Texas A&M University mathematician and 2002 applied math graduate Heather Ramsey has been selected to receive one of two 2020 John J. Koldus III Faculty and Staff Achievement Awards, presented annually by the Texas A&M Division of Student Affairs in recognition of deserving individuals for their strong interest in overall student development and success.
Named in tribute to legendary Vice President Emeritus for Student Services Dr. John J. Koldus III, the first and longest-serving Vice President for Student Affairs at Texas A&M from 1973 to 1993, the annual award is bestowed upon outstanding faculty or staff members who, like Koldus, have gone beyond occupational requirements to improve and enhance the broader student experience at Texas A&M through their guidance, leadership, personal interest and commitment.
Ramsey, an instructional assistant professor of mathematics and lead undergraduate advisor in the Texas A&M Department of Mathematics, was celebrated along with fellow Koldus Award recipient Shayla Rivera ’83 from Texas A&M Engineering Academics and Student Affairs as well as other current honorees as part of the 2020 Division of Student Affairs Award Ceremony, held May 20 via Zoom. Both will receive a framed plaque and the opportunity to designate a $1,000 honorarium to a Texas A&M student organization or student activity.
“Professor Ramsey is the personification of a caring, patient, supportive, extremely thoughtful and experienced advisor and educator,” said Texas A&M mathematician Dr. Paulo Lima-Filho, assistant provost for undergraduate studies and director of the Texas A&M Math Learning Center. “She embraces her teaching, advising and service missions with a dedication and thoughtfulness that is rather unique, demonstrating that STEM education can be paired with a nurturing and uplifting learning environment.”
A member of the Texas A&M faculty since 2004, Ramsey initially joined Texas A&M Mathematics as a lecturer after earning both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics from Texas A&M in 2002 and 2004, respectively. She received subsequent promotions to senior lecturer in 2009 and instructional assistant professor in 2014 and also served brief stints as an instructor at Blinn College (2011-2012) and Copper Mountain College (2010-2011) in California.
During the past decade and a half, Ramsey has taught various freshman-level courses and many of the math major courses associated with the actuarial science program. She began serving as an academic advisor for all incoming freshmen and transfer math majors in 2009, and since 2017, she also has been the evaluator of course equivalences for all Texas A&M transfer students who have taken mathematics courses at other institutions. In the latter capacity, she has reviewed more than 400 syllabi to determine proper comparisons — a task her nominator and longtime Texas A&M mathematician Dr. Harold P. Boas notes requires thoroughness, fairness and consistency.
“In view of her reputation for honesty, integrity and sincerity, Professor Ramsey is in demand when decisions need to be made that require careful thought and good judgment,” added Boas, a 2012 Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence. “Integrity is a core value she actively promotes.”
As but one example, Boas recounted Ramsey’s time at Copper Mountain College, where she taught during the 2010-2011 academic year while her husband was stationed in California. Using her knowledge of and experience with the Texas A&M Honor Council, she championed efforts to develop a similar body there.
Since 2012, Ramsey has served as coordinator and lead advisor for Texas A&M Mathematics’ actuarial science program, a role in which she revised the curriculum for an existing program course, Math 419, and created a new one, Math 420. She also pushed for changes to the frequency of course offerings within the program to allow students more flexibility in designing their degree plans and preparing for actuarial exams. From 2012 to 2015, she was the faculty advisor for the Aggie Actuaries student organization, where she helped facilitate weekly campus visits from actuarial firms, building invaluable relationships that have led to countless job offers for Texas A&M students. A two-time Texas A&M University System Student Led Award for Teaching Excellence (SLATE) recipient in both 2008 and 2010, Ramsey also has been recognized by her department with respective outstanding teaching and service awards in 2008 and 2013.
Regardless of whether she teaches small, upper-level courses or giant classes of 300-plus students, Professor Ramsey pours herself into her classes and her students, and they love her,” said Dr. Yvette Hester, longtime Texas A&M mathematician and associate director of the Texas A&M Academic Success Center. “Her mentorship, dedication and excellent teaching has had a major positive impact on our students and faculty alike, and she excels on many fronts above and beyond classroom excellence. She is a highly valued member of the Texas A&M Mathematics faculty who is always willing to step forward and help.”
Beyond her advising and teaching responsibilities, Ramsey has an impressive record of service to her department, college, university and broader community. She volunteers each year at Aggieland Saturday, speaking to middle and high school students and their parents about majoring in mathematics and the associated career possibilities. She also has participated in various educational outreach programs, including the annual Texas A&M High School Mathematics Contest and Summer Educational Enrichment in Math (SEE-Math) Program. Her current appointments include serving as an elected member of the Texas A&M Faculty Senate Executive Committee and Academic Affairs Committee. In addition to both the undergraduate studies and scholarship committees in Texas A&M Mathematics, she serves on the College of Science Undergraduate Programs Committee, where she helps evaluate all No Grade requests from students who have encountered academic setbacks due to extraordinary life circumstances.
“Deciding when a student deserves a second chance to overcome hardship is a responsibility that demands both compassion and prudent judgment,” Boas said. “Through her extensive advising and teaching experiences, Professor Ramsey has a comprehensive understanding of the needs of students. Through her engagement in numerous university committees, she has opportunities to mold university policies to promote student welfare. Professor Ramsey is loyal to her students, to Texas A&M University and to her principles. Her passion is to inspire, educate and promote the success of students.
“Whenever Professor Ramsey sees an unmet need, she acts. She spends countless hours outside the classroom to help students, both with mathematics and with challenges in their personal lives. She provides guidance, not just on course selection but also on career options, resources available on campus, study skills, stress management and much more. She has devoted her career to fostering student success.”
For more information about the Koldus Award and other annual awards presented by the Division of Student Affairs, visit the DSA website.