| Dick Wood
Mathematics and Computer Science
THOSE WHO RANK mathematics with spiders and public
speaking on their “top-fears” list stand in awe of Dick Wood. The
son of a fireman and a homemaker, Wood has skillfully taught almost
course offered by the Seattle Pacific Mathematics Department. He
has served as department chair, trained teachers,
created programs — and shaped multitudes of students in the process.
he didn’t try to get out of it. The man with a Ph.D. in mathematics from the
University of Montana was hired three times by Seattle Pacific.
Wood first came to SPC in 1963, straight from teaching high school. After a few years, he
left to pursue graduate studies and take a visiting professorship at George Fox
College. He returned in 1968 to help establish the computer science program,
and then left for further training in numerical analysis, serving
Anderson College for a time. In 1984, Wood returned to Seattle Pacific to stay.
Born and raised in Long Beach, California,
Wood was the first in his family to attend college,
and he has seen countless changes in
SPU and higher education since his student
days. In the early ’60s, his office was in Beegle Hall, then a building for
the industrial arts. “Things were fairly primitive,” he says. “At first, we
didn’t have telephones in our offices, and
our desks were old U.S. Army surplus.” He and other faculty members drove to
Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood to use a computer. When Seattle Pacific installed
its first computer, it filled much of a large room in Demaray Hall.
in the 20th-century technology boom, Wood will devote his retirement to reading
and overseas travel. “I think I’ve been
blessed by God,” he says of his career. “God got
me into it, and God’s telling me it’s time to get
out of it.”
Q: As a professor, what have you learned from your students?
Wood: You have to expect the unexpected. What I think is going
on and what students
come up with don’t necessarily match.
Q: Over the years, what was the most unexpected
insight you gained into your field?
Wood: It has to be the change in the computer
from being a computational device to a communication device. Computers used to
up whole rooms, and in those days we thought
they were wonderful.
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