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Highlighting the Research and Expertise of College of Charleston Professors

Professor Patrick Harwood
Department of Communication


Professor Martin Jones

Renard Professor Martin Jones
(a man of many talents!)

Numbers Add Up For Highly Rated Math Professor
By Holly Harrison

A math professor probably doesn't get boggled by numbers too often. But in this case, Martin Jones was left scratching his head and even a little startled by an unexpected honor.

Placing No. 6 in the nation among some
7. 5 million student-generated votes may inflate the average person's ego, yet Martin Jones remains humble about his ranking in the "Top 50 Highest Rated Professors of 2007" on RateMyProfessor.com, the Internet's largest site for collegiate professor ratings.

"I hadn't read the comments on the website until a woman from the Post and Courier called me up and started reading them to me," Jones admits. "It was a little embarrassing that she had read them and I hadn't seen them yet."

Comments posted by Jones' current and former students such as "I pray that one day he will teach another course that I have to take because I love him" are listed one after another, repeating students' admiration for the self-described "603-month-old" professor.

Jones teaches four sections of an Introduction to Statistics class- a requirement for many non-math majors. Many comments on RateMyProfessor.com exhibit how thankful students are for making this required, therefore sometimes dreaded, math class a pleasurable experience for them.

"I'm horrible at math but he made it crystal clear, I ended up with an A. If you have to take one math class, sign up for the one with Martin," one student posted on the site.

Additionally, Jones teaches probability and statistics topic classes such as Experimental Design, Time Series, and Stochastic Processes as well as graduate classes Environmental Statistics and Mathematical Statistics.

Jones says his teaching style is centered on the concept of fairness. "It is very important to me that everyone has the same opportunities to succeed in my class," he said.

He says his decision to focus on math was realized when he was an undergraduate at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, N.C., after taking a class from Dr. Russ Gossnell.

"I probably would have been a chemistry or biology major if it weren't for him," Jones says.

One professor's passion for math inspired him, so he tries to do the same to his students. .

"Just the other day as a student left my class, he said that he finally understood what a Randomized Complete Block Design was and why it was useful," Jones says.

He does, however, feel teaching does have a downside: tests.

"I have never liked giving tests and I have always disliked the focus on grades instead of learning," he says. (no wonder his students like him!).

"To paraphrase Bertrand Russell, the great philosopher and mathematician, when he said that learning something for any other reason than the pleasure of finding out how things work is ridiculous."

Jones admits he leaves little time in his life for relaxation. "Relax? I'm either going Mach V with my hair on fire or I'm asleep, I wish that I could relax," he says.

Yet while relaxation isn't a priority for Jones, his frequent smile and peaceful demeanor makes it clear that all work and no play is the opposite of stressful to him- he truly enjoys his life just the way it is.

Jones developed his strong work ethic at a young age. His first job consisted of mopping floors at Dunkin Donuts at the age of 12. He also worked teaching tennis and kayaking during the summers as well as guiding rafts on the Ocoee River in Tennessee. While completing his undergraduate degree, he worked in North Carolina on a farm doing "among other things, slaughtering pigs and cows." He says this inspired him to lead a vegetarian lifestyle.

After receiving his bachelor's degree from Warren Wilson, he wasn't ready to leave college behind, and hasn't since.

"School was always fun," he says. "I guess that's why I'm a professor. The academic lifestyle is the best."

Jones obtained his master's degree from the University of South Carolina and his doctorate from Georgia Tech.

Jones is fluent in Spanish as well and has taught two years in Venezuela and one year in Costa Rica.

"I really owe the Spanish department at College of Charleston for all of the excellent Spanish instruction," he says.

Aside from life involving academia, Jones dedicates his time to playing the flute in the College of Charleston's Flute Choir and Frank Duvall's student jazz combo. He also enjoys exercising, and involving himself in on-campus activities such as "Green Week," which focuses on getting students involved and learning how to reduce their impact on the environment.

Jones hopes for the future that he can have as positive of an impact on others as others have had on him.

"I hope years from now I'll still be learning new things, music, languages, mathematics, etc. and that I'll be healthy and able to lead an active, athletic life. Most of all, I hope that I will have opportunities and the ability to help other people," he said.

Jones' home page including his contact information can be found at www.cofc.edu/~jonesm.