1780 – The Official Blog of Transylvania University

1780 | The Official Blog of Transylvania University

Transylvania professor awarded endowed chair in mathematics for excellence in teaching

man posing for a photo in a room

Transylvania University professor Mike LeVan has been awarded the inaugural Dr. Charles Haggard Endowed Chair of Mathematics for his exceptional teaching, service and interdisciplinary focus.

He is the first recipient of the three-year award, which begins this fall and is funded through a million dollar deferred gift by alumna Dona Swiger Cooper ’66. Her donation was inspired by the significant impact professor emeritus Haggard had on her career.

LeVan said he is “extremely honored, grateful and humbled” by the recognition. “This award encourages me to do my best to live up to the impactful legacy Dr. Haggard left on all of his students and the Transylvania family.”

Haggard taught at Transylvania from 1961-90, earning honors like Faculty Member of the Year and Faculty Adviser of the Year, along with the school’s Distinguished Service Award. Cooper noted that he helped her land her first job at IBM at a time when it was less common for a woman to pursue a career in mathematics. Both she and her former professor died last spring.

Back in 2005, the university magazine spotlighted the plans for her $1 million life insurance policy to fund the mathematics chair.

“While I have been at Transylvania for almost 30 years, I never had the chance to meet Dr. Haggard,” LeVan said. “However, since I have received the award, I have heard from several alums that told me what a wonderful professor and person he was.”

LeVan, who earned a Ph.D. and master’s from Auburn, has himself touched the lives of Pioneers over the years — both in and out of the classroom.

Rebecca Thomas, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the university, said, “I’m delighted that this chair, endowed in memory of Dr. Haggard’s contributions to Transylvania University and to his students, will first be held by Dr. LeVan.

“With his leadership of First Engagements and of international service opportunities in Guatemala, as well as his work in the mathematics classroom, Dr. LeVan has demonstrated amply why he was selected,” Thomas continued. “This chair is intended in part to attract and retain exceptional faculty in our mathematics program, which is of enormous benefit to Transylvania students now and in the future.”