Parsons Lecture

Joe ParsonsIn 1998 a Mathematics alumnus from UNC Asheville provided an endowment, in honor of Joe Parsons, to fund this annual lecture series. The goal of the Parsons Lecture is to provide the UNC Asheville community with the ability to attend locally a presentation by a nationally renowned mathematician speaking on a topic accessible to the general audience. Speakers for the lecture series are invited to present a lecture not just because of their renown as mathematicians, but also for their skills as educators and orators. The endowment is used to fund travel and other expenses incurred by the speaker and department. Find information on the Parsons scholarship here.

2019 Parsons Lecture

Dr. Ronald TaylorThe UNC Asheville Department of Mathematics is proud to present a lecture by Dr. Ronald Taylor.

Dr. Ronald D. Taylor
Professor of Mathematics, Berry College

Thursday, March 21, 2019, 7 p.m
UNC Asheville, Lipinsky Auditorium

Lecture Title
The Patterns of Play: A Recreational View of Mathematics

The experience that most people have with math is through manipulating symbols or doing numerical calculations. But seldom do we hear of mathematics as something that is done for enjoyment.    However, once we have an understanding of patterns, we can apply this knowledge to a variety of things that people do for fun, even activities that do not necessarily seem mathematical.  In this talk, we will explore a recreational perspective of mathematics and look at examples of mathematical structures found in origami, games and card tricks.

Free and Open to the Public

Parson Lecture Archives

  • 2018 - "From Monroe to NASA" by Dr. Christine Darden
  • 2017 - "Playing from a Laptop: Sports Analytics" by Dr. Tim Chartier
  • 2016 - "Chaos Games and Fractal Images" by Dr. Bob Devaney
  • 2015 - "The Shape of Space" by Dr. Jeffrey Weeks
  • 2014 - "The Right Treatment for the Right Patient at the Right Time: Personalized Medicine and Statistics" By Dr. Marie Davidian
  • 2013 - "The Great Pi vs E debate!" by Dr. Thomas Garrity and Dr.Colin Adams
  • 2012 - "Codes are everywhere!" by Dr. Judy Walker
  • 2011 - "Monkeys, Mathematics, and Mischief: What are the lifelong lessons of education?" by Dr. Edward B. Burger
  • 2010 - "This is so wrong!" by Dr. Stan Wagon
  • 2009 - "From Flatland to Hypergraphics Geometry and Art in the 4th dimension" by Dr. Tomas F. Banchoff
  • 2008 - "Mathematical Modeling in Biology: What is it? And how is it useful?" by Dr. Mary Lou Zeeman
  • 2007 - "We vote but do we elect who we really want?" by Dr. Donald Saari
  • 2006 - "Breaking Driver's License Codes" by Dr. Joseph Gallian
  • 2005 - "Ingenious mathematical amateurs: M.C. Escher (artist) and Marjorie Rice (homemaker)" by Dr. Doris Schattschneider
  • 2004 - "On the Number of Groups of a Given Order" by Dr. John Conway
  • 2003 - "Newton and Liebnitz: Mathematicians at War" by Dr. William Dunham
  • 2002 - "The Chaos Game and Fractal Image" by Dr. Robert Devaney

Meet Joe Parsons

Celebrating exceptional teaching at UNC Asheville - past, present, and future

Joe Parsons grew up on a farm in western Tennessee and graduated from high school at 15 in 1931. In order that he might get a teaching certificate, a friend gave Joe enough money to attend his first year of college. He completed his undergraduate work and went on to the University of Tennessee for his graduate degree.  

When Joe started at Asheville-Biltmore College (what is now UNC Asheville), he was the entire Math Department, and through much of the 1970's he was the chair of the department. Other roles he filled at UNC Asheville include Dean of Students and Academic Dean. Joe also helped formulate the current plan of the UNC Asheville campus including the choice for the library to face Mt. Pisgah. The view from the library steps is admired on campus. He also was instrumental in the development of the first 4-year curriculum when UNC Asheville joined the UNC system.

Joe matched his dedication to this institution with his dedication to his students. Joe was known to students at UNC Asheville as a wonderful teacher with a good sense of humor. He personally founded an endowment for student scholarships in mathematics. Even in retirement he could not stay away from the classroom, reading for elementary students at Claxton school here in Asheville. Until his death on Sunday ,September 24, 2006, Joe continued to contribute to education in his community. He will be missed.

In 1998 one of Joe's former students provided an endowment for the Parsons Lecture series to honor the dedication of this great educator and continue his legacy.