Plenary Speaker Profile (2002-3)
Michael Starbird
University Distinguished Teaching Professor of Mathematics
University of Texas at Austin
The Other Lessons: What students keep for life

"Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten."-B.F. Skinner. The vast majority of our students soon forget the vast majority of the mathematical details they learn in class- (sometimes, in fact, before the final). But mathematical analysis has produced some of the greatest triumphs of human thought and creativity. Let's design our courses and curricula so that what survives in our students, after they forget, clearly improves their lives. Let's make the mathematics course the most important course students take to help them develop their ability to think.

Michael Starbird is the University Distinguished Teaching Professor in Mathematics at The University of Texas at Austin. In 1974, he received his Ph.D. degree in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and joined the faculty of the Department of Mathematics of The University of Texas at Austin. He has taken leaves from UT Austin to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, the University of California, San Diego, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. He served as Associate Dean in the College of Natural Sciences from 1989 to 1997.

Starbird is a member of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers at UT. His many teaching awards include the Minnie Stevens Piper Professorship, awarded annually to ten professors from any subject at any college or university in the state of Texas; the Jean Holloway Award for Teaching Excellence, the oldest teaching award at UT and awarded to one professor each year; the Chad Oliver Plan II Teaching Award; and the Friar Society Centennial Teaching Fellowship, awarded to one professor at UT annually.

In 2000, co-author Edward B. Burger and he published The Heart of Mathematics: An invitation to effective thinking which makes great ideas in mathematics accessible and fun for liberal arts students. The textbook won a 2001 Robert W. Hamilton Book Award.