Zwick wins national award

Distinguished educator/service recipient
Posted Thursday, December 5, 2013 - 5:03pm

USU Eastern’s Henry Zwick is the recipient of the Dr. William T. Guy Jr., Distinguished Educator and Service Award.


Guy was a mathematics professor at the University of Austin in Texas for 60 years. Chronicling his enduring career, he was the recipient of almost every teaching award at U of T. It is with this legacy that the American Society for Engineering Education created this award to bestow upon outstanding math educators in higher education with Zwick receiving the award from the math division in the American Society for Engineering Education.


Zwick has more than 30 years of teaching math, computer science and engineering in his background. He usually teaches five classes each semester, but occasionally offers six or seven.


He knew in elementary school that he wanted to be a teacher. He first thought he would teach chemistry, then changed to math, back to chemistry, then to physics and finally settled on math.


Growing up in Chicago, Ill., Zwick completed his undergraduate studies at Northeastern Illinois University before heading west to a dryer climate for graduate school in math at the University of Idaho in Moscow. “He says he hates humidity.” After graduation, his first job was at Utah State University in Logan where he was hired as a math lecturer. After three years, he left to teach two years at Northland Pioneer College in Show Low, Ari.


Graduate school beckoned and Zwick headed for University of Idaho in Moscow where he earned a master’s degree in computer science. He thought this major would make him more marketable. His next stops were teaching at Washington State and Ferris State.


In 1990, he was hired in the College of Eastern Utah math and computer science departments where he has served under five presidents.


Change in the last 24 years at USU Eastern, Zwick smiled, has left the college a mere shell of what it was. The electronics program was dropped as well as the languages (Italian, French, Russian and German), only Spanish remains. Building construction is gone as well as anthropology, museum studies, archeology, computer networking, printmaking, ceramics, graphics with mining about to lose its funding. Some business classes have been cut.


On the positive side, Zwick has had the best students he has ever taught. “I just got a call from a former student who lives in Washington and works for Bill Gates at Microsoft and loves his job.” Many of his students have gone on to earn master’s degrees and doctorates in math, CS and engineering.


After 30 years of teaching, Zwick says he still loves to learn. “I enjoy most of my students and look forward to fall semester starting each year. I enjoy all the classes I teach and do the best job I can do.”


If he had a weakness in teaching, he thinks it would be teaching remedial courses. The other USU Eastern faculty are better at teaching those classes, he said.


Math has always been easy for Zwick, although he still had to work hard. If a student has had one bad math teacher, they are usually doomed for life, he says. If students had good teachers in the K-12 system, they will do well in college.


He had one math class in college he never wants to repeat. It was called “topology,” which is abstract math spaces and it was so abstract and non tangible, he hated it.


Zwick enjoys traveling and has been in all 50 states, with most states traveled to at least twice. He prides himself on attending many conferences each year. “I went to eight conferences in the summers of 2012 and 2013.” His bucket list for travel includes visiting the Florida Keys, Big Bend National Park in Texas, Outer Banks of North Carolina, and Death Valley in California and Nevada.


Besides traveling, he prides himself in being a television buff with one of his favorite shows being “Numbers,” a crime show that uses math to solve the crime. He also likes to watch older programs from the ‘60s through ‘90s.


When discussing his future, Zwick was quick to point out that his first job was at USU and his last job will be at USU. I love Price, Utah, and plan to stay here. “You won’t find many Chicago natives that will say that, but I truly love this area.”

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