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Steve Chaplin
IU Communications

Last modified: Thursday, March 28, 2013

IU professor receives Mathematical Association of America's Indiana Distinguished Teacher Award

March 28, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- An Indiana University professor of mathematics credited by his peers with teaching the most diverse set of courses in the history of the department -- 38 courses with distinct catalog numbers -- has received the Distinguished Teaching Award from the Indiana Section of the Mathematical Association of America.

Chuck Livingston

Chuck Livingston

Print-Quality Photo

"Unfailingly helpful," one former student said of Chuck Livingston. "As much a friend as a mentor," another noted. "Remained encouraging through all the different stages of my graduate student life ... Patient and nonjudgmental," a third added.

Livingston, appointed to the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Mathematics in 1980, had already received the department's highest teaching honor -- the Rothrock Teaching Award -- and has twice (2001 and last year) received the IU Trustees' Teaching Award.

The author of 70 research papers and the MAA textbook "Knot Theory," Livingston is considered a leader in the field of knot theory and geometric topology. "Knot Theory" received the Association of American Publishers' Outstanding Mathematics Book of the Year, and his paper "Enhanced Linking Numbers" was honored with MAA's Lester R. Ford Award for articles of expository excellence.

"Chuck can be seen spending long hours with his students, and his care extends beyond mathematics to their lives and personal well-being," department chair Kevin Zumbrun said. "And he is the conscience of the department, always looking out for the 'little guy,' whether it is grad student working conditions, undergraduate class size or oversight, or faculty governance issues."

Livingston has served as director of undergraduate studies for the department, in addition to two terms on the College's Committee for Undergraduate Education and seven years on the College's Individualized Major Program Committee. In 2005 he co-authored "Working With Numbers and Statistics: A Handbook for Journalists" with IU journalism professor Paul Voakes in an effort to address an urgent need in modern journalism for a better understanding of quantitative and statistical information.

Absent from the above list of achievements, according to IU math professors Jim Davis and Paul Kirk, "is the important but not easily quantifiable influence that he has had on his colleagues in the mathematics department in all aspects of teaching and curriculum issues."

"He contributed to campus-wide discussion and reexamination of the proposed Health Engagement Program and the proposed Online Course Questionnaires," they said. "His thoughtful contributions to discussions, in formal faculty meetings as well as informally in the hallways of the math department, have had a significant impact in our reaching consensus on the many aspects of our teaching mission for over three decades," they added.

Zumbrun noted that Livingston's commitment and enthusiasm have extended to making the department healthier (healthy snacks rather than cookies in the graduate and faculty lounge), happier (initiated a mathematical game library) and even greener (led a ceramic cup drive to reduce Styrofoam usage).

"A superb teacher and scholar who seamlessly integrates instruction with his craft, and takes interest in all aspects of teaching and exploration of his field, Chuck embodies the criteria of the Indiana MAA Distinguished Teaching Award," Zumbrun said.

For more information or to speak with Livingston, please contact Steve Chaplin, IU Communications, at 812-856-1896 or