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Mathematician = Outstanding Professor

Scott Annin Honored With Top University Faculty Award
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For mathematics professor Scott Annin, his scholarship, excellence in teaching, student mentorship and service add up to one Cal State Fullerton top faculty honor: the 2015 Outstanding Professor Award.

President Mildred García made a surprise visit to his linear algebra and differential equations class Monday, where Annin was giving his students a test. Greeted by the president and colleagues, Annin slipped quietly out the door, where she announced that he is this year’s award recipient.

“You are the Outstanding Professor of the Year,” said García.

“Are you serious?” Annin asked.

“Heck yeah,” said Sean Walker, chair of the Academic Senate and professor of biological science.

García and others congratulated Annin on receiving the top faculty award. The Outstanding Professor Award acknowledges a faculty member who demonstrates a record of superlative teaching and scholarship and contributes to the stature of the University and the California State University system.

“Thank you for all you do,” García told him, then added, “You can brag about it when the test is over.”

While students and the campus community laud him for his passion for teaching, countless achievements and for being a model teacher and scholar, it is Annin who considers himself the fortunate one. “I recognize now more than ever how lucky I am to be engaged in this profession. When I think about this award, it’s not just about me. It’s about all the students, faculty and staff who’ve contributed to my success.”

Annin, who holds a doctorate from UC Berkeley, is most proud of his record of helping students achieve, with many of his former students earning advanced degrees and becoming high school and university math teachers.

“It has been my lifelong and ongoing dream to be an outstanding teacher-scholar,” he said. “I do what I can to help students succeed by using my own expertise, experience and talents. The thing that most people would tell you about me is that I still believe in educating people one concept at a time, one student at a time and one moment at a time.”

Stephen Goode, chair and professor of mathematics, called Annin one of the most talented and effective teachers in the history of the department. In his 13 years on campus, Annin has taught about 20 different mathematics courses, prepared students to present and compete at math conferences, served as Math Club adviser, coached students in mathematical competitions and, last fall, co-chaired the largest undergraduate research conference on campus.

“He has made unprecedented contributions to student success,” said Goode.

Alumnus and UC Riverside doctoral student John Simanyi ’12 (B.A. mathematics) acknowledges that his “success so far is, in part, due to Dr. Annin’s teaching talents. Ultimately, I know that I want to teach. When I teach now, I try to match Dr. Annin’s professionalism, enthusiasm and accessibility.”

Another one of his former students, Michael Martinez ’07 (B.A. mathematics), now an assistant professor of mathematics at Charleston Southern University, credits Annin with helping him achieve his full potential — and says he still influences him thousands of miles away from Fullerton.

“Remembering the interest he took in my education and the way that he joyfully taught all of his classes, motivates me to care more about the way I teach my students,” Martinez said.

Annin has authored numerous journal articles, including some with students, and is co-author, with Goode, of a top-selling, sophomore-level mathematics textbook. He has completed a second book to prepare students for the American Mathematics competitions.

He also is the recipient of numerous college and University awards, including the 2008 Carol Barnes Excellence in Teaching Award, the Mathematical Association of America’s 2009 Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching and 2012 Dean’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Student Success. This year, he was chosen as Distinguished Faculty Member for the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

His research efforts focus on pure mathematics, including noncommutative ring theory, as well as math education and student-centered projects, such as helping underrepresented students succeed in mathematics. Annin is co-directing a $600,000 National Science Foundation grant project to support disadvantaged students aspiring to earn a graduate degree in mathematics.

Fellow mathematician Martin V. Bonsangue, who received the award in 2011, praised his colleague: “Dr. Annin has not only made substantial contributions to the life of the educational community, Dr. Annin is a person whose life is the educational community.”

As part of the honor, Annin receives a $4,000 cash award from the President’s Office, is recognized at the May 15 Honors and Scholars Awards program and leads the platform party during this year’s commencement ceremonies May 16-17. In conjunction with the award, he will deliver a public lecture during the 2015-16 academic year.