Russell Howell, who has taught mathematics at Westmont for 35 years, will be installed as the Kathleen Smith professor of natural and behavioral sciences Friday, Oct. 18, at 10:30 a.m. in Murchison Gym. After the full-regalia ceremony, Howell will speak on “Does Mathematics Require Faith? Does Faith Require Mathematics?” at 3:30 p.m. in Porter Theatre.
“It seems that the obvious answer to both questions is a resounding no,” Howell says. “It may come as no surprise, then, that my response is an enthusiastic yes.”
A faculty panel discussion, “The Role of Christians in the Academy: Secular and Faith-Based Institutions,” will immediately follow Howell’s lecture and end at 5 p.m. in Porter Theatre. The panel includes Robert Brabenec, professor of mathematics at Wheaton College; David J. Hunter, professor of mathematics at Westmont; Lesa Stern, associate professor of communication studies at Westmont; and Frances Edward Su, Benediktsson-Karwa professor of mathematics at Harvey Mudd College.
Howell contributed to and co-edited a book, “Mathematics Through the Eyes of Faith,” which examines the connections between math and faith. He also co- authored a popular textbook, “Complex Analysis for Mathematics and Engineering,” which is in its sixth edition.
“I am thankful to be part of a team of fellow faculty members and staff who collectively provide our students not only with a first-rate education, but also help guide and direct them as they map out their calling as Christians while at Westmont and afterwards,” Howell says.
Provost Mark Sargent describes Howell as both rigorous and reasonable. “He has high standards, asks excellent questions and yet is always willing to look for solutions that serve the greater good,” he says. “As a scholar, he is clearly distinguished for thinking in interdisciplinary ways about his field, often reaching into philosophy, theology, history and other disciplines to discuss vital concepts. He has devoted much of his life serving students and to enriching the intellectual ethos of Westmont, and I am delighted for him that he will be installed in the Smith chair.”
Kathleen Smith, a longtime neighbor of the college, left $1.7 million in her will for Westmont when she died in 1988. The chair includes a stipend for research.