Mathematics professor Deirdre L. Smeltzer, PhD, has been named vice president and undergraduate dean of Eastern Mennonite University (EMU), beginning July 1, 2013.
“Deirdre brings a wealth of experience as an outstanding teacher, scholar, and department chair,” said Provost Fred Kniss in an April 5 email announcing the appointment to the campus community. “She knows EMU well, having served on the faculty since 1998. She has the skills and dispositions necessary for leading the undergraduate programs into their next stage of growth and development.”
Since joining the EMU faculty, Smeltzer has held increasingly responsible positions, including chair of the mathematical sciences department, 2005-2012. During 2012-13, Smeltzer had dual roles as a faculty member and director of EMU’s extensive cross-cultural programs. Smeltzer has been a member of EMU’s strategic planning council, faculty senate and undergraduate council executive committee.
Prior to coming to EMU, she served for four years on the faculty of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. She has taught courses on more than two dozen topics in her field and is author or co-author of a number of peer-reviewed articles and a textbook.
“Deirdre is known by her colleagues for her excellent problem-solving and strategic-thinking skills, and for her commitment to high academic standards,” said Kniss. “I am eagerly looking forward to working with her in the years ahead as we move into an exciting period of growth and development for undergraduate programs at EMU.”
Smeltzer majored in mathematics and minored in Bible at EMU, graduating in 1987. She earned her MS and PhD in mathematics at the University of Virginia.
Recalling her undergraduate years at EMU, Smeltzer credits two professors, Millard Showalter in Calculus II and Del Snyder in Discrete Math, for nurturing her interest in higher-level mathematics. “Millard made class interesting, and I found myself doing his homework first,” she recalled in an interview with the EMU alumni magazine. “In Discrete Math, I discovered that I really loved the abstract, logical thinking required – much more than the hands-on labs of chemistry, which was another major that I was considering.”
As a scholar, Smeltzer has published articles on topics such as “Edge bounds in non-hamiltonian k-connected graphs” and “Exploring Loci in Geometry” (both with her EMU colleague Owen Byer, PhD) and has given presentations on “applications of circular and spherical inversions,” among other topics. She, Byer and a third mathematician, Felix Lazebnik, are authors of a textbook on Euclidean geometry, published by the Mathematical Association of America in 2010. A second book is in the works.
Fulfilling commitments made before her new appointment, Smeltzer will be co-leading an EMU cross-cultural to China in the fall of 2013. She did a sabbatical in China in 2006, where she taught and wrote.
Smeltzer and husband Sherwyn, a 1986 graduate in accounting, are the parents of Meg, a senior at EMU, and Claire, enrolled at Eastern Mennonite High School.