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SPC Math Department Newsletter

Monday, December 5, 2005  
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This newsletter is the thirty-sixth written report to the graduates of the

Department of Mathematics & Physics


Faculty/Department News and Professional Activities


The Department was saddened by the passing of Fr. Edward W. Brande, S.J. ’52 who died December 22, 2003.  The Professor Emeritus and former Vice-President for Academic Affairs had been an ordained minister for more than 40 years, and had been a member of the Society of Jesus for more than 50 years.  He leaves behind his brother Ralph’s family: wife Celeste, plus 6 married children, 15 grandchildren, 5 great-grandchildren, with at least one more expected at press time; that was truly a large extended family for Uncle Ed!  His family has established the Reverend Edward W. Brande, S.J. ’52 Memorial Endowed Scholarship in his memory.  If you are interested in contributing to this fund, please contact the College’s Development Office.


Fr. Brande was fortunate to have celebrated the golden jubilee of his entrance into the Society of Jesus in 2001, and those able to attend were blessed to be there to share in the festivities.  He also reached another milestone just prior to his death: the fortieth anniversary of his ordination back on June 22, 1963.


Professor Emeritus Frank Rush ’53 continues his recovery from a serious automobile accident in which the vehicle he was driving was hit by a tractor trailer.  After intermittent surgeries and spending five months in various hospitals, his daughter – Assistant Director of the College’s Center for Personal Development Colleen Szefinski ‘85 – reports that he has started to walk again.  Prof. Rush spent time recuperating at the homes of several of his offspring, and then finally returned home to Cranford, N.J.  Colleen also wants to thank, on behalf of her father and her extended family, all those who have said prayers and offered well wishes; these gestures were welcome and much appreciated.  Colleen’s four sisters also graduated from the College, including twins Kathleen Rush ’86 and Maureen (Rush) Haddad ’86.


The former newsletter editor, Professor B. Melvin Kiernan ’57, has a new title: Professor Emeritus.  Though he was somewhat circumspect in reporting his own accomplishments in his final issue prior to retirement, suffice to say this recognition was much deserved after 44 years of loyal service to Alma Mater.  His more recent contributions to the College Community included dedicated and extended service as Secretary to the Faculty Senate Committee, revising the faculty handbook single-handedly, and 35 years of compiling, creating, and disseminating this very periodical.


Professor Eileen Poiani, Vice-President for Student Affairs, was both surprised and humbled by a number of honors she received in 2003: an Alumnae Recognition Award from her undergraduate alma mater, Douglass College; the N.J. Woman of Achievement Award from the N.J. Federation of Women’s Clubs, presented at the Governor’s Mansion, Drumthwacket; a Humanitarian Award from the National Conference for Community and Justice (N.C.C.J.); and induction as an inaugural member of the Nutley (N.J.) Hall of Fame, where she has been a lifelong resident.  Among Prof. Poiani’s co-inductees into the Hall of Fame was Martha Stewart.   Prof. Poiani now serves on the Teaching & Learning Advisory Board for the Liberty Science Center, as well as on the Advisory Board for Mathematics for All, a project sponsored in part by the Bank Street College and funded by the National Science Foundation (N.S.F.).


Professor Larry Thomas made a presentation on TeK source materials at a N.J. Chapter Meeting of the Mathematical Association of America (M.A.A.).  This effort was an extension of the work he accomplished while participating in a conference on Practical TeK, which was held in San Francisco.  Additionally, he crafted a paper for publication entitled, “Mathematics and Computer Science: Perfect Together.”


Professor George Evanovich retired from the faculty after 17 years of service at the end of the 2003-2004 Academic Year.  The College has since awarded him the rank of Associate Professor Emeritus.  For the record, this was his third retirement: after service as a lieutenant in the Korean War, he retired from the military in 1954; and after teaching for 30 years at Sayreville High School, he retired from public school teaching.


Prof. Evanovich, who previously taught full-time both at Iona College and at Fairleigh Dickinson University, has been a long-standing Eucharistic Minister at Saint Peter’s Hospital on Sundays.  His wife, Margaret, and he are also the proud parents of five and grandparents of ten; son Ian and daughter Amy (Evanovich) Ricci both earned degrees in education from the College.  Though Prof. Evanovich has also taught part-time for the St. Vincent de Paul Society, he most recently has returned to the Jersey City Campus as an adjunct faculty member.


Professor Katherine Safford-Ramus continues to span the globe, attending International Congresses on Mathematics Education both in Denmark and Australia.  While in Australia, she was a guest speaker for the Australian Council on Adult Literacy.  Prof. Safford conducted in-service workshops on algebra for the Penna. Department of Education in 2003 and at the Adult Numeracy Network Meeting in 2004.  She contributed a number of papers to the proceedings of the two most recent Adults Learning Mathematics (A.L.M.) Meetings; she was elected as the organization’s chief executive at its annual general meeting.


Prof. Safford co-presented, with Prof. Brian Hopkins, a paper on the assessment of student learning at the Joint Mathematics Meeting in Phoenix in 2004.  She presented a session describing a research model for developmental educators at the N.J. Association for Developmental Educators.  Her completed manuscript, Facilitating the Learning of Mathematics for Adult Students, is pending publication.


Professor John Hammett was granted tenure and promoted to the rank of Associate Professor at the start of the 2004-2005 Academic Year.  He was elected to the office of Second Vice-President of the Association of Mathematics Teachers of New Jersey (A.M.T.N.J.), New Jersey’s affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (N.C.T.M.).


Prof. Hammett presented a workshop on creative writing techniques to teach mathematics for approximately 150 teachers at the New Jersey Education Association (N.J.E.A.) statewide convention in Atlantic City; he also spoke on mathematical poetry, journal writing techniques, and statistics education at regional meetings of the N.C.T.M. in Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, Charleston, S.C., Hartford, Conn., and Birmingham, Ala.  He was one of the invited speakers in a lecture series at the private boarding school, Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Conn.  He contributed a short story and an additional selection to the middle school and high school versions of the anthology, Searching for Solutions: A Guide for Empowering the Beginning Teacher of Mathematics.


Professor Brian Hopkins received the George Pólya Award for expository excellence from the M.A.A. for his co-authorship of the article, “The Truth about Königsberg,” which appeared in the May 2004 issue of The College Mathematics Journal.  He contributed papers on discrete mathematics and linear algebra at Joint Mathematical Meetings held in Phoenix and Atlanta, the N.J. Section of the 2005 M.A.A. Spring Meeting, and MathFest 2005 in Albuquerque.  Of particular note, Prof. Hopkins contributed a paper at the Joint Meeting of the New Zealand Institute of Mathematics and its Applications Conference in Combinatorics and the 29th Australasian Conference in Combinatoric Mathematics, held in Taupo, N.Z., in 2004.


Prof. Hopkins participated in an interdisciplinary initiative entitled, “Bio 2010: Integrative Approaches to Teaching Science,” a Summer Seminar at New York University’s Faculty Resource Network; he took a Chautauqua Short Course on the teaching of combinatorial games in Manhattan.  He was a working group leader for the Secondary School Teacher’s Program of the Advanced Study/Park City Mathematics Institute, and was a mini-course instructor on counting and number patterns for the Northwest Mathematics Interaction in Seattle.  Along with some public school teachers, he conducted an in-service workshop for the entire teaching staff of an inner city elementary school in Paterson, N.J.


Professor Michele Picarelli ’96 earned her Ph.D. in 2004 from the New Jersey Institute of Technology (N.J.I.T.); her dissertation study was entitled, Gibbs Sampling Approach to Maximum A Posteriori Time Delay and Amplitude Estimation.  She also served as the faculty representative at a workshop on learning communities sponsored by the Building Engagement and Attainment of Minority Students (B.E.A.M.S.) Project, held in Snowbird, Utah.


Professor Jose Lopez ’00 returned to Alma Mater, joining the faculty as a physicist.  He successfully defended his dissertation entitled, “Time-Resolve Studies of Pulsed Plasmas,” at the Stevens Institute of Technology in August 2005.  He presented three posters at the International Conference on Phenomenon in Electron and Atomic Collisions (I.C.P.E.A.C. 2005) in Rosario, Argentina.  He conducted research with undergraduate students from Bergen Community College at Brookhaven National Lab on Long Island, N.Y.; they worked on a three-dimensional visualization of plasmas.  Prof. Lopez also completed research at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio for presentations at future conferences.


Alumni News & Updates


James Erwinski ’62, Timothy Diffley ’66, and Richard Woodall ’69 have all retired from high school teaching.  James taught at Half Hollow Hills in Dix Hills, N.Y.; Tim taught in Hillside, N.J.; Rich was chairman at Dickinson High School in Jersey City, N.J.  Tim is an adjunct member of the faculty at Kean University, in Union, N.J., and Rich is an adjunct faculty member at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, N.J.  Both Tim and Rich previously taught as adjunct faculty members in the Department.


Tom Jordan ’63 was named to the College’s Board of Regents in May 2005.  He has also been named among the “Wall Street Top 50 Irish-Americans,” according to the magazine, Irish America.  He is founder, president, and CEO of the management consulting firm, Jordan & Jordan, which provides market data and project management, as well as software development, to the securities and banking industries.


Our ever-vigilant editor emeritus noticed that a departmental alumna, Cecilia L. Cunningham ’69, was cited in the Spring 2005 issue of the College Magazine.  Congratulations on your award, Cecilia: The Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education.  +  Ed Hogan ’76 has been honored as being among the best lawyers in America.  +  Jonna Buttacavoli ’03 is teaching at Toms River High School South in Toms River, N.J.  +  Serina Alfano ’04 attended a reunion of the Franciscan Mystery Players during the final performance of the 2005 Lenten season at St. Catherine of Siena in Mountain Lakes, N.J.


The guest speakers at the annual induction ceremonies for the College’s Pi Mu Epsilon Chapter were Patti (Mezzina) Hulsen ’87 who spoke about graphing calculator applications in April 2004 under the intriguing title, “After the smoke clears …, there is coffee,” and Katherine Herbert ’99 who spoke about evolutionary data analysis and data management issues in April 2005.  Patti is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Raritan Valley Community College, and Kathy is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Montclair State University.  Student presentations by graduating seniors were made by Adam Kolakowski ’04 and Serina Alfano ’04 on group theory and the Rubik’s Cube, and Jenny Buontempo ’05 on the twisted torus and knots.  All three offered encore presentations at MathFest the same year they presented on campus; MathFest is a national annual conference of student paper sessions jointly sponsored by the M.A.A. and Pi Mu Epsilon.


The noted author of Innumeracy, John Allen Paulos, spoke to an overflow crowd in the Pope Lecture Hall about how a mathematician might read the newspaper.  His speaking engagement was jointly sponsored by the Honors Program and our chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon, and was made possible through the generous support of the Drs. Bastek: Carol (Potyrala) Bastek ’70 (Ed.D.) in memory of her late husband, James Bastek ’67 (M.D.).


In Memorium

Fr. Edward W. Brande, S.J. ‘52

Donald F. Dempsey ’58

John Finn ‘56

John Simotas ‘75



Editorial Notes:

First and foremost, I know the readership joins me in expressing sincere thanks to B. Melvin Kiernan ’57, editor emeritus extraordinaire, for three and one-half decades of informative and regular newsletters.  Following in his esteemed footsteps has been a formidable and daunting challenge.  On an admittedly facetious and lighthearted note: to those who may have asked Mel, in Christmas cards or otherwise, about when the next issue is arriving, your patience with this extended transition has been greatly appreciated.  Here it is, at long last!


As the header suggests, this issue recapping Departmental news over the past couple of years, since the last issue prepared by our esteemed former editor, will be the last one published in this format: printed and sent by postal delivery.  Future editions will be available electronically.  Look for them through links on the College’s homepage.


Finally, please make sure the Saint Peter’s College Alumni Association has your current, correct e-mail address.  You can do so by registering online at their website; they’ll capture your e-mail address in that process.  Future electronic mailing lists will be generated from that college office’s records.  As an alternative, you can contact Frances Salvo ’05, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations, at her e-mail address,, or by telephone at 201-915-9204.  If you need further assistance, please contact the Department of Mathematics & Physics at 201-915-9319.  Thanks in advance for your cooperation as we modify and upgrade the process by which we share information with you, our faithful and patient alumni.

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