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Incoming mathematics department chairman adds to Baylor equation

Nov. 9, 2006

By ERIN PEDIGO
Reporter

Dr. Lance Littlejohn, the math department's incoming chairman, is visiting Baylor this week before returning to his work as a professor at Utah State University.

Littlejohn will replace Dr. Robert Piziak as department chairman of mathematics on January 1.

Littlejohn will remain a professor at Utah State until then, and after Littlejohn takes his new position, Piziak will return to teaching.

Littlejohn said he is originally from St. Thomas, Canada, which is 120 miles west of Toronto.

He said he holds citizenship in three countries: the United States, Britain and Canada.

Littlejohn has taught at Utah State for 23 and a half years and been a full professor for four.

It was while Littlejohn was teaching at Utah State University that he became one of the two candidates chosen to come to Baylor for interviews, Piziak said.

The search for a department chair began about two years ago, Littlejohn said.

The type of candidate the department sought was someone who would be able to further the math department toward its goal of becoming "recognized and respected" in the Big 12, and Littlejohn fit the bill, Piziak said.

Littlejohn said he accepted the position of department chair about a year ago.

While faculty members in the department were involved in the search for a new chairman, they didn't make the final pick, Piziak said.

The provost, Dr. Randall O'Brien, who holds office directly underneath the President John Lilley, interviewed the candidates, he said.

Piziak said the process was conducted by the dean, who hires department chairs.

A 2/3 vote was required by the department to bring candidates in for interviews, he said.

Johnny Henderson, a distinguished professor of mathematics at Baylor and friend of Littlejohn, who said he was suited for the job.

Henderson said that Littlejohn was well-qualified and had a "certain humility" that was likeable.

Littlejohn said the first few months in his new position will be spent learning from the other members of the department.

He said he will oversee day-to-day department operations, be in charge of hiring and make sure things are running smoothly.

He described these things as "very typical duties for a department chair."

Littlejohn said he was excited to work in the new space in the Baylor Sciences Building and was confident it would be ready for the faculty in January.