Claude Joseph Phillip Poux testimony

Temple U. PBK biography

Claude Joseph Phillip Poux Testimony

"C. Dwight Lahr is æ as far as anyone knows æ the first black scholar to be tenured in mathematics within the Ivy League group. After a stint at Bell Labs as a post-doc he joined Dartmouth's Mathematics Department in the mid-1970's at the behest of the distinguished mathematician John George Kemeny who saw great promise in the young Ph.D. (Kemeny later became Dartmouth's 13th President.) Lahr was tenured in due course and served as Dartmouth's Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences during the turbulent 1980's when the notorious conservative student rag - The Dartmouth Review - was motivating unfathomable treatment of black faculty, staff and students.

Professor Lahr has been a superbly effective guide and or mentor to black students who have passed through Dartmouth's hallowed halls as well as to black faculty and staff who have taken up permanent residence there. Professor Lahr works tirelessly behind the scenes in an effort to mitigate unacceptable treatment and regard of black people who find themselves inexplicably maligned within the Dartmouth College community.

In my case, his presence at Dartmouth was the critical factor in my having successfully sustained a five-year appointment there in the late 1990's. Professor Lahr helped me cope with irregular, bizarre behaviors that seemed to be directed at me during my tenure in Hanover. In effect, Professor Lahr validated my reality when I began to question what I had perceived.

For example, there was a Dartmouth faculty who, for reasons that always eluded me, simply did not acknowledge my presence even when I spoke to him. After I alerted Professor Lahr of the behavior, he deftly seized an opportunity to rope me and said professor into a conversation with him to see what would happen. As he addressed his colleague æ making repeated references to me as I stood not a yard away from this individual, Professor Lahr witnessed æ to his utter amazement æ this professor's inability and refusal to acknowledge that I even existed, never mind the fact that I was standing right there! Our conversation went on for at least 15 minutes before the other professor excused himself and went his way. Unfortunately for me, such treatment was closer to the norm at Dartmouth than one would deign to imagine. Indeed, my Dartmouth experience was, quite simply, a particularly perverse iteration of Ellis' Invisible Man. Thankfully, Professor Lahr was there to help me validate my existential angst.

Finally, the inspiration that I derived from Professor Lahr (and his wonderful family) ultimately enabled me to summon the courage and motivation to resume my academic studies, which had languished for well over a decade due to chronic health problems. The opportunity presented itself towards the end of my tenure at Dartmouth when my illness apparently went into remission. To wit, I am incredulous as I take note of the fact that at this point in time (the spring of 2004) I will depart from the University of Chicago in just over a year after having completed three graduate degrees in three distinct disciplines. Without a doubt, I could not have partaken of such an extraordinarily intellectual atmosphere in which I will have frolicked for nearly five years without Professor Lahr's support and encouragement.

In sum, Professor Lahr is one of the elements that comprises the greatness that is to be experienced at Dartmouth.

Temple University Phi Beta Kappa Biography

Dartmouth College Professor of Mathematics Dwight Lahr didn't realize until recently that there are 12,335 references to him on the Dartmouth website, most of them having to do with his innovative teaching methods and his fields of specialization in functional analysis and educational computing. He insists that much of his interest in math today can be traced directly back to one teacher who made a real difference in his life. Mrs. Hillman, who taught math at Roosevelt Junior High School in Philadelphia, recognized his aptitude for math and placed him in an academically advanced class. "It was the beginning of a wonderful time for me. I owe her a lot," he admits.

Dwight Lahr insists that much of his interest in math today can be traced directly back to one teacher who made a real difference in his life. Mrs. Hillman, who taught math at Roosevelt Junior High School in Philadelphia, recognized his aptitude for math and placed him in an academically advanced class. "It was the beginning of a wonderful time for me. I owe her a lot," he admits.

In his senior year at Central High School, Harvard and Temple were among the schools wooing the budding young academic. He had a scholarship in his pocket. He could have gone anywhere. "Temple University was a better match because most of the students were from working class families, as I was." And he liked the idea that he could walk to campus from his home on Bouvier Street between 17th and 18th and Susquehanna and Dauphin. It was clear from the start that math was going to be his major at Temple. Why math? "I decided on math because there is no ambiguity between right and wrong." He has never looked back. He finshed Temple University with an A.B. (Magna Cum Laude) in Mathematics.

In 1966, during that summer right after his graduation from Temple and before going off to Syracuse University for his PhD, Lahr worked at the Willow Grove Naval Air Station, where he solidified his interest in working with computers. After working as a mathematician at Bell Laboratories, he taught for a year as a visiting professor at Amherst College. In 1975, he joined the mathematics department at Dartmouth where he has been ever since. In addition to his teaching and research, he has held a variety of administrative posts, including Associate Dean for Sciences, Dean of Graduate Studies, and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences-the first African- American Dean of Faculty in the Ivy League, and the only tenured African- American mathematics professor in the Ivy League.

Throughout his distinguished career, Professor Lahr has maintained a particular interest in improving mathematics and science education. He has been involved in curricular innovation at the undergraduate level ranging from courses in introductory calculus to a course in mathematical literacy for humanities and social science students. Perhaps the most rewarding project of his career is his design and creation of an institute at Dartmouth that brought urban and rural public secondary school teachers to campus in the summers to train them in new modes of learning and teaching in a computer- rich environment. The ultimate goal of his institute was to make a positive impact on the lives of African American and Hispanic high school students.
Dr. Lahr is currently working on a project with that will put Advanced Placement courses into urban high schools across the nation via the Internet. He is heading up the calculus segment and intends to make use of his new book Principles of Calculus Modeling: An Interactive Approach, which comes complete with videos and on-line homework.

from May 2003



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