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Celebrating the journey and successes of Edwin Anderson and Steven Furino

By Lata Punetha

Two longstanding members of the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing (CEMC) - Edwin Anderson and Steven Furino have been named Honorary Members of the University of Waterloo at the 2023 Spring Convocation. The designation of Honorary Member of the University holds great distinction at the University and is reserved for individuals who have demonstrated exceptional dedication, made noteworthy contributions beyond the university, and brought credit to the institution.

Edwin Anderson, fondly known as Ed, is being honoured as an Honorary Member of the University in recognition of his remarkable journey and outstanding contributions to mathematics education. Ed's career in education began as a dedicated secondary school mathematics teacher in Wingham, ON, where he inspired students from 1956 to 1970. Ed's enduring impact on mathematics education began with a visionary idea that transformed into a groundbreaking initiative. In 1963, he, alongside a group of passionate secondary school math teachers and with the support of the University of Waterloo's Ken Fryer and Ralph Stanton, founded the Junior Mathematics Contest (JMC). Starting as a competition aimed at secondary school students, the JMC aimed to prepare them for senior-level mathematics problem-solving while offering a fun and engaging extracurricular activity. Ed's leadership and determination led to significant growth, with approximately 7000 Ontario students participating in the JMC by 1965. Recognizing the potential of bringing together top contestants from across Canada, Ed advocated for a weeklong mathematics workshop at the Waterloo campus, fostering the exchange of ideas among talented young mathematicians. Under Ed's guidance, the JMC quickly evolved into an international event, attracting over 24 000 contestants from Canada, Germany, and Israel by 1969.

In 1970, he joined the University of Waterloo as a lecturer in the Faculty of Mathematics, encouraging a large number of students to pursue mathematics education as a career. Ed played a pivotal role in expanding mathematics contests and in the growth of the CEMC, which now reaches over 250 000 registrants annually from more than 80 countries via mathematics and computing contests. Even after his retirement in 1991, Ed remained actively involved with the CEMC through outreach activities, including contest assistance, student workshops, and providing strategic direction.

Throughout his 20-year tenure at Waterloo, Ed's teaching prowess and ability to engage students inspired numerous students to consider pursuing mathematics education as a career. Furthermore, his instrumental role in nurturing the Mathematics/Teaching Option undergraduate program fostered strong connections between the Faculty of Mathematics and schools worldwide, contributing to their shared success.

Steven (Steve) Furino's journey is one of exceptional responsibility and transformative impact, making him a deserving recipient of the esteemed Honorary Member of the University award. An accomplished educator, Steve's path in teaching began in Lesotho, where he shared his passion for knowledge after completing his BA in Philosophy. His allegiance to educational excellence led him to pursue an MMath and PhD in Mathematics from the University of Waterloo, where he embarked on a career that left an indelible mark on both students and colleagues. Recognized for his exceptional teaching abilities, Steve received the University's Distinguished Teaching Award in 1997, a testament to his resolve to empower students and foster a love for learning.

Steve's invaluable contributions extended far beyond the confines of the classroom, as he became a driving force in educational innovation and accessibility. Embracing online education, he championed the development and teaching of the groundbreaking Master of Mathematics for Teachers program, opening doors for practicing secondary school teachers to pursue professional development. His vision and adaptability were further exemplified through the creation of the CEMC's suite of online courseware, which revolutionized learning opportunities for students and educators alike. Particularly during the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Steve's tireless efforts ensured seamless continuation of education through easily accessible and comprehensive online resources.

Steve's achievements span multiple areas, showcasing his passion for teaching and impact. His time teaching in Lesotho ignited a passion for expanding educational opportunities in underserved regions. As an early advocate for international work in CEMC (Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing), Steve fostered a partnership in The Gambia, setting the foundation for subsequent partnerships in Ghana, Rwanda, and Kenya. Through these collaborations, hundreds of thousands of students have benefited from enhanced mathematical education. Steve's influence extends beyond the campus community, leaving a profound impact worldwide. Additionally, his administrative roles as Associate Dean and Assistant Dean demonstrated his exceptional trustworthiness, respect, and analytical skills. Notably, Steve played a crucial role in implementing various new digital systems and processes at the University, showcasing his technical expertise. While known for his amiable personality, Steve also demonstrated his resolve when standing up for principles, addressing student discipline, and holding colleagues accountable. Despite retiring in 2020, he continues to serve as a trusted problem solver, sought after by many for wisdom and guidance.

We congratulate Ed and Steve on this phenomenal feat and extend our heartfelt gratitude to them for their determination, tireless effort, and invaluable support which have been instrumental in driving the CEMC’s and the University’s incredible success.