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Senk Bids Farewell to MSU, Colleagues around the U.S.

Sharon Senk at her Retirement ReceptionSharon Senk, Professor and mathematics education faculty member in PRIME and the Mathematics Department, has officially retired from MSU. A reception was held on September 18th at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center on MSU’s campus to celebrate her long and productive career in mathematics education.

Attendees flocked to East Lansing from all over the state as well as many parts of the U.S., including Senk’s doctoral advisor from the University of Chicago, Zalman Usiskin, as well as her first MSU doctoral student, Alejandra Sorto, who is currently an Associate Professor at Texas State University. Others in attendance were many of Senk’s former and current graduate students, current and retired colleagues from many units across campus, family, and friends.

Vince Melfi, Director of PRIME and the Mathematics Education Doctoral Program, remarked on Senk’s career, as well as Sorto, who delighted the audience with stories of her MSU doctoral experiences. Senk publicly thanked all for their attendance, support and friendship over the years.

Sharon Senk began her career as a Peace Corps Volunteer in mathematics teacher training in Colombia in 1965 after she obtained her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Michigan. She taught secondary mathematics in Michigan and Massachusetts for a number of years. After obtaining her master’s degree in teaching mathematics from Wesleyan University, in 1983, Senk received her Ph.D. in Education from the University of Chicago. Senk was an Assistant Professor at Syracuse University for four years before returning to the University of Chicago as a Research Associate. She arrived at Michigan State University in 1989 as an Associate Professor, and became a full Professor in 1997. From 1987-2000, Senk also served as the Co-Director of the Secondary Component of the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project (UCSMP), a popular mathematics curriculum.

Usiskin and Senk at Reception
Zalman Usiskin and Sharon Senk


Over the years, Senk has directed or helped direct numerous research and development projects that have made a lasting impact on secondary mathematics education in the U.S. Some notable work includes TEDS-M: Teacher Education Development Study in Mathematics, Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching Algebra, Algebra Knowledge for Teaching, and the Preparing to Teach Algebra (PTA) project.

She has served as a consultant on a number of projects as well as on multiple advisory boards, reviewer/editor of textbooks, and journals and publications from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Senk is also the author of numerous journal articles and book chapters in mathematics education.

Sharon Senk will actually be working part-time this academic year while she wraps up the PTA project and continues to work with graduate students. She intends to travel, spend quality time in her many gardens, and to continue her academic work. We wish her all of the best in her retirement.

Alejandra Sorto presentation
Alejandra Sorto addressing Senk and reception attendees