Math Conference to Honor, Celebrate Professors

Thompson to Retire, Wiggins to Return to Full-Time Teaching

By: Hilary Nieland

Ken Wiggins and Tom Thompson

A weekend event to honor math professors Tom Thompson and Ken Wiggins will be held starting May 17. The first event, a series of academic presentations, will feature several speakers, including Walla Walla University Professor Carlton Cross, graduates Kevin Vixie, Andrea Hawkins-Daarud, Jason Damazo, and several others. Presentation topics will include cancer research, mathematical biology, the mathematics of medical imaging, and shock physics.

Presentations will take place from 9 a.m to 4:30 p.m. with a noon lunch break. A recognition ceremony will immediately follow the presentations, and a banquet at 6 p.m. will conclude the day’s events. Registration is free however, attendees are asked to pre-register online at math.wallawalla.edu/conferences/TomAndKen

Thompson graduated from WWU in 1968. He then earned a master’s degree from the University of Washington and a doctoral degree from the University of California at Davis. Thompson began teaching at WWU in 1971. During his time at the university he has received several awards, including the Pacific Northwest Mathematical Association of America 2012 Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics. In June, Thompson will retire from a 40-year career at Walla Walla University.

Wiggins also graduated from WWU in 1968, then proceeded to earn a doctoral degree from Montana State University. He returned to WWU to teach in 1980 and became the department chair in 1992. Wiggins, who will step down as chair of the Mathematics Department at the end of the school year, has expressed that he is looking forward to spending more time in the classroom.

Conference coordinators are also collecting funds to start the Thomas M. Thompson and Kenneth L. Wiggins Excellence in Scholarship Fund, which will provide scholarships to WWU mathematics students as well as support for students traveling to give presentations at mathematics conferences. The two professors have generously offered to match up to $10,000 of the funds raised for the scholarship.

The conference begins at 9 a.m. on Friday, May 17, and will continue until 4:30 p.m. that evening. A banquet will follow at 6 p.m. at the Walla Walla Country Club. Sabbath morning events include Sabbath school at 10:30 in Room 154 of the Chan Shun Pavilion, church service at 11:45 at the University Church, and a haystack lunch at 1:30.

Those unable to attend are encouraged to record a short video greeting for Thompson and Wiggins to be shared at the Friday evening banquet. Videos to be shared privately with Thompson and Wiggins are also welcomed.

The conference is free to attend and includes a light lunch. Tickets for banquet are $20 each. Pre-registration is required for both the conference and the banquet. For more information, to register, or to donate, go to math.wallawalla.edu/conferences/TomAndKen or email TomAndKen@math.wallawalla.edu.


Published April 24, 2013

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