John Tynan — Mathematics

tynan-johnEvery class that Dr. John Tynan teaches starts the same way: with a joke.

“Mondays are OK jokes, Wednesdays are bad joke days and Fridays are good joke days,” he says. “The students in Tuesday-Thursday classes are lucky because they get to skip bad joke day.”

Dr. Tynan is personable, but there is nothing to kid about with the subjects he teaches. He has been teaching in the Mathematics and Computer Science Department since 2001. His favorite course is Abstract Algebra. For Dr. Tynan, the jokes serve a purpose. “They loosen the kids up, get them to laugh or pay attention—some of them actually look forward to my jokes. The routine is: I tell them a bad joke and then I ask if they have homework questions. It warms up the room.”

Hazel Brogdon ’12 (Chugiak, Alaska) recently graduated with a degree in Biochemistry and a minor in Math. She knew Dr. Tynan before she ever sat in one of his classes. “I met him through the Foster Parent Program,” she says. “He and Tracy (his wife) are my foster parents through softball. Their daughters (Fredley and Lynncoln) are like my little sisters.”

Coming from Alaska, she knew she would need a little extra support. “In between home games there is time for players to visit with their families and friends. My family is in Alaska so it was really nice that I had a family there supporting me. They even went to Florida over spring break this year to watch some of my games.”

Developing a strong relationship with the Tynan family has meant a great deal to her. “I never expected to have this home environment offered to me.”

For Dr. Tynan, that’s just a part of being a faculty member at a small, liberal arts college. “Our job is to get them ready for what that next step is,” he says.

Since he started at Marietta, there have been 60 students graduate with degrees in Mathematics. More than one-third of those students continued on to graduate school and nine are pursuing a doctorate degree. Of the nine, four are pursuing a doctorate in mathematics while the others focus on Computer Science, Industrial Engineering, Veterinary Medicine, Physics and Electrical Engineering. 

“What math teaches people is problem solving,” Dr. Tynan says. “The joke is: ‘What can you do with a major in math?’ The answer: ‘Anything.’ ”