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Paul LaVergne, PhD
Professor Paul LaVergne climbs mountains. He wants his students to ascend to even loftier heights.
Dr. LaVergne, chair of Vaughn College's arts and sciences department, is an accomplished mountaineer. He's an Adirondack 46er, meaning he's scaled all 46 peaks of the upstate mountain range, and has set his sights on 100 more in New England.
He loves his engagements with nature as much as his engagements with students.
"I've learned you can learn a lot of calculus from reading a topographical map," Dr. LaVergne says kiddingly. "I like teaching, and my students know that I like teaching."
Dr. LaVergne has an undergraduate degree in computer science, two master's degrees in mathematics and a PhD in applied math from Stony Brook University. A former executive at the computer giant Sperry Corp., he recognizes how a solid arts-and-sciences foundation can inspire students, even at a school such as Vaughn, whose curriculum is focused on aviation, engineering and management.
"I was surprised when I worked at Sperry how many engineers couldn't string two sentences together," Dr. LaVergne says. "I think it's important for students to write well and think well. If you can, people take notice."
Dr. LaVergne is among the most recognizable personalities on campus. As chair of the Academic Program Review Committee, he is supervising a re-evaluation of the College's degree programs. All programs are being re-evalauted for their quality, mission, financial viability and marketability.
A report is expected by late February 2011.
"It's a pretty big responsibiity," Dr. LaVergne says of the chairmanship. "When we make changes we have to get it right because it impacts every student.
"But there are a lot of people helping; a lot of people doing a great job. The amount of help you have here is unbelievable."
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