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Couch Honored with 2018 Rogers Community Service Award

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Dr. P.J. Couch, an assistant professor of mathematics in the College of Arts and Sciences at Lamar University, has been honored as the 2018 Julie & Ben Rogers Community Service Award recipient.

The ceremony took place December 13 on the 8th Floor of the Mary and John Gray Library, with Dr. James Marquart serving as Master of Ceremonies.

The Julie & Ben Rogers Community Service Award was established in 1979 to acknowledge the members of Lamar University’s faculty and staff who make a lasting impact on the Southeast Texas community through an outstanding record of service and volunteer work. The Rogers’ hope the award will contribute to the recognition of those who give their time and talents to the community and encourage others to volunteer. Each year four recipients, one each from Lamar University, LIT, Lamar State College - Port Arthur, and Lamar State College - Orange, are chosen. Since 1980, 89 awards have been presented.    

In his time teaching at Lamar University, Dr. Couch has displayed a passion for undergraduate research and the intellectual development of the University’s students and those in the Southeast Texas community.

Dr. Couch has been an active part of the Texas STEM Conference and Undergraduate Research Expo at Lamar University since its inaugural year in 2013. He has given his time reviewing abstract submissions, event coordination, and program execution. As a graduate student he supported Statfest in 2008 and the Lamar Mathematics Conference in 2009.

"I've had a great deal of help from a large number of people, and I've been very fortunate to have the opportunity and the support to help others" said Couch.

He is the associate director and a founding member of the Mathematical Puzzle Program (MaPP), a program which designs events to help students have fun through learning and using mathematics. The program emphasizes collaboration and communication, teaching middle and high school students both the necessity of knowledge, as well as teamwork, in the industry and academia. The event takes place on campuses across the country and abroad.

rogers-award-2018-2.jpgAs a pilot project for the MaPP High School Challenge, Dr. Couch began the Lamar Mathematical Puzzlehunt in 2015 which has been held every year since. He collaborated with Dr. Freddie Titus in hosting the MaPP Middle School Challenge allowing Lamar University to play host to 70 students from 5 high-schools in the Houston and Golden Triangle areas.

Off campus, Dr. Couch is a part of the Key Communicators initiative with Beaumont ISD. The program consists of local community members who work with elementary and secondary campuses to mentor students in campus-wide group sessions. In this capacity he has been a mentor at South Park Middle School where he organizes and hosts tutoring sessions. He has held this position since 2016 serving previously as a volunteer for the clinic.

Beyond just striving to improve the access to academic help in the local community, Dr. Couch has also been an active member of the Lamar University lead Greater South Park Neighborhoods Partnership since it was formed in 2015. The committee works to create a more prosperous future for the neighborhood by creating opportunity and meeting challenges. He helped to organize and volunteers at the Day in the Park events every year, and the Community Garden as often as he can.       

Other Lamar University recipients of the Rogers Award have been Dr. Freddie Titus, 2017, Brian Sattler, 2016, Dr. Kumer Das, 2015, Dr. Monica Harn, 2014, and Dr. Teresa Simpson, 2013.