Faculty Focus – Dr. Kyle Besing

“My official title is associate professor of mathematics, Mathematics Program coordinator, and division chair of the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. My unofficial title is ‘professor of dad jokes.’”

Why do you teach?
“I have a passion for my subject area. I have always found math fascinating. Teaching gives me the opportunity to share that passion with students as I continue to learn more. Additionally, I feel that mathematics has gotten a bad reputation over the years. There is a subset of the population who truly believe math is a subject accessible only by people ‘who are good at math.’ I spend a great deal of time working to dissuade students of that idea and to show them that everyone can enjoy this subject. I take great pride in reading feedback like ‘I actually enjoyed this class,’ or ‘This is the first math class where I wasn’t scared to come to class.”Classes you teach
“Math professors at KWC can teach a wide variety of classes given the diverse training required in our field. I have taught everything from MATH095 – Foundations of Algebra to MATH402 – Abstract Algebra”. My favorite classes to teach are MATH104 – Probability and Statistics, MATH121 – Calculus I, MATH303 – Introduction to Higher Mathematics, and MATH307 – Linear Algebra.”

What do you most enjoy and find rewarding about teaching?
“The most rewarding aspect of teaching is the connections I make with students. The size of KWC means I can really get to know my students, and I commonly have them in multiple classes. Discovering all the amazing people who attend this school and then watching their lives after Wesleyan is immensely rewarding.”

What do you find most challenging about teaching?
“As I mentioned earlier, my students often enter my classroom with a variety of negative impressions about mathematics. I enjoy the work of helping students change their viewpoint, but the start of each semester can be humbling when I see how closed off and hesitant my field makes other people. Also, students have the audacity to up and graduate after I have spent four years getting to know them.”

What do The Wesleyan Way principles mean to you?
“One of the reasons I believe Wesleyan is such a great fit for me comes from the principles enshrined in the Wesleyan Way. I don’t feel like the adoption of the Wesleyan Way changed our campus and community, but rather gave a succinct summary of the culture that was already present. I have never felt anything other than welcomed by the faculty, staff, students and alumni since I arrived.”

Other responsibilities at KWC
“I was the faculty trustee this past year and will be handing the position off to Professor Nate Gross. The faculty trustee serves as a liaison between the faculty and the administration and board of trustees. I greatly enjoyed the experience of working with the trustees this past year. Spending time with a group of people who are so invested in the College makes me excited for the future.”

What is a typical Saturday?
“My Saturdays are generally spent with my family. My wife, Rachel, is a psychology professor at Brescia University and is affectionately referred to as “The Better Dr. Besing” by my students. (I tell myself that it is out of love and that they are kidding). We have a son, Marshall, who is 6 years old and will be starting first grade at Highland Elementary in the fall. He constantly amazes me with his wit, charm and loving personality. We also have two dogs, Gus and Phoebe, who keep us busy and entertained.”

“My hobbies and interests include technology, music, video games and tabletop role-playing games (i.e., Dungeons and Dragons). I play the saxophone and performed with a variety of groups during high school and college. I also play in a weekly gaming group that consists of other current/former KWC faculty and their spouses.”

Who has been a mentor to you, and how did they help you?
“My parents have always been incredibly supporting of all my goals, and their support has helped immensely. My undergraduate advisor, Dr. Adrian Gentle, also had a profound impact on my career path. His mentorship and support showed me what kind of impact a professor can have on a person and inspired me to continue my education into graduate school to become a professor myself. We continue to stay in touch and that experience has modeled how I approach my job to this day.”