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Longtime MAA Member Howard Lewis Penn Dies Suddenly

November 25, 2009

Longtime MAA member Howard Lewis Penn, who had taught at the U.S. Naval Academy since 1973, died of a heart attack in late November 2009.

Penn was a frequent participant in and speaker at the Joint Mathematics Meetings and at MathFest, and he was scheduled to give a talk at the JMM in San Francisco in January 2010.

Howard L. Penn had a longstanding interest in the use of computer graphics in the teaching of mathematics and had authored papers on the subject. Other interests included Hardy spaces in several variables. In the early 1990s he served as co-editor of the Software Reviews section of the College Mathematics Journal. Penn also had served on the MAA's Committee on Computers in Mathematics Education and as chair of the MAA's Council on Meetings and Professional Development.

Penn was active in the MAA's Maryland-District of Columbia-Virginia Section, having held several positions, including chairman. He received the MAA's Certificate of Meritorious Service in 1995. In addition, Penn worked summers as a computer programmer and systems analyst for the National Science Foundation. More recently, Penn took an interest in calculus reform and in the mathematics of sports and games. He helped develop posters on the theme of mathematics and sports for Math Awareness Month in April 2010.

Capt. Matt Klunder, Commandant of Midshipmen at the Academy, indicated that Penn was a "gifted and devoted teacher and mentor" who had received the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service award in 2002 for distinguished work in the Mathematics Department. "We have all lost a true friend, colleague, and supporter of the Naval Academy," Klunder said. "Please continue to keep Professor Penn, his family, and friends in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult healing period."

Penn received his Bachelor's degree from Indiana University in 1968; a Master's in 1969; and a Ph.D. in 1973 from the University of Michigan. He became a full professor at the Academy in 1987. Howard Lewis Penn, who was also an amateur photographer, claimed that he used his full name so as not to be confused with two other people identified as "Howard L." in the Combined Membership List.

Start Date: 
Wednesday, November 25, 2009