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Middlebury College names Frank Swenton recipient of the Perkins Award for Excellence in Teaching

March 23, 2004

Frank SwentonMIDDLEBURY, Vt.-Middlebury College has named Assistant Professor of Mathematics Frank Swenton the recipient of the 2004 Perkins Award for Excellence in Teaching.  The award honors outstanding teaching performance in science and mathematics.  At 4:30 p.m. on Monday, March 29, an award ceremony will be held in Room 104 of Bicentennial Hall on Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125). 

The annual award is given to a member of Middlebury College's natural sciences division, alternating each year between a faculty member in the mathematics department and a faculty member in one of the other five departments in this division-biology, chemistry, geology, physics and computer science.  The award includes recognition on two plaques, which are located in Warner Hall and Bicentennial Hall, and a grant for the support of further professional development.  The Perkins Award is singular in its recognition of teaching excellence at Middlebury.

Swenton earned a bachelor's degree in math at Ohio State University in 1994, and a doctorate in the same subject at Princeton University in 1999.  A member of the Middlebury College faculty since 2000, Swenton has taught various calculus courses, several upper-level mathematics classes such as "Visible Mathematics," and an upper-level computer science course.  Prior to his arrival at Middlebury, he taught a number of first-year math courses at Princeton.

His current research focuses on algorithms and theorems involving knots, manifolds and other related objects. 

Swenton is the recipient of the 1998 and 1999 Princeton University Engineering Council Distinguished Teaching Awards, as well as the 2000 Forbes College Service Award.  He was a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow from 1994-1997.

The Professor Llewellyn R. Perkins and Dr. Ruth M.H. Perkins Memorial Faculty Research Fund, which provides the award, was made possible by the gift of Dr. Ruth M.H. Perkins, a 1932 Middlebury graduate, in memory of her husband, Professor Llewellyn R. Perkins.  Professor Perkins taught at Middlebury College from 1914 until his retirement in 1941.  During the course of his tenure at Middlebury, he founded and chaired the mathematics department.  Their children, Marion Perkins Harris, a 1957 Middlebury graduate and science teacher, and Dr. David L. Perkins, a physician, augmented the fund and expanded the scope of the award to honor their mother, Ruth, as well.  She was a Vermont State helping teacher and a professor of math education at Temple University in Philadelphia. 

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