SOCORRO, N.M., July 30, 1999 -- Clyde M. Dubbs, a longtime mathematics professor at New Mexico Tech, recently retired from teaching at the state-supported research university.
Dubbs, who probably is best remembered by thousands of former Tech students for his trademark vandyke beard and his personable teaching style, established a reputation as a teacher, first and foremost--an educator who always valued teaching students above teaching subject material.
After 32 years of teaching a wide range of math courses at New Mexico Tech, from freshman through graduate student level, Dubbs says he particularly enjoyed getting a chance to "bounce around" the various subfields of mathematics.
"I always took the students more seriously than I did the subject matter, though," Dubbs adds.
Dubbs first came to teach at New Mexico Tech at the start of the fall semester in 1967. He had previously been an instructor of mathematics at Wichita State University, his alma mater where he earned both his bachelor and master's degrees.
While he was still at Wichita State, a friend had suggested to Dubbs that he "test the employment waters" at a job fair being held in conjunction with an annual math society meeting in Houston.
"New Mexico Tech's was one of the most appealing job offers made to me at that meeting," he says, "so, I took it."
In addition, moving to the high desert country was not as much a cultural shock for Dubbs as it might have been for most Midwesterners since he had "learned to love the desert" when he was stationed in Fort Huachuca in southern Arizona.
Throughout his more than three decades of teaching math at New Mexico Tech, Dubbs says he cannot summarily categorize the particular style of teaching he has employed over the years.
"I've tried to anticipate where the difficulties are in the course material, have warned students about them, and then have helped them over the hurdles when they get there," he explains.
"My goal, more than anything, has always been to generate an enthusiasm for learning in my students," Dubbs continues. "I've always tried to show them where the value lies in what they're studying . . . and, also, where the joy is in it, as well."
Tech students through the years, Dubbs says, have all tended to be "very serious and well-motivated people" regardless of what particular era in which they may have attended the university.
"Lately, there's been a marked shift toward a proper balance in the makeup of the Tech student body which better reflects the various groups which are present in society as whole," he observes.
"This university has a well-established reputation for being tough," Dubbs maintains, "and the student who is looking for an easy time in college doesn't ever consider coming to New Mexico Tech."
Dubbs never considered himself one of the "tough" professors at Tech, but he does concede that some of the courses he taught may have been difficult for the average Tech student to fathom.
He relates, for instance, the tongue-in-cheek example of one student who, when filling out one of his course evaluations at the end of the semester, wrote that the best aspect of the class had been that, "The instructor really knows what he's talking about," while the worst aspect of the class had been that, "The instructor is the only one who knows what he's talking about."
In addition to his teaching duties, Dubbs served as chairman of Tech's mathematics department from 1991 to 1994 and for several years was faculty advisor to both the New Mexico Tech Math Club and to the local Beta chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon, the national mathematics honor society.
In 1989, Dubbs was named the "Outstanding College Teacher" by the New Mexico Academy of Science.
Now that he has retired from teaching, Dubbs says he and his wife, Susan, will maintain "a full social life" and will also "keep happy [in Albuquerque] by working on the yard and garden."
That, and logging over 100 miles a week on his bicycle.
As for "serious retirement plans," Dubbs says he has none, except to "enjoy life and keep busy. . . . That gives us plenty to do."