CWU News

CWU Math Professor Awarded Prestigious MAA Prize for Exceptional Teaching

Once again, the Mathematics Department has been recognized for its outstanding faculty. Central Washington University Professor Aaron Montgomery recently received the Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics Award. The honor, given by the Pacific Northwest section of the Mathematical Association of America, is bestowed on "teachers of mathematics who are widely recognized as extraordinarily successful."

Montgomery, who has been teaching math at CWU for 16 years, stands out as "one of the best with respect to his devotion to teaching and exploring ways to support students," according to department chair Stuart Boersma (also an MAA award recipient).

Known as a versatile instructor—he teaches everything from 100 level general education math classes to graduate courses—Montgomery also has a knack for creating comprehensive courses that combine everything from mathematical modeling to anthropology. His very popular "Politics and Games" course that he teaches through the William O. Douglas Honors College, draws from philosophy, psychology, and economics as well as political science and game theory. According to Boersma, these courses are usually only taught once or twice—"but Aaron has taught this course eight times for the DHC since the fall of 2010."

One of Montgomery's main interests is in the field of quantitative literacy.

"This is really the goal of applied mathematics," Montgomery explained. “This is the ability to work with the numbers that we encounter on a daily basis — percentages, that kind of thing. And it is applicable both professionally and personally.

"For example, if you are asked to take a 10 percent pay cut, with the promise of a 10 percent pay increase later, is your situation stable or are you losing money?"

Montgomery enjoys creating puzzles to educate students in these and other mathematical principles.

He has also made meaningful contributions to mathematics teaching on a national level, authoring innovative curriculum, and developing assessment tools to better understand students' reasoning abilities.

Montgomery will receive the MAA award this June at the annual meeting in Spokane. By winning the regional honor, he has been nominated for the national Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award.

This is the third award that CWU's Math department has received for outstanding teaching. In 2014, Professor Dominic Klyve received the MAA National Distinguished Teaching Award.

Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,
March 28, 2017