Sunday, June 6, 2010

In memory and appreciation of Prof. Leo Schneider

Just two months ago, we were honored to have Professor Leo Schneider come to Albany for NYSML, the statewide math championship math meet, where our students, as well as students from all over New York State, got to see him in action as he helped to run the tiebreak rounds (above, with George Reuter) and subsequently explained the mathematics behind the solutions to those problems to an audience of hundreds of students.

Professor Schneider has composed many terrific problems to challenge and inspire high school students at ARML and NYSML over the years. In fact, he has written all of the problems used at NYSML for at least a decade, and he has also overseen the grading of the essay/proof-based Power Question during that time. He has also contributed AMC contest problems and volunteered with the International Math Olympiad. Our students have very much enjoyed working on many of his problems during official competitions, as well as learning more from those problems by working on them informally afterwards as they prepared for future competitions.

Yesterday, the American Regions Math League (ARML) national organization honored Professor Schneider by awarding him the 2010 Al Kalfus Award for Distinguished Service. Prof. Schneider was on-site to receive that honor, as well as to serve in his role as Chief Judge of the national high school math contest, including overseeing the grading of the power round on Appolonian circle packing.

Less than 24 hours later, we received the sad news that Professor Schneider passed away suddenly while traveling from ARML.

He leaves a remarkable legacy behind--thousands and thousands of students all over the state and all over the country, inspired and energized by the mathematical excitement he created in the problems he composed for them. And decades of future students will grow mathematically by continuing to work informally on those problems in the future.

Professor Moorthy, Mr. Babbitt, Professor Biswas, Beth Schaffer, and I had the privilege of meeting and dining with Professor Schneider and other NYSML officials the night before NYSML this year. His eyes sparkled as he talked about how he'd found inspiration for this year's Power Question in a visit to a factory that used computer-controlled milling machines. His motto was "There's a Power Question in everything!" and it's clear that his mind was constantly open to the possibility of interesting mathematics in every daily encounter.

Thank you, Professor Schneider. You will be missed, and we will think of you as we continue to work with future cohorts of students and to reflect on the mathematics embodied in the problems you have composed.


Paul said...

As a colleague of Professor Schneider's on the Pi Mu Epsilon Council, I want to tell you how grateful I am for this tribute. Thank you so very much.

Paul Fishback
PME Councilor
Professor of Mathematics
Grand Valley State University
Allendale, Michigan

Carl said...

Thanks for the very nice tribute of Leo. Readers may wish to also read the tribute posted on the web site at John Carroll University, Leo's "home" for 37 years:

Carl Spitznagel
John Carroll University

Carl said...

Whoops--that was actually 47 years!

萱祥 said...

Never put off till tomorrow what may be done today...................................................................

allison said...

I was a student of Dr. Schneider in 2005. He was the most energetic and enthusiastic professor I have ever had. His "stars and bars" approach to graph theory was my favorite part of all the courses I took while at Carroll, and he never turned any student away that need help, regardless of what class they needed help with. I am deeply sorry to have missed his services. It is because of his teaching that I have performed well outside of JCU, and I am proud to say that he had a strong doing in my success as a Master's graduate in biostatistics from Case. He will always be remembered.