own needs. Whether it's chatting with him over lunch or bugging him
when he's running to teach a class, I always get the impression that he'll
drop everything, if necessary, to devote the time and energy necessary to
answer a question."

Michael Gage worked with Arnold Pizer to develop WebWork, a program
for doing homework on the web. Some of the programs illustrate the
qualitative aspects of differential equations. The use of small programs
instead of large ones avoids the danger that the differential equations will
be overshadowed by the distractions of learning to use large and more
complicated programs. He has also pioneered the use of the worldwide web
at Rochester as a means of spreading information about the mathematics
department, as a way of advising students, and as a link between faculty and
students beyond the classroom.

He and Douglas Ravenel have been co-chairs of the department
committee called Meliora Mathematica. The purpose of this committee is to
revitalize the teaching of undergraduate mathematics at the University of
Rochester. Perhaps the most important initiative of this committee has been
the introduction of several experimental calculus sections called "Quest
Calculus" which differ considerably from the usual calculus. Students in
these sections do some of their homework in supervised teams and the problems
they are expected to solve are much less routine than the usual calculus
problems. These problems emphasize original thought. The major challenge
is to devise the method of solution in the form of a reasoned augment and
only then to connect the problems to the techniques of calculus. This is to
be distinguished from problems which emphasize technical difficulty alone.

Michael Gage is a graduate of Antioch College and received his PhD
in Mathematics from Stanford University in 1978. He has been on the faculty
of the University of Rochester since 1984.