Title: Retired Educator
Location: Lakewood, Ohio, United States
Richard A. Little, Retired Educator, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Educators for dedication, achievements, and leadership in mathematics education.
After 53 years teaching mathematics and computer science, Dick retired from Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio, in 2013, which he joined as an Associate Professor of Mathematics in 1975. He was promoted to Professor in 1980.
Dick’s teaching career began in 1960 following his graduation from Wittenburg University with a Bachelor of Science in mathematics, cum laude. He held the General Motors Scholarship for the class of 1960. He taught half-time at McDonogh School in Maryland while earning a Master of Arts in Teaching at Johns Hopkins University (July 1960-June 1961), with a Ford Foundation scholarship. In the fall of 1961 he accepted a position as a Mathematics Teacher and Junior Varsity Assistant Football Coach at Culver Academies in Indiana. In the fall of 1963 he was awarded an NSF Academic Year Institute Scholarship to study graduate mathematics at Harvard University (on leave from Culver), and by taking two graduate education courses, he also earned an Ed.M. at Harvard (March 1965). He returned to Culver for the 1964 -1965 academic year. He was appointed to Harvard University’s Nigerian Project in July of 1965. He was appointed as an Instructor for the Graduate School of Education at Harvard and was assigned as a founding member of the mathematics faculty at Comprehensive High School, Aiyetoro, Nigeria. This was the first comprehensive high school in equatorial Africa. From July 1965 to June 1967, he taught six classes daily of 7th and 8th grade mathematics while collaborating with two colleagues, one of whom was Nigerian and one of whom was an American mathematics teacher, as they wrote four volumes of mathematics for the middle grades. Those texts were published by USAID in Lagos, Nigeria, and were accepted by the Nigerian Ministry of Education for all of Nigeria in 1968. However, the onset of the Nigerian Civil War destroyed that opportunity. Following completion of his assignment to the Nigerian Project, the U.S. National Science Foundation sent him to India for nine weeks in the summer of 1967. The project there was to help India to develop its National Institutes of Technology. He and a fellow American were assigned to the Indian Institute of Technology at Kampur. He and his American colleague team-taught one course in the seven-week summer institute for Indian high school and junior college mathematics teachers, and they collaborated with Indian colleagues, who taught two additional classes for the 45 participants. Upon returning to the U.S. in August of 1967, Dick accepted a faculty appointment as an assistant professor of mathematics at the Stark Campus of Kent State University (Canton, Ohio). He taught there from September, 1967 to August, 1975. During that time he earned a Ph.D. in mathematics and education at the main campus of KSU in Kent. Under advisors Dr. James Heddens and Dr. Kenneth Cummins, it was completed in December of 1971. He served as vice chairman of the Stark campus faculty in 1969 and 1970. Then, he was elected to serve as the first faculty member from any branch campus (KSU had eight branch campuses then), to serve on the KSU University Faculty Senate from May 4, 1970 to June 30, 1973. He was elected vice chairman of the University Faculty Senate for the 1972-1973 school year, the first ever officer of the University Faculty Senate from a branch campus.
He was recruited by the mathematics department of Baldwin Wallace College in 1975 as associate professor of mathematics and faculty member of the Masters in Business Administration Program. He was promoted to professor of mathematics and computer science in September 1980, and served on the BW mathematics, computer science and MBA faculty until June, 2013, when he retired.
During his time at BW he served as chairman of the mathematics department from 1978 to 1983. He was a founding faculty member of the Freshman Experience course and of the Honors Program at BW. He was also a founding member of the computer science program as it grew from a minor in computer science in 1982 to a separate department in 1995.
Apart from his full-time commitments, Dick was a visiting professor of graduate mathematics at The Ohio State University in Columbus for 1987-1988, and a Mathematician Educator in Project Discovery from June, 1992 to June, 1995. Project Discovery was Ohio’s NSF State Systemic Initiative under the Ohio Board of Regents, with headquarters at OSU-Columbus. He and his wife, Laura, team-taught as visiting faculty at Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota for the fall semester of 1996. He also served as a visiting professor in the mathematics department of Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, from September, 2004 to August, 2005. Additionally, he served on the policy board of the Ohio Resource Center for Mathematics, Science and Reading from 1990 to 2013, and as the chairman of the Executive Committee from 2003 to 2004. This center operated under the auspices of the Ohio Board of Regents. From 1983-2000, Dick served the Ohio Department of Education’s selection committee for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching High School Mathematics.
A well-spoken lecturer in his field, Little has been a speaker at more than 100 meetings of professional mathematics groups across more than 30 U.S. states, three provinces in Canada, and in China and India. He has also contributed some articles in refereed journals in mathematics and teacher education. When his three children were in K-12 he often took one or more of them along to these meetings. They would attend his presentation, and then tour the exhibit area in search of freebies. Together they would explore nearby sights. The year Eric was a senior he joined Dick at an MAA meeting in San Antonio. They had lunch on the River Walk. Dick returned to the meeting, while Eric took a tour and tasting at the Lone Star Brewery. When Alice was a junior, she accompanied Dick to an NCTM meeting in New Orleans. They had breakfast at Brennan’s, and attended a jam session at Preservation Hall and some other music venues. When Stephanie was a first grader, she joined Dick at an NCTM meeting in Boston. They had a lunch at a very fine and very expensive restaurant with no other child in sight, much to her annoyance; that evening they ate at McDonald’s. The summer of 1976 Dick was invited to give three talks (A Geometric Triptych) at an NCTM meeting in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The whole family piled into the car to drive from home to the Trans-Canada Highway, to take the ferry to Newfoundland and a leisurely day’s drive to St. John’s for the meeting and three days of sightseeing. On the way home they stopped by the Bay of Fundy at low tide, and enjoyed a lobster dinner. There were two or three dozen similar ventures while the children were at home.
Giving back to his community, Dick spent two years (1973-1975) on the board of directors of the Canton Symphony Orchestra. He also served on the board of deacons of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Canton, Ohio, from 1968 to 1974 (chairman from 1971 to 1974). More recently he devoted his time as a Sunday school teacher at Bethany English Lutheran Church in Cleveland from 1991 to 2020 and, since 2016, has been a member of the church’s council.
Dick’s professional accomplishments have been supported through membership in several prominent organizations. He has been a life member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) and the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) for more than 50 years. For NCTM, he was a member of the Professional Development and Status Advisory Committee (1987-1990) and on the Program Committee for NCTM’s 75th annual meeting. He served in several roles with the Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics including president, (1974-1976), over 10 years on its Executive Committee in various roles, and served as general chairman of the 1975 NCTM regional meeting (held on the KSU Stark campus). This meeting had over 270 speakers from 25 states and Canada, and more than 2,200 participants over the three-day conference. During his presidency of OCTM, he led the efforts to expand what had been a regional high school mathematics competition to a state-wide contest. This contest continues to be offered on the last Saturday of February at over 20 sites across Ohio. Dick served as the director of this contest for 10 years (1983-1992), which meant chairing the committee that set the tests for the contest and the grading of the non-multiple-choice answers. That contest flourishes today, and usually has over 2,000 participants at 20-25 sites each year. The grading on the following Saturday involves 25-50 high school and college math teachers. Dick remains active with OCTM and spoke at its annual meeting in 2019. Dick also served as president of the Ohio Section of the MAA (1983-1984). As of 2020, only one other person has served as president of both the Ohio Section of MAA, and of OCTM. He also received the Ohio Section’s Award for Outstanding Teaching of College Mathematics in 2010.
The OCTM presented Dick with the Christofferson-Fawcett Award for Lifetime Achievement in Mathematics Education in 1990. Among other affiliations, Little is a member of the Greater Cleveland Council of Teachers of Mathematics, which honored him with a 2008 Outstanding Service Award and a Lifetime Contribution to Mathematics Education Award in 2018. The latter award he received alongside his wife, Laura Little, a retired teacher whom he married in June 1991. Laura retired from a 30-year career as a fifth-grade teacher in the Lakewood City Schools in 2013. During her career, she was awarded the Elementary Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching for Ohio in 1999. She also co-directed an annual mathematics contest for fifth and sixth graders at several sites around greater Cleveland.
Celebrated for his expertise and leadership at Baldwin Wallace University, Dick was honored with the Strosacker Excellence in Teaching Award and the Student Senate Faculty Excellence Award in 1999. A celebrated Marquis listee, he has been featured in nearly 50 editions of Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Education, Who’s Who in Science and Engineering, Who’s Who in the Midwest, and Who’s Who in the World.
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