When I first became chair, there
was a big debate whether math education should be part of
the Mathematics Department. Because of my background as a
member of departments where math education was part of the
department, that seemed logical to me.
We did absorb the math education group into our department.
I was a swing vote on that issue. It was clearly one of the
best moves we’ve ever made. They’re an extremely
productive group and, without question, one of the strengths
of our department. We now have one of the strongest math education
Another major change is the
calculus reform movement. Calculus hasn’t changed much
in the past 200 years, but the way it is taught has. The department
went through a mini-revolution incorporating the changes from
this national movement in the mathematics community. Stated
simply, the emphasis is more on concepts than calculations.
The use of technology is an important component of that, and
we’ve made use of powerful symbolic manipulation calculators.
We also have students complete one project in each course
and use the leading calculus book to come out of the reform
Another recent significant change is the growth and strength
of our undergraduate research efforts. Our students are doing
some amazing things. Still another major change over the last
30 years has been the increased diversification of our student
body. We’ve had some outstanding minority students over
We have two distinct graduate
programs. Both very healthy. One is applied mathematics, established
during my first year as chair, and one is a master’s
degree for teachers.
The teacher program is even healthier because we’ve
had so many of our students come back to earn a master’s
degree. They wind up teaching in the area, and now we get
a number of referrals. Although it has been relatively constant
over the years, the number of undergraduate majors is now
going up. We have more than 300 listed math majors, which
is a pretty good number.
||If half of our math majors go into teaching,
what careers are the others selecting?
The biggest career choice outside of teaching is industry.
Some go into what used to be called the aerospace industry,
while others go into the financial field.
Almost any big firm in the Los Angeles basin that uses technical
people probably has a couple of Cal State Fullerton math alumni:
JPL – Interstate Electronic does, naturally –
Raytheon, Boeing, McDonell Douglas and TRW.
We also have graduates that are doing well in the actuarial
profession. Another area is statistics – we have graduates
at the City of Hope and the Census Bureau. The statistics
people have opportunities at a lot of places.
There are jobs, but graduates
have to search them out. Probably the vast majority of our
students who go on for a doctorate go into academics –
but not all.
We produce a lot of high school teachers and also an amazing
number of community college instructors. At Fullerton College,
for example, between 12 and 14 of their math faculty members
are Cal State Fullerton grads.