By Cailean McLeod
Retired Math Department faculty member Doug Mooers received the Lifetime Achievement Award last month.
Mooers, who served Whatcom Community College for nearly 30 years and retired in 2015, had contributed greatly to warrant the award from the Washington Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges.
“I was humbled, I mean, there are so many dedicated teachers, hard-working teachers who deserve this, I was just honored that I was nominated and selected,” Mooers said.
“I had great joy when I heard he received the award, I could not think of anyone who deserved it more, he gave pretty much all of his professional life to Whatcom and to the state of Washington; to see him be recognized by people across the stat for his contributions seems so befitting,” said Leah Thompson, developmental education faculty member at Whatcom.
“He had a tremendous impact; when I first came here, there were math labs, but there were not any teachers teaching though, so he fought to get teachers into the classroom,” said math faculty member Jeanette Stephens.
“I think it was the supportive students and the hard work of faculty, and really I loved what I was doing; I think those three things I owe to,” said Mooers.
During his time at Whatcom, Mooers helped create the math department, the math lab, and coordinated all efforts to reform how Whatcom taught mathematics during the 1980’s.
‘This job was a challenge in that we needed to meet the needs of traditional and nontraditional students; over a period of 15 years I worked hard to get the full time math faculty who wanted to help students create classes, infuse the use of technology into teaching, and I also made sure students were properly placed to maximize their success in math,” Mooers said.
“He was very organized, he was very helpful in several ways, the first one was he helped us use the calculator and that was because some of us did not grow up with the calculator. He recently showed me how to take images from the calculator and put them on paper, he also helped in terms of committee work and other matter dealing with being a full-time faculty member and what our responsibilities were,” said Stephens.
“When I first came here, all math classes were held in one room, and students studies by themselves; they would come in and get help from me and three other people, and then the students could take the test whenever they felt they were ready; this room became known as the ‘math center’, but three people and lots of students is not very good for learning,” Mooers said, ”so over several years and many grants and creative financing we were able to get student tutors hired to work in the lab; so now we have students who are able to help in the lab. After a few more years we created a lab coordinator position which helped train the tutors and this eventually evolved into the math lab you know today in Cascade.”
“There was always a budget problem, and he was able to keep fighting until he could convince people to hire,” said Stephens, “there were six of us, and there would have only been 3 of us if it haven’t been for Mooers.”
“The state had been reducing funding of colleges for years, so that is why colleges need to be more entrepreneurial in their approach,” said Thompson.
“Doug and I were colleagues from the start, he wanted to help people not only just to fit in, but to understand the history of Whatcom and its core culture of commitment and student success,” said Thompson.
“I was awarded the Puget Power Full-Time Faculty Excellence award in 1993, got the Pacific Northwest Mathematics Association of America Outstanding Teaching Award and was also sent to a Great Teachers Seminar on behalf of Whatcom, where they bring in faculty members from each community college in the state of Washington and Oregon to spend the week sharing ideas at a conference center in Portland, was nominated for the Golden Apple Award from KCTS, and award for outstanding faculty in Washington state,” said Mooers.
On their official website, Washington Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges credits it’s logo to none other than Mooers himself.
“The Washington Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges was created in the early 80’s by community college math teachers. In the early years of its existence it needed a logo that represented all locations of the state of Washington, and they held a design contest which I won,” said Mooers, “So then I joined the association, became active in it and was elected president in it and accepted, served two years. One of the biggest accomplishments was to set in motion discussions that eventually led to defining college-level mathematics and the prerequisite for intermediate algebra.”
WAMATYC is a non-profit and affiliate of the American Mathematical Association whose goals are the discussion and implementation of mathematical curriculum in community colleges across Washington state.
Before his time at Whatcom, Mooers both explored his interests and contributed to other institutions in America.
“I originally was in the United States Coast Guard, then I went back and got some degrees and then started working in the investment industry, but decided I did not like that, so I started teaching at Santa Barbra, California and I loved helping students not only to learn but you discover things about themselves,” Mooers said, “I taught high school for five years in Santa Barbra and one year in Iowa, but I wanted to start working with young adults and community college students. A job opened up at Whatcom in 1985, and I got it in 1986.”
Despite Mooers’s retirement, his colleagues still value the impact he had on the math faculty, of which they are very grateful for to this day.
“I miss him, I miss getting advice from him, I think we all miss him to be honest,” said Stephens, “he was a good mentor to us, when we had problems with teaching, he would talk about them and give us advice, and he has a good sense of humor, he would say things that would make us a laugh.”
“He was a great colleague, he was someone who wanted to make sure that any decision made was in the best interest for all, whether it was a student, a faculty member, or the college as a whole,” said Thompson, “it was fun, it was upbeat, and it was always dynamic; Doug, myself, and a couple others worked together to create the learning center, we envisioned it to be a comprehensive support center for students. We would spend hours working after hours on weekends planning what could be, and what was realistic,”
“He was a father figure and a mentor to all the math faculty,” said Johnny Hu, current math faculty head.
“My first advice to students is never doubt yourself, believe in yourself, and utilize all resources that will contribute to your success. Number two is do not procrastinate, in other words: do work on assignments every day, I would also say to pursue what you love to do,” said Mooers.