Seaway Section of the MAA: Distinguished Teaching Awards


Dr. Gary W. Towsley, - SUNY Geneseo.

Gary Towsley received a B.S. in Mathematics (with honors) from Case Institute of Technology in 1968. He received his M.A. (1971) and Ph.D. (1975) degrees from the University of Rochester, writing his dissertation on Compact Riemann Surfaces. Dr. Towsley began teaching at Geneseo in 1974, and was promoted to the rank of Professor in 1995. He was awarded the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1980, and in 1994 Dr. Towsley was named Geneseo's first Lockhart Professor, an endowed position that was established to "honor and reward the role of superior teaching at the College". In 1997 he was promoted to the rank of Distinguished Teaching Professor.

The hallmarks that set Gary Towsley apart from other excellent teachers are versatility, creativity across many disciplines, and the personal qualities of integrity helpfulness and caring. Students flock to his classes, from first semester Calculus, Theory of Equations, Linear Algebra, History of Mathematics, to Real Analysis II. His examinations are rigorous, clear and probing. His feedback to students is helpful and supportive. Professor Towsley consistently earns the highest possible numerical ratings in student evaluations, and comments from students and colleagues all confirm that Dr. Towsley is a master teacher.

In addition to his departmental contributions Dr. Towsley has taught a variety of interdisciplinary courses, including an advanced course for Physics majors (team taught), a medieval studies course for English majors, History and Philosophy of Science, and Roots of 20th Century Sciences for the College honors program. His contribution to these courses has been outstanding and has brought enthusiasm for the application of Mathematics to other fields into the classroom in settings that are far removed from the experience of most mathematicians.

Professor Towsley is an active and growing scholar. He is current in his discipline, as evident by his course offerings and by the lectures and colloquia that he has presented. When Andrew Wiles' proof of Fermat's last Theorem was announced in 1994, Professor Towsley was the faculty member that presented the Colloquium that explained the outline of the proof to other members of his department. His interest in that proof led to his offering of an undergraduate course in elliptic curves.

Dr. Towsley practices what he preaches: high standards that stretch, challenge and motivate; hard work, perseverance and diligence; doing mathematics; writing mathematics; refining one's understanding. He loves math, he loves teaching and students find that this translates into excitement that is contagious and they enjoy studying with him.