Veselin Jungic

Excellence in teaching awards: Veselin Jungic

April 3, 2008

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By Diane Luckow

At 8:30 a.m., the 500-seat lecture theatre for Calculus I is full. That’s quite a feat for any instructor or professor. For senior math lecturer Veselin Jungic, it’s the norm.

The winner of an SFU 2007 Excellence in Teaching award, Jungic pulls out all the stops to help his students realize that mathematics is inherently useful and beautiful. He has even produced a three-part Math Girl video series that uses animated characters and comedy to explain calculus’ principles and usefulness.

“In my opinion, the trick around teaching is to listen to the students and learn about the world they live in,” explains Jungic. The videos, he says, are his attempt to use a medium that’s close to students.

“If I can make 500 people laugh at 8:30 in the morning, and if that helps them learn, for me that’s good enough,” he says.

Math and teaching have been constants in Jungic’s life. He first taught math in Bosnia but fled his war-torn homeland in 1992. He arrived in Vancouver with little English, but by 1999, had earned a PhD in math from SFU and joined the math department in 2001.

Among his many contributions to the department are the creation of online assignments for several math courses, and a successful Saturday morning enrichment program, A Taste of Pi, which attracts more than 80 Grade 8-10 students from 23 Lower Mainland high schools. He also teaches math to adult learners, including students in SFU’s Aboriginal University Prep program.

Jungic’s passion for math and interest in his students are a common refrain in their nomination letters, in which they recall his patience and sincere interesting in helping them. Said one, “Surprisingly enough, he took the time and effort to learn the names and/or faces of individuals in a 500-person class and noticed when they weren’t there.”

Said another, “He overwhelmingly deserves an Excellence in Teaching award and a sincere thank-you from all of the students he has inspired over the years.”

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