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Candidate Q & A

Candidate: So what is Rose-Hulman like?

Rose-Hulman Mathematics: Rose-Hulman is a small, private, mathematics, science and engineering school. It has about 2,150 students with roughly 95 percent being undergraduates. About 80 percent of the students are in engineering. The remaining are in mathematics and science. The campus is located in a semi-rural area about a mile east of Terre Haute. The majority of students live on campus and so the campus is pretty well self-contained.

Candidate: What are the academic departments at Rose-Hulman?

Rose-Hulman Mathematics: 

There are six primarily engineering departments: Biology & Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Eng., Civil and Environmental Eng., Electrical & Computer Engineering, Engineering Management, and Mechanical Eng.; four primarily math/science departments: Chemistry, Computer Science & Software Engineering, Mathematics, and Physics & Optical Engineering; and the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS). As many departments have several degree programs, there are a total of 17 undergraduate and 9 graduate degree programs. The Humanities and Social Sciences department is large and varied, as all students take nine HSS courses. HSS has many minor programs and a degree program in Economics. The Mathematics, Chemistry, and Physics departments have dual roles -- providing a solid math and science foundation for all students and running their own programs. Thus, these departments are large for a school our size. In particular, Mathematics has over 25 faculty because each program requires at least two years of mathematics. The math department teaches roughly one of every seven courses at Rose.

Candidate: What are the students like at Rose-Hulman?

Rose-Hulman Mathematics: The students have excellent incoming credentials in comparison to most other schools, especially public schools. All courses are fast-paced and so there is a high workload. Students must be organized and have a good work ethic to survive. On the other hand, the Rose community is very close-knit and supportive to help students meet these expectations. Most students have a utilitarian view of mathematics, and so in the lower division courses application of mathematics is an excellent motivator for learning the concepts. We strive for a balance of application, problem-solving and foundational concepts.

Students at Rose-Hulman have much more advanced placement than at a typical school. Out of an incoming class of 500 freshmen we expect that about:

  • 240 would enroll in Calculus I,
  • 120 would enroll in Calculus II and get credit for Calculus I,
  • 80 would enroll in Calculus III and get credit for Calculus I and II, and
  • 60 would enroll in a differential equations course and get credit for Calculus I, II, and III.

A number of these students take additional math courses for a second major in mathematics, biomathematics, and/or computational science, or a minor in mathematics, biomathematics, statistics, or computational science.  We also provide many courses for the multidisciplinary minor in data science.

The relationship between students and faculty is informal and friendly.

Candidate: How many mathematics majors are there? What are their career aspirations?

Rose-Hulman Mathematics: There are about 30-40 primary mathematics majors spread over all four years and an additional 30-40 students taking mathematics as a second major. With the encouragement of our new president, we are trying to increase the number of students coming to Rose-Hulman to be a math or biomathematics major (or science major) over the next few years. We have recently required a senior project or thesis of all mathematics majors. We expect that requirement will increase the engagement of the mathematics faculty with our majors. Many non-majors are interested in mathematics and so we are blessed with strong enrollments in the upper division courses. Additional evidence of this interest in mathematics is the strong participation of our students in our faculty-student seminar both as speakers and audience.

Primary mathematics majors either go to graduate school or go immediately into business, industry, or government. Our program is designed to accommodate both choices.

Our biomathematics program, which began in 2015, currently has roughly 10 students but is growing quickly.  We expect biomathematics majors will either go to graduate school or procure jobs within the life science industry.

There is no graduate program in mathematics.

Teaching

Candidate: What are the teaching duties at Rose-Hulman?

Rose-Hulman Mathematics: Rose-Hulman has three academic quarters each year (10 weeks instruction, 1 week for exams). The expected course load at Rose-Hulman is three four-hour courses each quarter or 3-3-3. The typical schedule is to meet the students Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. In Mathematics that is complicated somewhat because Calculus meets 5 days a week, and so the three courses might be more than 12 hours. Therefore, to make the load equitable, it is our practice to assign some permutation of 2-3-3 to all faculty. In addition, the load can be further reduced by volunteering to teach a 1or 2 hour course as a part of the regular load. There are never more than two preparations unless one of the preparations is a one hour course. For new faculty, the number of distinct preparations per year is reduced for the first two years.

Candidate: Do you teach Precalculus? What about upper division classes and topics courses?

Rose-Hulman Mathematics: Calculus is our lowest course. About 2/3 of our sections taught each year are Calculus, DE, and Intro Stats. Therefore, it is typical to have two or three classes each year that are beyond Calculus, DE, and Intro Stats. Our catalog lists about 65 different courses. About 5-10 of these courses are taught on demand only, but the remaining courses are taught every year or every two years. We encourage, in fact, expect, our new faculty to teach special topics courses, develop new courses, or take on responsibility for teaching and improving our upper division courses. Typically this will be in collaboration with curriculum development groups. The senior faculty are very proactive in mentoring the teaching development of junior faculty.

Candidate: What are the class sizes? Are there graders?

Rose-Hulman Mathematics: The average class size for all math classes is under 20. We try very hard to keep the size of a typical Calculus, DE or Intro Stats class in the range of 20-30 and generally are quite successful. All the lower division classes and some of the upper division classes have graders for routine student work.

Candidate: Do you use technology in the classes?

Rose-Hulman Mathematics: Every student has an institute specified laptop computer loaded with a comprehensive suite of software packages, including Maple, Matlab, and Minitab. All mathematics classes are taught in special classrooms where the students can bring their laptops and plug them into power and network. In addition, there is a wireless network throughout the campus. Each faculty member has a similar laptop and software suite. There is a projection system at the front of the room that easily hooks up to the faculty member's laptop for demonstrations and lecture. The classrooms are specially outfitted to allow the student to easily collaborate with each other and allow the faculty member to circulate in the classroom. Faculty are encouraged to have a variety of activities in the classroom: lecture and board work, computer demonstrations, collaborative active learning activities, and student presentations. We use the Moodle leaning management system for Internet-based support of our classroom meetings.

Candidate: How independent am I in my course instruction?

Rose-Hulman Mathematics: The lower division multi-section course required of non-majors are taught by instructional teams. For these courses, there is a common (though minimal) syllabus, text book, and final exam. The course teams are expected to collaborate and discuss the progress of the course through formal meetings, hallway discussion, and email. Other than that faculty are pretty much free to run their course as they see fit. There is no attempt to coordinate homework, teaching styles, tests, the grading scheme, or even the grading of the final exam. In the upper division elective courses faculty can pretty much do what they want providing they show up for class and the course bears some resemblance to the catalog description. Despite this laissez-faire attitude, faculty are quite willing to discuss courses and share materials, and faculty deliver engaging and challenging courses.

Candidate: Is there teaching in the summer?

Rose-Hulman Mathematics: There is a very small summer school program and a large five-week program called Fast Track Calculus. Teaching in the summer is entirely voluntary, most faculty do not teach in the summer.

Scholarship and research

Candidate: What are the research expectations?

Rose-Hulman Mathematics: At Rose-Hulman, all faculty are expected to engage in some form of professional development that improves them as a faculty member. Professional development has many forms:

  • traditional research - including publication,
  • conference attendance (usually with a presentation),
  • working with undergraduates in research - thesis or summer,
  • text book writing,
  • consulting work, and
  • interdisciplinary work.

There must be a reasonable level of activity and some "externally validated work products". A balanced program of the various activities above is very appropriate but there should be some focus to the program that demonstrates the faculty member's continuing intellectual growth and improvement of professional competence. The choice of activities is the responsibility and the prerogative of the faculty member, with some guidance from the department head and other senior faculty. However, the choices should support the mission of the department and mathematical (or interdisciplinary) scholarship.

During the academic year, teaching duties occupy a major amount of the time and professional development often consists of conference attendance, and writing up and presenting work done during the summer. The summer has no required campus duties and that is typically when faculty focus on research and other professional development.

The department is very active, especially in support of undergraduate research. Departmental and Institute funds are often available for students to work on (interdisciplinary) summer research with a faculty member. We also require our majors to do a senior capstone experience, and many math majors choose to do a senior thesis.  Additionally, we have an online journal and an annual conference devoted to undergraduate research.

Candidate: What support is there for professional development?

Rose-Hulman Mathematics: We support travel to at least one major conference each year, especially for untenured faculty. The department average is roughly one big conference and one small conference each year. We have modest library resources but the library is very efficient with interlibrary loan. Our computing resources are quite good. For most faculty, the laptop computer and software suite meets all their needs though we have a Linux-based computer lab and cluster. The level of computer administration support is quite good.

Service and student advising

Candidate: What service and other activities must I do?

Rose-Hulman Mathematics: All faculty at Rose-Hulman are expected to do some service and advising activities both at the department and institute level. For untenured faculty, we try to keep these responsibilities at a low level so that they can concentrate on the development of teaching and scholarship. Most faculty take on some student advising responsibilities either for majors or perhaps being a faculty advisor for a student club. These tasks are not expected to take a lot of time. All faculty in the department are expected to fully participate in department meetings and development and management of the programs and curriculum. Again these activities should not take up a lot of time for new faculty.

Visiting Positions

Candidate: What is the difference between visiting and tenure-track positions?

Rose-Hulman Mathematics: Visiting positions in the department are typically sabbatical replacements or to temporarily fill tenure-track positions when vacancies occur suddenly, not leaving enough time to conduct a proper national search. By department policy, a visiting faculty member can serve at most two years as a visiting faculty member. During the first year, visiting faculty members are welcome to apply for a second year as a visiting faculty member, provided an opening exists. Visiting faculty are always welcome to apply for any available tenure track position. A number of the tenure track faculty have started as visitors at Rose-Hulman.

We expect that visiting faculty will achieve the same standards as our regular faculty, therefore they are supported and viewed as other new tenure-track faculty members, with the exceptions that service expectations are somewhat less and visiting faculty are excluded from hiring discussions.

Still interested? See the typical itinerary for a visiting candidate for the mathematics faculty.

Professor David Rader pointing to calculus problems on a whiteboard.

David Rader

Dr. Rader joined Rose-Hulman in 1997 and earned the rank of full professor in 2011. He often teaches upper-level courses in probability, statistics, and operations research, and has authored or co-authored several journal articles, conference presentations and the textbook, Deterministic Operations Research: Models and Methods in Linear Optimization (2010). He has also contributed to the success of the Rose-Hulman Undergraduate Mathematics Journal, where he has served as editor and assistant editor.