“My goal is for students to walk out of my class understanding that mathematics is a field that they can and will use every single day.”
In every class he teaches, associate math professor Mike LeVan emphasizes the practical application of mathematical theory. "Whether you're watching a TV program, reading the newspaper, or having a debate with friends, math is a useful tool that can help you understand many different topics," he says.
LeVan finds Transylvania's liberal arts curriculum vital in making those connections. "All of our students get experience in art, literature, history, economics, and many other disciplines," he points out. "This allows them to see the link between mathematics and the world we live in."
The personal attention that students receive in small classes also enriches Transylvania's academic environment, according to LeVan. "I challenge anyone to walk by the math professors' offices during the day and see how many math majors and other students are hanging out together, talking about math and anything else that comes to mind."
Those students often suggest special topics classes that they'd like to have LeVan teach or ask him to help them pursue independent studies. "They push the faculty to offer more classes in different areas," he says. "That requires me to stretch my bounds, which makes me a better teacher and a better mathematician."
In addition to mentoring Transylvania students, LeVan is committed to helping middle and high school students prepare for the rigors of college. He and computer science professor Kenny Moorman coordinate Transylvania summer camps on academics, computer programming, and robotics.