UW mathematics professor Farhad Jafari receives lifetime teaching award

Wyoming News April 24, 2018



UW mathematics professor Farhad Jafari receives lifetime teaching award

Laramie, WY. – University of Wyoming Department of Mathematics Professor Farhad Jafari was recognized in 2015 with UW’s George Duke Humphrey Award, the university’s top faculty honor, for his overall contributions to UW.

Now, Jafari’s excellence specific to teaching has brought him further recognition.

Jafari is the winner of the 2018 John P. Ellbogen Lifetime Teaching Award, which recognizes the long, distinguished and exemplary career of one senior faculty member who has excelled as a teacher at UW.

“Dr. Jafari has shared his exceptional gift for teaching with this university for many years, and I have yet to meet the student who was not immeasurably improved by knowing him,” wrote former student Monica Bockman. “Those of us who have been privileged enough to meet him, converse with him and be taught by him are eternally grateful for what he has done for us. He makes us better students, better teachers, better mathematicians.”

Jafari came to UW in 1989, rising from assistant professor to associate professor to full professor, and serving as head of the Department of Mathematics from 2009-2015. He has taught classes ranging from entry-level calculus to advanced graduate courses — in all, 15 different undergraduate classes and 11 different graduate-level courses — and he is consistently one of the most sought-after math teachers at UW, colleague Myron Allen says.

“By bringing his expertise to bear on his teaching, Dr. Jafari exemplifies the best that a research university can offer: substantive, cutting-edge teaching that draws on a career’s worth of scholarly exploration,” Allen wrote. “He is one of UW’s most prominent exemplars of the nexus between teaching, research and academic leadership — a link that lies at the heart of the research university.”

“Farhad’s courses are known to be cutting-edge, inherently interdisciplinary, challenging and must-takes,” wrote colleague Bryan Shader. “He deftly makes developing mathematical theories accessible to students of various backgrounds.”

Jafari’s other teaching awards include the Ellbogen Award for Meritorious Classroom Teaching (1996); the CASE Wyoming Professor of the Year (1996); four Mortar Board Top Prof Awards (1994, 1996, 1997, 2014); two Extraordinary Merit in Teaching Awards in the College of Arts and Sciences (1993, 2001); and two Arts and Sciences Top 10 Faculty Awards (1997, 2002).

Jafari has supervised to completion eight Ph.D. students and has four in progress. He also has advised seven undergraduate honors students.

“I can say, quite frankly and confidently, that Dr. Jafari is … the absolute finest educator I have ever had the privilege to study under,” wrote current Ph.D. student Bryce Christopherson. “He has given me, and many others, the most true and precious gift an educator might offer: the courage to do and think; to labor shamelessly toward understanding; and to see the inevitable failures this endeavor brings with it as curiosities to be studied with joy, undeterred and persistent in the face of any setback.”

Jafari’s other activities include serving as director, since 2012, of the annual Rocky Mountain Mathematics Consortium Summer School, which brings 60-70 graduate students and faculty from all over the world to UW for three weeks; and working as co-principal investigator on a National Science Foundation-sponsored program to make math an attractive interdisciplinary subject for Wyoming middle school teachers and students through development of computer games and robot activities.

“Thanks to Farhad’s inclusive leadership and thoughtfulness, my colleagues across the state and I feel a sense of community between the colleges and the university,” wrote Mohamed Chakhad, math instructor at Laramie County Community College. “Farhad’s interest in the opinions and concerns of fellow community college instructors is striking.”

Jafari received a Ph.D. (1989) and M.A. (1986) in mathematics; a Ph.D. (1983) and M.S. (1980) in medical physics; and a B.S. (1978) in chemistry and physics, all from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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