Profile of a Professor: Dr. Louise Berard; mathematics

Dr. Louise Berard is a professor of Mathematics at Wilkes. This is her 35 and last year here, as she is retiring.

During her career here at Wilkes, Berard says she has taught between 30 and 40 different Mathematics courses, all ranging from 100 level to graduate level. In the beginning of her career she also taught several computer science courses, and later several Teacher’s Ed courses for students who were future secondary and elementary school mathematics teachers.

Berard was born and raised in the Hazleton area, where she still lives with her husband today. She received her bachelor’s degree from Kings College, and her PhD from Brown University in Providence Rhode Island.

Although Berard has only ever taught at the college level, she is convinced that it is the perfect match for her.

“I like this age group; college teaching is very rewarding because students have a lot of maturity, but they are still fun-loving. The students at Wilkes I have found to be fun-loving, and yet very respectful. They’re just nice people.”

Teaching Mathematics also seems to be a perfect match for Berard, because it allows her to “not just convey information, but help students to develop their reasoning abilities and their abilities to explain their thinking,” she says.

Berard is very passionate about education. Her passion is shared by her husband, who taught Mathematics at Kings College for 40 years. This shared affinity for teaching has made both her marriage and professional life very special.

“We have felt particularly gratified when our students themselves go on to be math teachers… sometimes it sticks and sometimes it doesn’t, but if we’ve had the right kind of influence it will continue into the future. The students out there teaching Mathematics will have a similar influence on their students.”

Berard was the chair of the Mathematics department at Wilkes for 7 years, and says that she hired about half of the current faculty in the department.

She was also Vice President and President of the local section of the Mathematical Association of America, which is a leading professional organization in the field of college Mathematics. Her position allowed her and her husband to make many professional contacts as well as give several presentations at national meetings. She also was able to give talks in places such as Lycoming College and Bucknell University.

Berard was particularly filled with gratitude upon receiving the Outstanding Teaching Award at Wilkes early in her career. “I was happy that my students and colleagues felt I was worthy of that,” she says.

Fortunately, as a woman in mathematics, Berard says she personally faced very little opposition on her track to success. “When I was in college and graduate school, most of the students that were with me were males. Proportionally there weren’t many women. I can’t generalize, but I think most mathematicians and professors love the discipline, so it was a supportive environment… I don’t think my being a woman has really entered much.”

Berard mentions that she admires Malala Yousafzai as a great woman, “because she values education so dearly.”

When she isn’t teaching, Dr. Berard enjoys being outdoors. She and her husband enjoy biking and walking, and she likes to ride her 125cc motor scooter through the countryside. She also enjoys studying foreign languages and travelling, and she and her husband have escorted 7 trips to Europe with travelers that they have recruited from both inside and outside their schools.

Dr. Berard will be missed at Wilkes, but her influence will live on through her students.