May 14, 2015 7:45AM
This fall, Cynthia Huffman will begin her 21st year of teaching mathematics at Pittsburg State University. She said she loves her job today just as much, if not more, than ever before.
“As a student at Pitt State, I was influenced by wonderful professors who instilled a love of learning within me,” Huffman said. “Now I am blessed to work with great colleagues as we try to continue that legacy. So many of our students are going on to make a difference in the world and that makes me very proud.”
Huffman’s passion for teaching is one of the reasons she recently received the Kansas Section of the Mathematical Association of America Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics. The award recognizes university or college mathematics teachers “who have been widely recognized as extraordinarily successful.”
At PSU, Huffman has taught everything from The History of Algebra and Mathematics for Education to Algebraic Number Theory and Multivariate Polynomial Theory. In 2010 and 2014, she was selected by students for the Robert K. Ratzlaff Outstanding Faculty Award. She was named a University Professor in 2013.
Huffman said one of her goals in every class she teaches is to open students’ minds to the broader world around them.
“I believe it is important to expose college students to new ideas and concepts in order to help them become better problem solvers and better equipped to succeed at their careers,” Huffman said. “As our world becomes more technologically advanced, it is vital that members of society have a solid background in mathematics as well as good problem solving and critical thinking skills.”
Huffman grew up around the Pitt State campus and earned two degrees from PSU before earning her Ph.D. from New Mexico State University. She credits her parents for much of her inspiration to teach.
“My mom was an elementary school teacher and my father (Wilmer Huffman) was an accounting professor at Pitt State,” Huffman said. “I come from a family of teachers so it’s sort of the family business.”