From July 6-8, 2011, Mike Veatch, professor of mathematics, will travel to the 16th INFORMS Applied Probability Society Conference which will take place at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), in Stockholm, Sweden.
The conference focuses on applications of probability to stochastic systems arising in operations research, computer networks, biology and finance.
The title of Mike’s paper and talk is “Approximate Linear Programming for Average Cost Markov Decision Processes.” Here’s what he says about it: “My talk has applications to scheduling manufacturing systems and telephone call centers. In principle, these complex systems can be optimized to minimize congestion, but the control problem is intractable, so we study approximations.”
On Saturday, May 21, at Gordon’s 119th Commencement ceremony, provost Mark Sargent recognized professor of economics and business Ted Wood and associate professor of linguistics and classics Graeme Bird as this year’s recipients of the Distinguished Faculty Awards. The Distinguished Faculty Awards are given annually to one senior and one junior full-time faculty member in recognition of excellence in teaching, substantial scholarly and professional achievement, and notable service to the Gordon community. Upon being nominated by the faculty and members of the graduating class, the final recipients of the award are chosen by a committee comprised of Distinguished Faculty Award winners from the previous three years and the provost.
To view the provost’s remarks for each recipient, use the following links for Senior Distinguished Faculty award winner Ted Wood and Junior Distinguished Faculty Award winner Graeme Bird.
Sharon Ketcham, assistant professor of Christian ministries, was honored as the fourth recipient of the Marv Wilson Award for Teaching Excellence in the Humanities. Established in 2006 through a generous donation from alum Betsy Gage Pea ’79, the Marv Wilson Award recognizes annually one faculty member from the Humanities Division or the Department of History “whose teaching exemplifies excellence in the classroom, a deep commitment to inspiring students to realize the ideals of careful scholarship in their own work, and the integration of the Christian faith and learning in the Humanities.”
Ketcham, who is completing her seventh year of service at the College, received the award in front of her peers at a May 4th faculty meeting. In presenting the award, department chair Roger Green drew attention to Sharon’s work in developing the College’s new Core course in Christian Theology: “You have worked closely with your colleagues in the course, inspiring them in their contributions, and have provided an invaluable experience for the students taking this course as the pilot course for what is to come in the future. You have constantly encouraged students in the course to understand their own theological assumptions against Scriptural standards and the traditional teachings of the Church.”
As Provost at Gordon, Dr. Mark Sargent often has the opportunity to travel for various purposes and responsibilities he has in his role as a leader in higher education. On a recent accreditation team visit, he went to Greece. This essay is his response to visiting that land:
In early spring the scarlet poppies of Greece fill the cracks of the marble ruins. They crop up alongside the dust of tourist paths, and mix with the thistles in the open grasslands, not so much in clusters but in scattered blossoms, like drops of blood sprinkled over the fields.
When I visited Ancient Corinth some ten days ago there were a few poppies growing between the rust-colored stones of the Bema, or the public rostrum, where the Apostle Paul appeared in 51 A.D. before a Roman tribunal, accused of “persuading people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.” The proconsul—brother of the philosopher Seneca—dismissed the charge even before the defendant had an occasion to speak. This was, after all, an intramural quarrel, weighty perhaps for the poor Jewish community but irrelevant to the edicts of Rome . . . Read More.
April is National Poetry Month and many faculty members have participated in Gordon’s third annual poetry podcast project. Listen to a poem a day at All Things Poetry: the rhymes and rhythms of Gordon College. There’s quite a variety of poems and voices to hear, all as inspiring as the diverse disciplines on campus!
Congratulations to Steven Hunt, associate professor of biblical studies, for the release of his new book: Rewriting the Feeding of Five Thousand: John 6.1-15 as a Test Case for Johannine Dependence on the Synoptic Gospels in Studies in Biblical Literature, vol. 125, ed. by Hemchand Gossai (New York: Peter Lang, 2011).
From the publisher: “Rewriting the Feeding of Five Thousand reveals the connection between John and the Synoptics with a focus on John 6.1-15. Statistical analyses establish the percentages of verbal and word order agreement between John 6.1-15 and the Synoptic parallels. An analysis of contextual agreements between the narratives in John and the Synoptics facilitates observing the percentage of agreement between them on a verse-by-verse basis, the average percentage of agreement between them, and the average percentage of agreement between them when Johannine material without parallel in the Synoptics is excluded from the data. Furthermore, this book analyzes the Matthean and Lukan redaction of Mark in their versions of the feeding of the five thousand and their influence on the Johannine narrative, as well as how John’s narrative can be understood as a thorough rewriting of the Synoptic accounts.”
From April 11-17, professor of theatre arts Jeffrey S. Miller will be in the Twin Cities area for a production workshop on a new musical entitled Kingdom Undone. Still in development, Kingdom Undone represents the largest venture to date for the Theater for the Thirsty, a small theater company based out of Minnesota. Working with theater colleagues and a few of his former students on a staged reading of the musical, Jeff will help to put the final touches on the production before a demo recording scheduled for May of this year. In an announcement on their website in December, the play’s creators described the musical as follows:
“This project is bigger than anything we’ve done in the past. We’ve written a rough draft, had a few informal readings and are currently underway with writing the music. We aim to create a show with the theatricality, humor and contemporary feel of Godspell, along with the drama, depth and passion of Les Mis– and it all centers on the story of the passion week of Jesus.”
Who knew college basketball could inspire the beauty of a mathematics challenge? Dick Stout, professor of math, that’s who. Read his recent Faith + Ideas= column:
“It’s time for March Madness, that round of college basketball games that never seems to end, but (thankfully) signals the end of winter and the coming of spring. For faithful fans—like me—it can also be an emotional roller coaster where our team plays an inspired game one night, but loses the next on a last-second basket. And the drama is heightened by the fact that if a team loses, it goes home. No second chances. A season has ended.
But even amidst all the emotion of the sport and the drama of the competition, something else emerges: an interesting mathematical problem. At the heart of the tournament is a basic question upon which the madness depends: How many games must be played to determine a winner?”
Read his entire column here:
In his first year at Gordon, Moises Park, assistant professor of Spanish, doesn’t just talk the talk in his classes—he watches the movies and reads the novels as part of his scholarship. And he’s been exceptionally busy lately. Recently, he presented a paper on the Chilean film, “Tony Manero,” at the SCOLAS 2011 Conference held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, March 10-12. Some of the topics he addressed in his paper were contemporary Chilean cinema, trauma, Chilean Dictatorship, biopolitics, media, globalization, sanity, the 70s, and the disco era.
That’s not all. Next month he’ll be heading west to talk about another part of his work—connecting fiction to art. Here’s what he said about that trip:
“At the Third Conference on Orientalisms and the Arab and Asian Diasporas (held April 22-23 at the University of California, Merced), I’ll be presenting a paper on the Colombian novel Mambrú about the Colombian Batallion that fought in the Korean War. I will be analyzing a fragment from the novel and comparing it to Pablo Picasso’s 1951 painting, Massacre in Korea. Some of the topics that are related to this paper deal with Orientalism, Freudian conceptualization of guns as phallic objects, desexualization of the Other, biopolitics, (Marilyn) Monroe Doctrine, Cold War, and the Colombian experience in the Korean war. It should be an interesting time!”
Irv Levy, professor of chemistry and computer science, had an article accepted this month for publication in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Irv co-authored the article–entitled “Seed oil and fatty acid content in okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) and related species”–with Bob Jarret and Ming Wang, both from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit. From seed to fruit, the project revolved around a number of collaborations with students and colleagues. Irv offered an interesting account of the development of this research project:
“This collaboration has an interesting history. It was during a spring break trip to ECHO five or six years ago that Grace Ju suggested that I ought to look at okra seed as a potential underutilized seed oil. After her prompting, I brought a project to [students] Jenn Soerensen and Rebecca (Havens) Sanford to investigate biodiesel made from okra seed oil. The work that they did with me and [associate professor of chemistry] Dwight Tshudy became a poster presentation at the ACS national meeting in New Orleans a few years ago. Bob Jarret from USDA was starting a project on okra seed oil and he found me through the citation of the poster at the ACS meeting. Since that time I’ve done a number of oil extractions for Bob, nothing fancy to be honest, but it has been enjoyable to work with him and his team. I spent quite a bit of time during February responding to reviewer’s critiques so that the paper could get into its final acceptable form. The long and winding road!”