Bruce Torrence, Ph.D.
Muscoe Garnett '30
Randolph-Macon College Professor of Mathematics Bruce Torrence, Ph.D., has been
named the first recipient of the Dorothy and Muscoe Garnett Professorship in Mathematics.
College President Robert R. Lindgren presented Torrence with the award on Friday,
May 1, 2009 in the McGraw-Page Library.
“It is my pleasure to congratulate Professor Torrence on this most impressive distinction,”
said Lindgren. “His teaching, scholarship and service, together with his exceptional
role as a mentor to students and faculty within his department and throughout the
College, eminently qualify him for this distinguished Randolph-Macon professorship.”
Torrence joined the faculty of Randolph-Macon in 1993. He earned a bachelor’s degree
in mathematics from Tufts University, a master’s degree in mathematics from the
University of Maryland and a Ph.D. in mathematics from University of Virginia.
Torrence served as a mathematics representative to the Teaching, Learning and Technology
Project of the Central Virginia Faculty Consortium from 1993-2007, and in 1994 he
was appointed chair of the Mathematics Assessment Committee. He served as an associate
faculty marshal and faculty marshal at R-MC from 1995-1997, and he was an instructor
for the Randolph-Macon Initiative for Successful Education (RISE) program at the
college from 1995-1998. He was the chair of the Mathematics Search Committee from
1996-97, 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2004-05 and 2007-08. Torrence served as the
co-director of the Honors Program from 1997-2000.
Torrence was the assistant chair of the R-MC mathematics department from 1997-1999
and in 1999 he was named the chair of the department, a position he continues
to hold. He was an elected member of the College Life Committee from 1994-1998,
and from 1994-2000 he was an elected member of the Resources and Plans Committee.
In addition, Torrence is a member of the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical
Association of America.
Torrence and his wife, Randolph-Macon College Professor Eve Torrence, Ph.D., are
the authors of The Student’s Introduction to Mathematica – A Handbook for Precalculus,
Calculus, and Linear Algebra (1999, Cambridge University Press). A second
edition of the book was released in January 2009.
During his tenure at Randolph-Macon College, Torrence has been the recipient of
numerous awards. In 1995 he received the Mednick Fellowship, Virginia Foundation
for Independent Colleges. In 1995, 1997, 2004, 2006 and 2008 he was awarded the
Walter W. Craigie Grant from R-MC, and in 1996 he received a $41,597 grant from
the National Science Foundation for a new Macintosh computer classroom. The classroom
was renovated in the summer of 2000 and is used for teaching courses in calculus,
statistics, modeling, linear algebra and differential equations. In 2001-'02 Torrence
received a Rashkind Grant.
Torrence is co-editor of Math Horizons, the Mathematical Association of America's
journal for undergraduates. In 2008 the organization presented him with the John
M. Smith Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching for the Maryland,
Virginia, and Washington, D.C. area. Torrence has also published numerous articles
in mathematics journals. In 2001, a research project that Torrence collaborated
on with two of his students won first place in a national competition. Their team
was one of two in the U.S. to attain the "Outstanding" designation in the MathServe
competition sponsored by the Consortium for Mathematics and its Applications (COMAP).
Randolph-Macon College Provost William W. Johnston lauded Torrence's talents and
achievements at Friday's installation. "Dr. Torrence is an extraordinary teacher,
beloved by his students as a mentor and a gifted lecturer, and also someone who
creates a classroom experience for them where they learn by doing mathematics,"
said Johnston. "Bruce is a steady and effective leader who has served as chair of
the mathematics department for ten years. Ask any of the mathematics faculty and
they will testify to his influence to make the department run smoothly, as a place
filled with collegial service and appreciation for what each faculty member brings.
It is a pleasure for me, as I teach mathematics at Randolph-Macon, to serve under
Torrence accepted the professorship by thanking his colleagues, friends and family
for their support. "It is a great privilege to stand before you this afternoon,
and I do so with humility, respect and a profound sense of awe for the generosity
and foresight embodied in the very nature of this award," he said. Torrence recounted
his early days at R-MC: "The quality of this academic community, the beauty and
scale of Ashland itself, my first R-MC football game, the sense of purpose that
was so clearly manifest in faculty, staff, administration and students...these had
a profound impact on me."
He also highlighted the recent achievements of his mathematics department colleagues.
"I am most comfortable accepting this award on behalf of the entire mathematics
department," said Torrence. "My colleagues in mathematics have been a continuing
source of inspiration for both me and for our students."
In closing, Torrence said, "I wish to express my gratitude to all those individuals
who made this award possible, and to acknowledge Henry Simpson, an alumnus and friend
of the Garnett family, and Robert VanCott, a nephew of the Garnetts who came from
New York to be here today. I wish to thank President Lindgren and Provost Johnston
for their careful administration of the award. And finally, I wish to thank my family:
my wife, Eve, and children Robert and Alexandra, for all they do every day to inspire
The Dorothy and Muscoe Garnett Professorship in Mathematics was established in 2008
through the generous bequest of Dorothy and Muscoe Garnett ’30. “Of all the gifts
a college receives, none makes a more profound difference than the gift of an endowed
professorship,” said Lindgren. “Dorothy and Muscoe Garnett, in creating this professorship,
clearly recognized the important role professors play in developing the minds and
character of our students and producing outstanding graduates and community leaders.
On behalf of the College, I thank them most sincerely for their generosity and commitment
to this wonderful college.”
Representing the Garnetts at the ceremony was Henry Simpson, a member of the Class
of 1952 and a friend of the Garnett family. Simpson spoke of the Garnett's generosity
and their unwavering loyalty to Randolph-Macon College. Following Simpson's remarks,
Frank Donnelly '12 led the audience in the singing of the Alma Mater.
To read Dr. Bruce Torrence's acceptance speech, please click