BHSU math education professor receives Distinguished Faculty Award

Left to right, Dr. John Alsup, professor math education at Black Hills State University, receives a surprise classroom visit from Dr. Chris Crawford, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., BHSU President, who share the news that Alsup will receive the Distinguished Faculty Award. The Award is the highest faculty honor in the University and encourages and rewards outstanding professional dedication.

Dr. John Alsup, professor of math education at Black Hills State University, received the Distinguished Faculty Award this week, the highest honor the University bestows on a member of the faculty.

It was a typical day of teaching in the classroom for Dr. Alsup when he received a surprise visit from University leadership. Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., BHSU President, Dr. Chris Crawford, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Dr. Sharman Adams, Dean of the College of Education & Behavioral Sciences, surprised Dr. Alsup and his students with the announcement.

"We are proud to acknowledge Dr. John Alsup as the Distinguished Professor for 2017-2018," said Crawford. "John is a fabulous teacher and a great colleague. He represents the best that is Black Hills State University."

As soon as word of Alsup's award hit social media, a chorus of praise for his teaching erupted. Current and former students commented on the BHSU Facebook page that Alsup was "one of the best math teachers I ever had," "three semesters later and we still talk about how amazing he is," and that "taking Dr. Alsup's class is the reason I feel adequate when teaching elementary math concepts."

Teaching at BHSU for two decades, Alsup joined the faculty in 1997 and teaches math and math pedagogy. His specialty field is math education with program assignments in elementary and special education.

Dr. Kathleen Matthews, Department Chair of Education at BHSU, said Alsup is a compassionate, patient teacher of mathematics.

"Students absolutely love him. Math is tough for many students and he makes it into something they can enjoy. He mentors his students and he'll help them anytime, working with them until they understand the concept," said Matthews.

Alsup's teaching career spans more than 40 years having also taught middle and high school math in Wyoming and North Carolina. He earned his Ph.D. and M.S. from the University of Wyoming and his B.A. at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

In addition to a passion for math education, Alsup has also shared his interest in international relations with the University community. He has chaired the University's Multicultural Committee and recently presented a Geek Speak Lecture on world hunger. An avid traveler, Alsup visited six continents in five years after being inspired while teaching math in rural Tanzania.

Alsup says one of the recent highlights of his career was chairing a session at the Russian Academy of Sciences Conference in 2014. At the conference he led a discussion amongst the Chair of Conflict Resolution for the United Nations, government officials, and professors from around the world. When Alsup returned from Russia he held a public lecture at BHSU to share insights from the experience.

Receiving this year's Distinguished Faculty Award is especially meaningful, says Alsup, because it is bestowed by fellow faculty members and the BHSU administration.

"I am deeply honored," said Alsup. "At BHSU I'm surrounded by wonderful and supportive colleagues, students with a very solid work ethic and a good attitude who are pleasant to be around. BHSU is a wonderful place to teach."

The BHSU Distinguished Faculty Award encourages and rewards outstanding professional dedication by faculty members. Awardees show continued excellence in teaching, active research, scholarship and other creative endeavors, and ongoing contributions to the community and society while providing exceptional service to students. The Distinguished Faculty member is acknowledged at May commencement and receives a $1,000 stipend, half of which is to be used for professional development.