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.

2017 Parsons Lecture

Dr. Tim Chartier, Davidson University

Playing from a Laptop: Sports Analytics

By Dr. Tim Chartier
Davidson College

Thursday, March 30, 2017, 7 p.m
UNC Asheville, Wilma M. Sherrill Center
Kimmell Arena

Free and Open to the Public


Sports analytics is a growing field. The larger field of data analytics is exploding as a field requiring skills in mathematics and computer science. What sports projects can be tackled as an undergraduate? This talk will discuss a variety of projects Dr. Tim Chartier of Davidson College has directed with his students, who have ranged from first years to seniors and include math and non-math majors. His projects have varied from helping the German National Basketball Team to his own college teams. He’s also aided the NBA, NASCAR, and ESPN. Learn how to play a sport — as a sports analyst!

Parson Lecture Archives

  • 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.