CHAPEL HILL—Oct. 11, 2012 - Harold B. Reiter, professor of mathematics at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, received the Award for Excellence in Public Service today from the Board of Governors of the 17-campus University of North Carolina. The award, presented during the Board’s regular October meeting, was established in 2007 to encourage, identify, recognize, and reward distinguished public service and outreach by faculty across the University. The 2012 award carries a $7,500 cash prize and was presented by UNC President Tom Ross and Public Service Award Committee member Ed McMahan of Charlotte.
Reiter joined the UNC Charlotte faculty in 1972 and over the past 40 years has made it his personal mission to enhance and advance the field of mathematics education. Instead of limiting his efforts to teaching at the college level, he has been deeply involved as a community volunteer in providing math enrichment opportunities for gifted children of all ages.
Over the years, Reiter has tutored and mentored dozens of youngsters exceptionally gifted in mathematics and opened the door for them to be able to enroll in college-level courses at UNC Charlotte. Many have gone on to receive doctorates in mathematics and are on university faculties. He is described as a master at providing students with challenging problems that make them think, that motivate them to sharpen their math and problem-solving skills, and that build their confidence in their own abilities and potential.
No one has worked harder to get the general public to actually enjoy math. Reiter has helped create math clubs and math competitions for every age group. He has been deeply involved at the local, state, and national levels in the MATHCOUNTS program sponsored by the National Society of Professional Engineers. MATHCOUNTS encourages middle-school students to think critically, develop problem-solving skills, and pursue STEM careers. For the past decade, he also has served as state director for American Mathematical Competitions—the nation’s oldest and most prestigious math competition program for middle and high school students.
In Mecklenburg County, Reiter founded the Charlotte Math Club to provide math competition experiences for students in grades 7-10. Using that same model, he later organized the Mecklenburg Mathematics Club for students in grades 4-6. There are multiple chapters throughout the county. He also founded the Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival, which brings middle-school girls from across the state to UNC Charlotte for a day of working math puzzles and programs in a fun atmosphere.
"When UNC Charlotte was named a community engaged university by the Carnegie Foundation, the work of faculty like Harold Reiter was the reason why. His dedication and creativity in fostering a love of mathematics in children in our community and across the state is unparalleled. We are proud that Harold is the second member of the UNC Charlotte College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to receive this honor," said UNC Charlotte Provost Joan Lorden.
Reiter has conducted countless workshops for mathematics competition coaches and K-12 mathematics teachers and attracted grant support to establish the Charlotte Teachers’ Circle. This group meets on a monthly basis and provides opportunities for teachers to work and learn together in a collaborative setting. He also conceived and created the Carolina Panthers Number Crunch math competition. Sponsored by the Carolina Panthers, the competition uses football variables to challenge students in physics, geometry, and other problem-solving disciplines. It is the only program of its kind in the National Football League.
Reiter holds an undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University and earned master’s and doctoral degrees from Clemson University.
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