York faculty member honored with Teresa Cohen Mathematics Service Award

Joan Smeltzer receives award for her work with stduents and mathematics
Teresa Cohen Award 2017

Yuzi Zheng, head of the department of mathematics at University Park, left, presents the Teresa Cohen Mathematics Service Award for 2017 to Joan Smeltzer, instructor  in mathematics at Penn State York. This is a University-wide award with two recipients, one at University Park and one at a Commonwealth Campus. 

Credit: Tracey Smeltzer

Joan Smeltzer, instructor in mathematics at Penn State York, has been named the recipient of the Teresa Cohen Mathematics Service Award for 2017.  This is a University-wide award with two recipients, one at University Park and one at a Commonwealth Campus.  Smeltzer received the award during a ceremony in April.

The Teresa Cohen Award was established by members of the mathematics department at Penn State in 1998, in honor of faculty member Teresa Cohen, who served the University from 1920-62.  This award recognizes mathematics faculty members for their outstanding service to the department, and to students enrolled in its courses.  

“Joan is never too busy to stop and have a conversation with a student or a colleague about any issue, or just to say hello. From her years of pedagogical experience she has developed an ability to anticipate issues that students will have with various topics in her class,” said Robert E. Farrell, director of academic affairs at Penn State York. “Her absolute commitment to the educational mission of Penn State has allowed her to cultivate lasting and trusting relationships with the students whom we serve,” he said.

Smeltzer is the second Penn State York faculty member to be honored with this prestigious award.  In 1992, John W. Dawson. professor emeritus of mathematics, was recognized for his work.

She joined the Penn State faculty in 1994. Smeltzer’s teaching focus is developmental math students, and she teaches several different algebra courses to that student population both in face-to-face classes and online.  

Farrell went on to share that Smeltzer has also embraced technology, allowing her to deliver a quality online learning experience to those students who prefer the distance education format.  

“Succinctly,” said Farrell, “Joan is an outstanding mathematics instructor and more than deserving of the very appropriate recognition that she has received.”

In addition to her teaching role, Smeltzer served as the campus assistant registrar from 1998-2016, where her responsibilities included helping to build and implement semester course schedules and final exam schedules.

She earned a bachelor of science in meteorology from Penn State in 1983, and a master of science in mathematics from Shippensburg University in 1994. She is a member of the Mathematical Association of America and the American Meteorological Society.

Smeltzer also received a grant from the Schreyer Institute to fund participation in the 2017 Lilly Conference on College and University Teaching held earlier in June.

Matriarch of a real Penn State family, Smeltzer resides in York, Pennsylvania, with her husband, Tracey, and they have three children, two of whom are Penn State students.