A Closer Look

Living a Legacy a True Individual

dallas | CARTER

In 1970, Richard Nixon was president, the Beatles broke up, and Clark Kimberling, professor of mathematics, began teaching at UE.

Back when UE still had a football team, Kimberling — working on his Ph.D. at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago — moved to Evansville with his wife Margaret and their twins.

A few months later, he went back to IIT to receive his Ph.D. Kimberling said the best part about becoming a doctor was telling his children.

“It was fun trying to explain to 3-year old twins that I was a doctor,” he said. “They asked what I did and I said, ‘I fix sick numbers.’”

Kimberling comes from a family of teachers and has known he wanted to teach since he was young. He worked as an instructor at Northwest Missouri State College from 1967–1969 and IIT from 1969–1970.

While pursuing his master’s degree, he made the decision to begin a career as a professor, partly influenced by admiration for his professors at University of North Texas, where he studied mathematics.

Kimberling has had the opportunity to cultivate his passions for math and teaching as well as watch UE change.

“UE was charming in the ’70s,” Kimberling said. When Kimberling started at UE, campus was physically different. Kimberling remembers when the School of Nursing was based in a house in the middle of campus and faculty was more involved in campus activities. He even played trumpet in a faculty ensemble for a theatre production.

While Kimberling has also noticed subtle changes in the students, such as attitudes, social conditioning and reasons for attending school, most aspects are the same. Mathematicians like to measure things and Kimberling said even though changes can’t be easily measured, there probably aren’t many.

“It’s tempting for people to say ‘the good old days,’ but there were none,” he said. “The problems we have now were still present then.”

The use of electronic devices has had the biggest effect on him. While he was skeptical, Kimberling has recently embraced the change by assigning online homework but he does not want to overemphasize technology as he feels his students use it enough.

Students spend more time communicating with another person than any generation before them, and Kimberling said this could have a negative effect. While math homework and research are better done alone, he sees students

sticking to their groups rather than exploring their own individuality. As time goes on, he hopes to role model for these ideas. 

“I would like [students] to see me as a pretty extreme example of an individual,” he said.

Staying true to his word, Kimberling paved a unique path for himself. Through his research, he created the “Encyclopedia of Triangle Centers” — an encyclopedia of every known, published or named triangle center.

Originally called special points in the plane of a triangle by the ancient Greeks, Kimberling has added at least 400 centers to the list. He also coined the name triangle centers, now an official term.

His work has not gone unnoticed as more than two-thirds of new triangle centers come from a Wikipedia page about the encyclopedia, but Kimberling said he has never contributed.

While his work impacts students and math ematics, Kimberling said they also affect him.

“There are times I come back from teaching a class and I just feel good,” he said. “I don’t think many people my age feel that good about something.” people influenced by him. There is also something.”

Kimberling said being around youth helps him stay young, a fact that drives his decision not to slow down anytime soon.

Although next year marks his 50th anniversary with UE, he continues to add to the encyclopedia and explore other hobbies. The 76-year old plays the recorder and recently published a collection of compositions titled “Introits and Anthems for Voices and Bells.”

“I can’t imagine being retired,” Kimberling said. With his passion, talent and true individualism , it’s doubtful anyone can.

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