University of Richmond Mathematics Professor Wins SCHEV's Outstanding Faculty Award
January 29, 2004
Della Dumbaugh Fenster, associate professor of mathematics at the University of Richmond, is among 11 winners of the 2004 Outstanding Faculty Awards presented by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).
The annual awards recognize excellence in teaching, research and service. All Virginia colleges and universities can nominate faculty members, and a committee of previous recipients, faculty, administrators, and business and community leaders chooses the winners.
Before joining Richmond in 1994, Fenster was a teaching assistant and research fellow at the University of Virginia, where she earned her Ph.D. She holds a master's in mathematics from Boston College and bachelor's degree from the University of Mississippi.
In a nomination letter, a former mathematics department chair described Fenster as having "the ability to turn complex, abstract mathematical ideas into an exciting, dynamic subject of interest to all of her students."
Fenster, former winner of the university's own Distinguished Faculty Award, teaches both math and Richmond's required freshman Core Course, which emphasizes the importance of reading, writing and discussion through study of works of many countries, cultures and periods.
A current Core student, writing in support of the nomination, said "When my classmates leave Core everyday, we're inspired, no matter how interested or disinterested we thought we'd be in the material. When it comes to Dr. Fenster, everything is worth learning."
Fenster specializes in the history of American mathematics, especially algebra and number theory of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She has won more than a dozen grants and research awards and published 18 refereed articles and book chapters in her field.
Outside the classroom, Fenster has served on selection committees for the university's Ethyl and Oldham scholarships, merit scholarship programs that attract top high school students to Richmond. She helped implement a faculty development course on teaching strategies and served on Westhampton College's dean's search committee. Fenster advises both undeclared and math majors, encouraging them to take a wide variety of liberal arts courses and to study abroad.
Each recipient received $4,000 and a commemorative plaque from SCHEV and co-sponsor TIAA-CREF, which manages a retirement system for people employed in positions of research and education. Nineteen Richmond professors have won an Outstanding Faculty Award from SCHEV since the program's inception in 1987.