Arthur Benjamin, the Smallwood Family Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College, is the recipient of the 2017 Henry T. Mudd Prize, an award that recognizes extraordinary service.
Benjamin accepted the prize from President Maria Klawe at the College’s 59th Commencement ceremony May 14. Awardees receive $6,000, $3,000 of which is designated for use within the College at the discretion of the recipient.
The Henry T. Mudd Prize is awarded each year at Commencement to a member of the Harvey Mudd community whose service to the College and its mission is deemed exemplary. Henry T. Mudd (1913–1990), the son of Harvey S. Mudd, was instrumental in the creation and early development of the College named for his father. Henry Mudd served as a founding trustee and chair of the board for 23 years.
Benjamin is both a mathematician and a magician. The two roles combine to make him a remarkable teacher, a writer whose works appeal to a wide variety of readers, and a performer who can enlighten as well as entertain. As a magician, Benjamin performs a mixture of math and magic to audiences all over the world, including the Magic Castle in Hollywood. He has demonstrated and explained his calculating talents in his book and DVD course, Secrets of Mental Math, and on numerous television programs. He has been featured in many national newspapers and magazines and has given three TED talks, which have been viewed over 12 million times. Princeton Review recently profiled him in the book, The Best 300 Professors. Reader’s Digest calls Benjamin “America’s Best Math Whiz.”
Benjamin earned his bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from Carnegie Mellon University and his doctorate in mathematical sciences from Johns Hopkins University. Since 1989, he has taught at Harvey Mudd College, where he is the Smallwood Family Professor of Mathematics and past chair of the Department of Mathematics. In 2000, he received the Haimo Award for Distinguished Teaching from the Mathematical Association of America. Earlier this year, he received the JPBM Communications Award for Public Outreach. which recognized his books aimed at general audiences, his TED talks, his popular video courses from The Great Courses and his “mathemagics” performances. His work demonstrates “his ability and commitment to share the joy of mathematics, and excites and engages audiences at all levels,” the prize citation says. The Joint Policy Board for Mathematics (JPBM) represents the American Mathematical Society, the American Statistical Association, the Mathematical Association of America, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.
Text of the Harvey Mudd Prize citation awarded to Benjamin
For his extraordinary service to Harvey Mudd College spanning over two and a half decades, during which he has served with wisdom, kindness, passion and expertise;
For his teaching with clarity and humility, but also with a healthy dose of theatrical flair;
For his scholarly leadership, recognized nationally, which includes his co-authoring over 40 papers with students, advising over two dozen senior theses, and publishing and co-editing several books;
For being an unofficial ambassador for Harvey Mudd, raising the College’s visibility throughout the world;
For making Harvey Mudd College memorable to hundreds of secondary school counselors and prospective students;
For his profound impact on young people who are just starting to discover their love for mathematics, and who become enthralled with his Mathemagics;
For his tremendous reach to audiences online, via books and CDs, and at the Magic Castle;
For inspiring thousands of people by making mathematics entertaining and enjoyable;
An individual who has served with distinction both this College and the greater community of higher education, Arthur Benjamin, Smallwood Family Professor of Mathematics, is hereby designated the 2017 recipient of the Henry T. Mudd Prize.