Vol. 51, Iss: 4, p. 305
April 1983


by Paul G. Hewitt

My thanks to all of you who have made this award a reality for me. I'm very grateful. It's ironic, for I find myself being honored for simply doing what I love to do best helping others discover the joy of learning   teaching. 

It's common to have a wide age distribution in our classes these days. My favorite student this past semester is 72 and is majoring in "recreational education." When I started my college education, I was the oldest student in my class. I was 27. Before that I was a signpainter in Miami, escaping the cold winters of Boston. It was in Miami that I met a Dr. Jacque Fresco, a psychologist who was a sort of "Mr. Science." He set my imagination and thirst for knowledge on fire. It was down from painting billboards and off to school for me. At Newman Preparatory School in Boston I was inspired by Mr. Joseph P. MacDonald who introduced me to my first course in physics. Then I went to Lowell Technological Institute in Lowell, Massachusetts.

At Lowell Tech there was an inspirational teacher, Dr. Raymond Gold. But Dr. Gold was inaccessible. He was up on the third floor teaching a dozen or so seniors and graduate students. We freshmen were huddled 600 in a large auditorium for our physics. The inspiration of Dr. Gold was not in our auditorium. Some of us stayed in physics, but most of my classmates went off into chemistry and engineering. I always thought that the system was backwards. Dr. Gold should have been with the 600 beginning students, and less skilled teachers should have been up in the small rooms on the third floor. It was at the end of my freshman year at Lowell Tech that I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to be a "Mr. Turn-on Man"; I wanted to be like Fresco or Gold and fire up the beginning classes. My teachers at Lowell Tech in the big classes all had master's degrees, and if I were going to do the same, I needed a master's degree. So it was off to my wife's home state, Colorado, to do my graduate work. But Colorado State University wasn't able to offer me a teaching assistantship, and having no money and a wife and two children, I was lucky that neighboring Utah State University did take me aboard. I say lucky, because I was treated to the first-rate teaching of John Merrill and Farrell Edwards who were both skilled at putting conceptual forethought into their mathematical presentations.   [. . . ]