Dr. John Kirchmeyer
Teaching Area(s): Computer Science
I worked on airplane computers before I earned my bachelor’s degree, and have always been interested in computing. In graduate school I was studying mathematics and used a computer program written by my advisor's wife to conduct my research, but had to modify it and write other programs to fit my research needs. Following my doctoral degree, I started working at Mount Union in 1978 as an assistant professor of mathematics. My journey has taken several turns – I’ve taught in the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems, transitioned to the director of the computer center, back to full-time classroom teaching, back to serving as the director of computer information services and then finally teaching full-time in the classroom again. So I guess you could say I’m a mathematician disguised as a computer scientist who also appreciates the administrative side of an institution. I’ve worked here for 35 years, and I’ve never regretted it. In all honesty, I’ve never even found another place where I would think about going.
When I interviewed for the mathematics position, I found Dr. Bill Markley, the chair of the Department of Mathematics, and his wife Pat so friendly, that I told myself, “I have to check this place out. If these are the types of people who work at Mount Union, I want to work there too.” The rest is history. I love working at Mount Union, love the people I work with, love what I do and love passing on to students my enthusiasm for learning and discovering.
Finding a Career You Love
I tell everyone I meet to take lots of different classes, explore different majors and try new things. Don’t stop searching until you find something you love. And, don’t pick a career because it will make you the most money or because it’s what your parents want for you. Find a career that you are passionate about, one where you go to work every day and look forward to the experience. That’s what teaching is like for me – and I preach what I live!
I've been in two different academic departments, moved from faculty to administrator to faculty to administrator to faculty and been part of several building renovations, so I hold the record for the most office moves and the most buildings. I've moved from one office space to another 11 times in five different buildings!
Approach to Teaching
My approach to teaching is very different now than it was in the early years. Students don’t take as many notes in class as before because I try to make all of that information accessible to them online. I either do a demonstration in class and the students participate, we discuss topics as a group or students are teaching each other. If you’re looking down at your computer or taking notes on a piece of paper, you’re not fully paying attention. I have yet to meet a student whom I can’t learn something from – or anyone for that matter.
I'm interested in most areas of computing and mathematics, but current activities include further development of ISETL (software for learning and teaching mathematics used in at least 35 countries), web database applications and mobile phone applications.
The facilities are wonderful and the computers are great, so I have everything I need to get my job done. Yet the real reason why I’ve stayed here for 35 years is because I enjoy what I do and the people. I love everyone here. They care about everyone around them. I really do bleed purple.
Learning from Students
I am always learning new ways to approach problems, both in mathematics and computer science, from students. Even if I’ve been solving a problem in a specific way and I see how students are solving problems in a different and/or more effective way, I will try and use their approach. Everyone is a role model to everyone in some way.
My favorite building is Chapman Hall. It has so much character.
I’m retiring at the end of this academic year, and even though I’m retiring, you won’t be able to get rid of me! I’m going to teach a web database programming course, visit my colleagues and students and eat lunch in the Kresge Dining Commons with my wife. If one thing is for sure, it’s that I won’t miss all the meetings. How do we guide and help students if we’re always in meetings?
B.A., Mathematics, Carthage College, 1972
M.S., Mathematics, Northwestern University, 1974
Ph.D., Mathematics, Northwestern University, 1978
I tell everyone I meet to take lots of different classes, explore different majors and try new things. Don’t stop searching until you find something you love. Find a career that you are passionate about, one where you go to work every day and look forward to the experience.
- Favorite Quote
- “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Phillippians 4:6-7
- Usual Bedtime
- How about I tell you what time I get up in the morning? It’s sometime between 4 and 5 a.m., waking up at 5:30 a.m. is like sleeping in to me. I can’t even tell you how many decades it’s been since I’ve set an alarm clock. I rarely take naps either.
- Places to Visit
- Rocky Mountains, Upper Mississippi River and exploring places my wife and I have never been before
- Favorite Movie
- The African Queen with Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn
- Favorite Book
- It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership by Colin Powell and Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume I
- Hobbies and Interests
- Spoiling my grandkids, lunch with my wife, snow skiing, golf, cabinet making
- Apple or Android
- I might switch one day, but right now I’m team iPhone.
- Surprising Fact
- I talk a lot, so I’m pretty sure everyone knows everything about me. But, if I had to say something, it’d be that I’ve been to 45 states. Only have five more on my bucket list!