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Richard Rockwell Named Professor Emeritus

Giovanni Hashimoto, March 19, 2012
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At Colloquy on March 15, Pacific Union College paid tribute to Richard Rockwell, this year's new professor emeritus. Rockwell, professor of mathematics, is retiring at the end of the academic year after teaching at PUC for more than four decades.

Rockwell began his career in the classroom while attending PUC; during his sophomore year in college, he taught a yearlong computer science course. After graduating from PUC in 1967 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, Rockwell went on to the University of California, Berkeley, where he received his master’s degree in 1969. Immediately after, PUC hired Rockwell to teach in the math department; a few years later, while teaching, he earned his doctorate from U.C. Berkeley. In the 1970s and 1980s, Rockwell was the chair of the math department for over a decade.

At the Thursday morning colloquy program, Steve Waters, also a professor of mathematics, shared his memories of studying under Rockwell in the 1970s. “I first got to know him personally my sophomore year at PUC, and he became my advisor and mentor,” said Waters. “Whether he knows it or not, he’s never stopped being my advisor and mentor.”

Waters followed in Rockwell’s footsteps, graduating from PUC with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and continuing to graduate school to complete his doctorate. He’s been teaching alongside Rockwell for 30 years. “I now know him not only as a great teacher but as an outstanding colleague. In all those years that we’ve been in the math department together, my respect for him has only increased."

Today’s students continue to appreciate Rockwell's style of teaching and mentorship. “Even before I took a class from him, he knew me by name,” says Christian Guillén, a sophomore biophysics and pre-med student. “You can’t help but love him and his class. It’s almost like you go to class just so you can be around Dr. Rockwell.”

“My favorite thing about him is his intelligence,” adds Christian, “The guy’s a genius, and it shows every day. To him, all his subjects are really rudimentary while to us they seem so complicated... We can ask questions, and the thing is, he doesn’t get upset. He just finds another way of explaining it. He knows his stuff but he doesn’t flaunt it. Its great.”

Since 1946, PUC has bestowed a total of 81 professor emeritus titles, including Rockwell. Professors emeritus have given at least 15 years of service to PUC.