Johnny Brown Receives Murphy Award
Professor Johnny E. Brown was one of five Purdue faculty members to receive a "Purdue University Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award in Memory of Charles B. Murphy" at the University Honors Convocation on April 16. The $3,000 awards are given annually for exemplary teaching performance in all phases of undergraduate instruction on the West Lafayette Campus.
Brown has been highly successful in teaching the large lecture math courses which form a basic and important part of the curriculum for many science and engineering majors. He was among the first to incorporate cooperative learning techniques in large freshman calculus recitation classes, and today the approach he pioneered is used in three courses. Student evaluations reveal that Brown's students view him as caring and genuinely interested in whether they learn. Brown also teaches many of the courses designed for math majors, reflecting his deep interest and involvement in the undergraduate mathematics program. One measure of his dedication was his willingness to prepare to teach MA 370, "Mathematical Theory of Interest," an important component of the Actuarial Science program offered jointly by the Departments of Statistics and Mathematics. Only the second instructor to teach the course, Brown was willing to learn the material so that actuarial students will have the background they need to successfully pass their exams.
Since coming to Purdue as assistant professor in 1979, Brown has served as a formal and informal advisor to minority undergraduates in science and mathematics. His participation in the Minority Science Student Summer Program as a resource person for both students and counselors has made him widely known across campus. He has been a mentor for Purdue's "Horizons Program," designed for first generation college students. In an effort to reach students outside Purdue, he has given mathematical talks to math, science, and engineering students at Wabash, Morehouse, Spelman, and Florida A&M.
According to Regina Todd Hicks, Director of Minority Programs for the School of Science, Brown always brings an approachable manner when interacting with a wide range of students, from seventh graders to graduate students. "He is particularly engaging when students reciprocate and dialog with him, bringing their own challenging questions for his consideration. The smile on his face reveals, 'Ah-ha, I've made a connection.' His enthusiasm for teaching mathematics is evident in the pep in his step as he shows students the path to discovery and unlocks the door to understanding difficult concepts."
Brown's other Purdue awards include being named as the 1998 Outstanding Teacher of Undergraduates in the School of Science by junior and senior Science students. In February, he received the Harold T. Amrine Visionary Award, given annually by the Purdue chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers to a faculty or staff member who has made a positive impact on the minority engineering students at Purdue.