Jacobsen Awarded Mudd Prize

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Jon Jacobsen, professor of mathematics and former vice president for student affairs and dean of students, is the recipient of the 2018 Henry T. Mudd Prize, an award that recognizes extraordinary service.

Jacobsen accepted the award from President Maria Klawe at the College’s 60th Commencement ceremony May 13. 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.

Jacobsen served as associate dean for academic Affairs from 2010 to 2015, then became vice president for student affairs and dean of students, a position he held until 2018. He was lauded for strengthening and growing the Division of Student Affairs and providing improved services for students, especially in areas of diversity and inclusion, community engagement, health and wellness, and leadership. In his role as an academic, Jacobsen researches nonlinear elliptic partial differential equations and their applications, including wave movement; water flow in streams and its effect on ecosystems; and creating flat surfaces efficiently. He is also active in K-12 math education outreach programs and co-founded the Pathways Program, which facilitates visits from professional mathematicians to elementary, junior high and high school classrooms.

In accepting his award during the commencement ceremony, a visibly surprised Jacobsen approached the podium amid enthusiastic applause from graduates, faculty and Klawe. He thanked his colleagues and congratulated the Class of 2018, to which he said, “At times like this I am reminded of a Lord Buckley quote. Lord Buckley said, ‘People are the true flowers of life,’ and it has been the most precious pleasure to have temporarily strolled through your garden.”

Text of the Harvey Mudd Prize citation awarded to Jacobsen

For his exemplary service to Harvey Mudd College and to our students for nearly sixteen years, during which he served with dedication, kindness, compassion and collegiality;

For his selfless dedication to the mission, quality and overall good of this institution;For his supportive leadership both in and outside of the classroom and for his dedication to the intellectual development, emotional well-being and all-around success of each student;

For his ongoing contributions to his field, particularly through his collaborations in mathematical ecology;

For his active outreach to the community involving much-needed engagement with K-12 math education outreach programs, co-founding the Pathways Program and creating the Math Demo Lab featured on NPR’s Science Friday;

For his also serving the College as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from 2010-2015, then later assuming the responsibilities of the role of Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students in 2015;

For his tireless efforts to strengthen and grow the Division of Student Affairs and to provide improved services for all students; especially in areas of diversity and inclusion, community engagement, health and wellness, and leadership.

Jon Jacobsen, aka Dean Jakes, Professor of Mathematics, is hereby designated as the 2018 recipient of the Henry T. Mudd Prize.