Dr. Mark Mattson

Dr. Mark Mattson

I wear Hawaiian t-shirts and shorts even in the winter.

I can recite the entire Redskins roster for the past 20 years.

I have a current fascination with the video game Diablo II.

I take pride in my knowledge of oldies trivia.

I love fantasy stories.

I am considered by friends to be an expert crossword puzzle solver.

I met my wife on the Internet, and only months after meeting we fell in love and got married.

I find inspiration in my life through my family.

Those words are how JMU's Dr. Mark Mattson describes himself. Dr. Mattson earned his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from Virginia Tech, or as he calls it, "Cow Tech." After teaching at Ferrum College and Virginia Tech, he came to JMU in 1997 to fill a one-year position in the physics department and unfortunately had to leave at the end of the year. Dr. Mattson returned to "Cow Tech" for a year to teach, but the dean of JMU's physics department did not forget the excellence of Dr. Mattson's work. When another one-year position opened up in 1999, Dr. Mattson returned to JMU. After that, the university decided that it could keep Dr. Mattson on to expand its math center into a math and science learning center. Thanks to the help of Bob Horton and Chuck Cunningham, Dr. Mattson has now found a permanent home in the JMU community.

Today Dr. Mattson is not only known by students as "the" teacher to take for GSCI 101, but also as the guy they can come to for help in the learning center. GSCI 101, if you don't already know, is a Gen-Ed requirement for students who do not major in science or math. The course is particularly challenging - the packed classroom is full of students of varying ages and experience levels who are being exposed to unfamiliar material. But Dr. Mattson's enthusiastic teaching style makes the course interesting for the mostly non-science majors he teaches. He will be discussing the laws of physics in a very serious manner and then suddenly crack a joke to make the students laugh. Personally, as a non-science major, I can say that having Dr. Mattson as a professor made what could have been a traumatic trip in physics and chemistry enjoyable. At any moment my class would jump to attention as objects were thrown down the hall or chairs pushed into walls to prove a physics point.

Dr. Mattson spends the majority of the day in the math and science learning center. With his good friend Chuck Cunningham, Dr. Mattson helps any student who walks through the door with the same enthusiasm as he teaches class. Though responsible for the science side of the center, Dr. Mattson will eagerly help any student in any subject - from physics to calculus to philosophy - if so desired.

Albert Einstein said that, "example isn't another way to teach, it is the only way to teach," which is a great way to describe Dr. Mattson. His in-class antics are educational and presented in a way that students remember. Even more significant is the example he sets for students by his positive attitude. Dr. Mattson's enthusiasm and approachable attitude are noticed and appreciated by the countless students he has helped over the past few years.

His life outside of JMU adds to his example. He values his family above all else and remains inspired by his wife, often asking himself in situations, "What would my wife do?"

A self-described "happy-go-lucky guy," Dr. Mattson bounces around the learning center laughing and helping students throughout his day. Now that JMU is lucky enough to have Dr. Mattson in a permanent position, he hopes to stay to expand the center's assistance to students. Though Dr. Mattson feels he does not deserve today's award, I promise you that his services to the JMU community make him over qualified. The so-called "physics guy" at JMU, a professor who will know your name after a couple of visits to the center, deserves the "all together one" Award because of his personal interest and dedication to students. Dr. Mattson, many JMU students have benefited from your generous help and have been touched by your animated, carefree attitude.

The JMU community would like to thank Dr. Mark Mattson.

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