Department of Mathematics - College of Natural Sciences Colorado State University

Professor Kenneth Klopfenstein retires from Colorado State University

Ken Klopfenstein

Professor Kenneth Klopfenstein retired from Colorado State University in the Department of Mathematics on July 31, 2014 after 47 years of dedicated service to the department and campus community. Prof. Klopfenstein completed a Master of Science degree in mathematics at CSU in 1963 (under the direction of Prof. Emeritus F. Max Stein), completed a Ph.D. in mathematics at Purdue University in 1967, and returned to Colorado State as a faculty member in the mathematics department later that year. During his 47 year career at CSU, Prof. Klopfenstein's focus was primarily undergraduate education, especially pre-calculus and calculus, introductory analysis, and mathematics education. Prof. Klopfenstein's student-centered philosophy of teaching was inspired by Prof. Fred Keller, inventor of the Personalized System of Instruction (PSI). Prof. Keller was a visiting professor at Colorado State in the early 1970's when Prof. Klopfenstein was beginning his teaching career.

Prof. Klopfenstein was co-director, with Ms. Lois Samer, of the Individualized Mathematics Program (IMP) for more than 20 years. The IMP was a large-scale adaption of Keller's Personalized System of Instruction to teaching pre-calculus mathematics. Several graduate students' Master of Science thesis projects involved studying teaching and learning issues in the IMP. Prof. Klopfenstein was awarded Provost's N. Preston Davis Award for Instructional Innovation for his work developing this program. The current PACe Program is the twenty-first century version of the Individualized Mathematics Program.

For the decade following his tenure as co-director of the IMP, Prof. Klopfenstein supervised the first-semester calculus course for physical sciences and engineering students. He taught the course, coordinated graduate assistants teaching smaller sections, and developed resources and teaching strategies to improve the overall success rate. During this time, Prof. Klopfenstein collaborated with two Ph.D. students on their dissertation research that involved designing and evaluating strategies for improving students' success in calculus.

Each year for the past three decades, Prof. Klopfenstein taught the junior-level transition course MATH 317 Advanced Calculus. The class sessions and course materials were structured to emphasize patterns of thought mathematicians use to formulate mathematical conjectures and to develop and evaluate mathematical arguments. Many students attribute their decision to pursue further studies in mathematics to their experiences in this course. In fall of 2004, Prof. Klopfenstein received the College of Natural Sciences Faculty Undergraduate Teaching Award for his work with MATH 317.

Prof. Klopfenstein served on numerous departmental and university committees, including the Mathematics Department Executive Committee, the Mathematics Department Undergraduate Committee, the University Faculty Council, the Faculty Council Executive Committee, the Faculty Council Committee on Faculty Governance, and the Faculty Council Committee on Teaching and Learning. He served on the governing board, as treasurer, and as president of the International Society for Exploring Teaching Alternatives (now the International Society for Exploring Teaching and Learning).

Below are a few highlights from his retirement party in August.

Ken Klopfenstein
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