New Math Professor Uses Broad Experience to Benefit Aquinas
Long-time math professor Dr. Collin Ballance tirelessly crafted mathematics majors over the past few years, an initiative laid out by the Vision 2020: Truth and Charity strategic plan. But when he decided to retire at the end of the 2015-2016 academic year, the School of Arts and Sciences had big shoes to fill. In late summer, in stepped Dr. Mark Causapin.
An Interesting Career Path
Born and raised in the Philippines, Dr. Causapin started his professional career as an industrial engineer. Before pursuing graduate studies, he taught mathematics at Cathedral Preparatory High School Seminary in Queens, New York. He has also taught students in Hong Kong through Johns Hopkins’ esteemed Center for Talented Youth Summer Program. This is where he met his wife Kathleen, who now teaches math at St. Cecilia Academy which shares a campus with Aquinas.
After receiving his M.A. and Ph.D. in Mathematics Education from Columbia University in 2012, Dr. Causapin moved to the United Arab Emirates to teach at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi. He served as chair of the Mathematics and Statistics Department there from 2013 until accepting the position at Aquinas in 2016.
New Country, New Culture
Dr. Causapin explains about teaching in the Middle East: “It was a great opportunity to teach in the context of a different culture and a rapidly changing society, to work in a newly established university, to develop new courses and a new mathematics major, and to learn about a region that is quite different from what I’m used to.”
As a professor in a foreign country with Islam so ingrained in the government and customs, there was a lot to learn. “There are differences in banking and financial practices,” he explained. “We taught a small section covering Islamic banking, comparing it to a more western style of banking.”
About his move back to the U.S., the math professor said, “I’m very happy to be here at Aquinas. The students exude happiness and are very enjoyable to work with.”
Dr. Causapin had previous personal experience with the Nashville Dominican Sisters. His wife Kathleen attended Mount de Sales Academy, an all-girls high school in Catonsville, Maryland, administered and staffed by the Sisters. She also taught there for 9 years. She and Mark were married in the school’s chapel.
Leadership for the New Major
Now in its first semester, the new mathematics majors are offered in the School of Arts and Sciences as a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and in the School of Education as a Bachelor of Science (B.S.). The B.A. prepares students with a solid liberal arts foundation and an intensive mathematics area of study for majors to excel in a variety of fields including education, business, and science. The B.S. in the School of Education prepares majors to teach math at a secondary level. Students who successfully complete the degree requirements may be recommended for 6–12 licensure.
About the major, Dr. Causapin expresses his hope that more students would consider the major “because there is a great need for people who are mathematically and statistically adept.” The major benefits the College as a whole, as he explains, “I hope everyone reaches a certain level of mathematical and statistical proficiency not only because these skills are useful, but also because a better understanding of the world can be gained through mathematics and statistics.”