Mathematics Professor Devoted to Preparing Students for Class, Life
Aug. 19, 2015
Dr. Mieczyslaw Dabkowski teaches topology, mathematical analysis and abstract algebra, with a research focus on knot theory, in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
When Dr. Mieczyslaw Dabkowski steps into a classroom at UT Dallas, he may be teaching theoretical mathematics, but he connects with students on a very practical level.
Dabkowski, associate professor of mathematical sciences, received the President’s Outstanding Teaching Award at the spring Honors Convocation for his dedication to helping students grasp complex mathematical concepts.
“His office hours are round the clock, he is willing to meet with students on the weekends, and he checks his email continuously,” a student’s nomination letter stated. “His concern for his students extends beyond his concern for our performance in his class; he cares for us on a personal level and reaches out to us when our performance is not what we are capable of.
“Dr. Dabkowski certainly pushes me to be the best student and the best mathematician I can be; however, I also feel that I am a better person for knowing him. He exemplifies kindness, patience and dedication.”
Originally from Poland, Dabkowski earned his PhD at George Washington University and has been with UT Dallas since 2003. He teaches topology, mathematical analysis and abstract algebra, with a research focus on knot theory, in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
“Mathematical knots are where algebra and geometry get together. I just think the three-dimensional manifolds and group theory are interesting to study,” Dabkowski said.
Dabkowski said he was grateful to students who nominated him, but added he was very surprised to receive the outstanding teacher award because his classroom philosophy, unlike his mathematical expertise, is not complex.
“I’m really grateful to those who appreciate what I do. But it’s a simple story: One needs to know a subject and be very well-prepared for class. With every single concept, I tell them what I see, how I understand it myself,” Dabkowski said.
Dr. Vladimir Dragovic, head of the Department of Mathematical Sciences, said one alumnus told him how Dabkowski would meet with students at Starbucks, even during weekends, and spend hours helping them and teaching them how to solve problems.
“Everyone from our math department would agree that this award is absolutely well-deserved,” Dragovic said. “Dr. Dabkowski is not only a devoted teacher, he is a talented researcher and highly educated mathematician. At the same time, he is a very humble person and good colleague.”
Dabkowski said he continues to give students time outside the classroom if they need extra help grasping the concepts. Last spring, he held review sessions for his mathematical analysis classes.
“The best way to learn mathematics is by doing it, by solving problems. Practicing is what’s needed,” Dabkowski said.
“If somebody is interested in learning something from me, my door’s always open, whether it’s during office hours or not.”