Professor John Watkins

Years at the college: 1977 - 2010

B.S. Oberlin College 1968
M.A. University of Kansas 1974
Ph.D. University of Kansas 1980

John Watkins did his graduate work in commutative algebra. Soon after joining the department in 1977, he realized the advantages of introducing graph theory to undergraduate study and over the next few years, he retrained himself in graph theory leading to new courses. In 1993, John introduced a course titled Research in Mathematics. He presented the students with problems selected from discrete mathematics and then helped them develop their ideas. The result: several published papers .

Watkins continually worked to make mathematical connections with the outside world: · In 1981, he met Robin Wilson, a graph theorist from the Open University who has visited the college many times since and collaborated with Watkins on a graph theory text (Graphs: An Introductory Approach - 1990). · In 1985, Watkins became director of the TRIBES program for Native American high school students. · In 1991, he turned his organizational talents to a summer mathematics and science program he developed for high school students from the San Luis Valley. This program continued each summer through the 1990's.

· In 1992, he was the program organizer for the regional MAA meeting which was held at Colorado College.

· In 1998, he was director of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest Zimbabwe program. Watkins returned to Africa after working there as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1968-1970.

Watkins' organizational skills and appreciation for the arts made him a prime candidate to head the college's summer program; in 1999, he became Dean of the Summer Session. His connection with the mathematics department was by no means severed and after three years at the helm of the summer session, he returned to the department in the fall of 2001. He re-kindled his writing projects producing two books ( one on mathematical chessboard problems and one on commutative ring theory) before retiring in 2010. Yet even then, his interest in math history resulted in a number theory text (2014) and a combinatorics text which he edited with Robin Wilson (2015). He continues to teach graph theory and number theory from time to time.


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