Inside USD

A Wealth of Experience: Dwight Bean

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Inside USD caught up with four dedicated, long-serving faculty members from across campus who have seen the University of San Diego change and grow throughout their time teaching. Together, these four faculty comprise over 150 years of teaching experience at USD, and have many insights, stories, and pieces of wisdom to share.

Dwight Bean, PhD, is professor of Mathematics and Computer Science. He has been a member of the faculty since 1972 and played a role in introducing the Computer Science major at USD.  Most recently he has taught Investigations in Modern Mathematics, Linear Algebra, Calculus and Topology.  His current research is in voting theory.

Dr. Bean is the first profile in this series.

Walking into Dwight Bean’s office, it is impossible to miss the bicycle parked right outside his door. “When I first got here, I was appalled to see that [USD] charged us for parking. Eleven dollars a year!” Dr. Bean laughs, gesturing to his bike. “It was too much! That’s when I started riding my bike to work every day.”

That was 42 years ago for Dr. Bean, a math professor who began teaching at the University of San Diego in the spring of 1972. Currently teaching math to non-majors, Dr. Bean also influenced the creation of the computer science program at USD almost a decade after his arrival. “In 1980 I was on a committee to buy a mainframe computer,” Dr. Bean recalls. “And it was like $50,000 or so, and I remember the disc drives were these huge things, and they were seven megabytes, which is enough to hold about one picture!”

Times have certainly changed since then, especially in the computer sciences, a field that constantly grows and evolves every day. “Computer-wise, [the change] is just staggering,” says Dr. Bean. “There’s been exponential growth in memory, in the speed of computers. Things were really primitive when I started.”

Though Dr. Bean no longer teaches computer science, he is proud of his role in starting up USD’s computer science major. “Whenever I hear of a student who has made it out in the world successfully, that always cheers me up, too,” he adds.

Over the years, Dr. Bean has watched USD change and grow, and his appreciation for teaching remains as strong as ever.  Though many programs now incorporate more research into curriculum, Dr. Bean loves USD’s foundation as a teaching-based school. “In math, the things that I’m teaching are 300 or 400 years old,” he explains. “So I really feel that sticking to that basis of teaching over research better informs my work in the classroom.”

After over forty years of teaching at USD, Dr. Bean attributes some of his success to maintaining a good balance between his work and his personal life. “There’s a lot of freedom in this job, which I really appreciate. I have summers off, and Intersession off, so I can have time to do research,” he says. “And I just made time for my family. That’s my number one priority.”

Dr. Bean will phase into retirement starting next year, giving him more time to be with his family, including his young granddaughter. In the meantime, Dr. Bean continues to happily bike to his classes at USD, just as he did over forty years ago.

– Kristen Darling ‘15

Photos by Chris Keeney

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