Baylor University Hosts Robert Foster Cherry Award Recognition Luncheon

Sept. 13, 2010

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Baylor University will honor Dr. Edward Burger, the recipient of the 2010 Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching at a recognition luncheon from 12:15 to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15, in the Cashion Academic Center, Room 500, in the Hankamer School of Business.

Burger, who serves as professor of mathematics and Lissack Professor of Social Responsibility and Personal Ethics at Williams College, will speak at the luncheon.

"It is an enormous honor to receive the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching and I am extremely humbled by this tremendous recognition. An even greater honor, however, is to have the opportunity to join, even for a semester, Baylor University," Burger said.

The Cherry Award was created by Robert Foster Cherry, who earned his A.B. from Baylor in 1929. He enrolled in the Baylor Law School in 1932 and passed the Texas State Bar Examination the following year. With a deep appreciation for how his life had been changed by significant teachers, he made an exceptional estate bequest to establish the Cherry Award program to recognize excellent teachers and bring them in contact with Baylor students. The inaugural Robert Foster Cherry Award was presented in 1991 and is now awarded biennially.

The winner of the Cherry Award receives $200,000, along with $25,000 for the recipient's home department.

Cherry described the ideal recipient as "a lover of the acquisition of learning who can inspire his students, arouse their imagination, and stimulate their curiosity to desire to learn everything that man can know, and achieve everything that man can reach and grasp." The Cherry Award committee strongly believes Burger exemplifies those characteristics in his teaching methods.

When asked why he became a teacher, Burger said, "I get a tremendous amount of pleasure in sharing deep ideas with others and I find mathematics a wonderland of beauty and mystery. I suppose that is why I became both a mathematician and a professor of mathematics rather than follow my childhood dreams of becoming a lawyer."

As the recipient of the Cherry Award, Burger will teach two classes at Baylor during the Fall 2010 semester: Ideas in Mathematics and Foundations of Combinatorics and Algebra through Number Theory. In addition to his classes, Burger also launched a weekly "Cherry Faculty Forum."

When asked what advice he would offer future educators, Burger said, "The point of education is to transform lives. So ask yourself what will your students of today have with them from your class 10 years from now and acknowledge that the answer is not the details of the course material? What life lessons are you offering your students that they will carry with them long after they have forgotten the specifics required to pass your final? Remember that the real journey of our students begins after the so-called final exam."

For additional information on Baylor's Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching, including past recipients and the 2012 Cherry Award nomination process, visit www.baylor.edu/cherry_awards. The nomination deadline for the 2012 award is Nov. 1, 2010.

For additional information on the recognition luncheon, please call (254) 710- 2923.

About Dr. Edward B. Burger, 2010 Cherry Award Recipient

Dr. Edward B. Burger has taught mathematics at Williams College since 1990. Since that time, he has been honored with numerous teaching and writing awards, including the 2007 Award of Excellence from Technology & Learning magazine, the 2006 Reader's Digest "100 Best of America" as Best Math Teacher, and the 2006 Lester R. Ford Award, the 2004 Chauvenet Prize and the 2001 Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College Teaching of Mathematics, all from the Mathematical Association of America.

He is the author or co-author of more than 30 research articles and 21 books and CD-ROM texts, including The Heart of Mathematics: An Invitation to Effective Thinking; Coincidences, Chaos and All That Math Jazz: Making Light of Weighty Ideas (each co-authored with Michael Starbird from The University of Texas at Austin); and Extending the Frontiers of Mathematics: Inquiries into Proof and Argumentation. He also is an associate editor for The American Mathematical Monthly and a member of the editorial board for Math Horizons.

Burger also has written and appeared in hundreds of educational videos, including the 24-lecture video series, "Zero to Infinity: A History of Numbers" and "An Introduction to Number Theory" in "The Great Courses" series through The Teaching Company. Some of his college-level videos can be found at youtube.com. He also has appeared on ABC-TV, NBC-TV and NPR stations around the country.

His research interests include algebraic number theory, Diophantine analysis, geometry of numbers, and the theory of continued fractions. He teaches abstract algebra, the art of creating mathematics and Diophantine analysis. His work on fostering and teaching creativity has been recognized in a variety of ways. He is currently a Member of the Board of The Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Burger earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics summa cum laude with distinction from Connecticut College in 1985. He received his doctorate in 1990 from The University of Texas at Austin. He has taught or been a visiting scholar at the University of Waterloo in Canada, The University of Texas at Austin, Westminster College, Texas Christian University, the University of Colorado at Boulder and Macquarie University in Australia.

by Alison Higgins, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

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