Della Fenster

As a Mathematics Professor at a small Liberal Arts institution, Della Fenster teaches across the mathematics curriculum as well as a course in “Life, Literature and Art” and a travel course to Vienna. Her daughter and two very active sons provide not only a critical counterbalance to the scholarly life but also daily doses of inspiration.

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August 6, 2008
Last Wednesday, I loaded my car with undergraduates from Romania, China and Singapore to catch our flight home from a mathematics conference in Michigan. A conference for undergraduates? Indeed. If you are in the over forty set, you know this opportunity simply did not exist back in the eighties when we earned our bachelors degrees. I went to class, I took tests, I occasionally mustered the courage to visit a faculty member during office hours. I rarely talked with faculty outside of class and I certainly did not spend a summer pursuing research with them.
July 3, 2008
"I was holding a yoga pose." That is the reason my eight-year-old son gave me one spring day when I asked how he scraped his elbow. He did not crash on his bike or fall on the basketball court. He fell out of his yoga pose. That is a sentence that would have never come out of my mouth as an eight-year-old. Yoga was close to voodoo in those days, particularly in Kentucky. But the voodoo images have long since gone by the wayside and yoga is not only part of my son's vocabulary but it is also part of his gym curriculum.
June 25, 2008
For most Americans, the months of June, July and August tend to conjure up images of sun, sand and water, preferably in large quantities. Backpacks find their way to the far corners of the closet, often with the final remains of last year's once-shiny school supplies still unpacked. Beach bags are loaded with towels, sun screen and books with simple plots that high school teachers would never consider positioning on their book shelves during the academic year.
June 18, 2008
Last Friday, an impromptu conversation in the mailroom at my University jolted my pulse into my aerobic zone. I might have even gone anaerobic, but I am not sure.
June 12, 2008
Sweaty eleven-year-old boys with freckles across their noses, Little League baseball games and ice cream in waffle cones mean the arrival of exactly one season. Summer. And it is here. My son's team, the Rays, finished eighth of eight in the Little League regular season and began the playoffs last Friday night. With the sudden death structure of the tournament we expected this season of baseball to end for him last weekend. Five days and three games later, his team is still alive.
June 5, 2008
June. Not the month bookended by May and July but a small, strong woman who runs marathons to raise money for the disease that took her brother from this planet while his hair was still blonde and his body still muscular. She doesn't run just any marathon either. She runs the New York or London Marathon and finishes in the top 20. She lives in the bustling center of London where she trains along the Thames and feasts on vegetarian fare, particularly good bread and cheese.
May 29, 2008
Let me clear up any misconception. I am a tenured faculty member at a celebrated liberal arts institution who will soon come up for promotion to full professor.
May 22, 2008
On a recent Saturday, right in the middle of our weekly cleaning spree, an acquaintance called to invite my eight-year-old son over to play. She also suggested that I come along and relax in the garden "while the boys play." "I'm sorry," I replied, "I'm leaving the country next Friday and I am trying to get things in order before I leave." As soon as the last syllable left my mouth I regretted it. TMI. (Too Much Information.) I knew it.
May 14, 2008
Although I am not a preacher, for the past dozen years or so I've spent my Mother's Day in a black robe. A mortarboard with a tassel hangs awkwardly on my head and about 700 other people around me have the same attire. We file in to music we all know by heart and we sit through speeches and names, endless names, until, at the end, the very end, a large portion of the group throw their mortarboards in the air. At that precise moment, the promise of a new beginning swells up in every person in attendance.
May 7, 2008
Last Monday night, my eight-year-old son and I took a night off from chapter books and indulged in a big stack of picture books. There, with the right side of my body pressed against the left side of his, with baseball sheets stretched over our legs and Jean Van Leeuwen's Papa and the Pioneer Quilt opened in front of us, I "found" the title of a chapter for a biography of a mathematician I am writing.
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