CANTON -- St. Lawrence University Assistant Professor of Mathematics Sam Vandervelde has won a 2011 Henry L. Alder Award, for distinguished teaching by a beginning college or university mathematics faculty member. The national award is given by the Mathematical Association of America.
A faculty member at St. Lawrence since 2007, Vandervelde was cited as an imaginative and creative teacher whose impact on colleagues and students goes far beyond the university. His students praise him for his passion for mathematics; his use of puzzles and problems to encourage deeper thinking; and his ability to engage his students in research. Students in his number-theory class published a collection of their papers in a class-designed journal, and students in his recent senior seminar all presented papers at conferences. Vandervelde's colleagues note the dramatic impact he has had on the mathematics program.
Vandervelde initiated a "friendly rivalry" in mathematics for students from St. Lawrence and three other New York colleges, and is the author and coordinator of the Mandelbrot Competition, a math contest taken by over 4,500 high school students from across the country annually. He also is an enthusiast of math circles, an extracurricular activity bringing students interested in mathematics together with professional mathematicians who are able to engage them in mathematical investigations. Vandervelde founded the Stanford Math Circle in 2005, and currently holds a math circle at A.A. Kingston Middle School in Potsdam.