Dr. J. Harley Weston, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics and Statistics, inducted into Canadian Mathematical Society Class of Fellows

By Jon Tewksbury Posted: March 4, 2019 5:10 p.m.

Dr. Harley Weston and Dr. Douglas Farenick at the CMS Winter Meeting Banquet in Vancouver
Dr. Harley Weston and Dr. Douglas Farenick at the CMS Winter Meeting Banquet in Vancouver Photo by Douglas Farenick

University of Regina Professor Emeritus Dr. J. Harley Weston was one of 49 Canadian mathematicians inducted into the Canadian Mathematical Society’s inaugural Class of Fellows at the CMS Winter Meeting Banquet in Vancouver last December. The Fellows Program recognizes Canadian mathematicians who have made significant contributions to mathematical research, teaching, and exposition. A longtime contributor to and supporter of the U of R, Weston is also the first CMS Fellow hailing from Saskatchewan.

Dr. Douglas Farenick, U of R professor of Mathematics and Statistics and Dean of the Faculty of Science, was on hand to witness Weston’s induction.

“Harley is a soft-spoken, reflective person with a tremendous desire to empower people with mathematical competency,” said Farenick, “and, where possible, to show people the elegance inherent in mathematical structures and in logical reasoning.”

Prior to retirement, Weston spent almost 40 years in the classroom, sharing his passion about the beauty and elegance of mathematics with thousands of students. Over his renowned career, Weston has received several honours in recognition for his outstanding teaching and community service, including the CMS 2008 Adrien Pouliot Award for his outstanding contributions to mathematics education at the local, regional, and national levels, as well as being named co-recipient of the Pacific Institute of Mathematical Sciences (PIMS) Education Prize. He was the recipient of the University of Regina Alumni Association Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 1992.

Armed with an undergraduate degree from McMaster University and a Masters and PhD from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, Weston and his wife Marianne moved to Regina where he taught in the U of R’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics until his retirement in 2005.

Weston was also a key figure in the development of the University of Regina’s Math Central website, a large undertaking that saw the introduction of web-based internet services designed for teachers and students of mathematics at the K-12 level. Created in 1995 and sponsored by the U of R and Imperial Oil, it was one of the first mathematics education websites in existence – receiving upwards of 120,000 visits per day – and has been maintained by U of R faculty and students ever since, earning many awards along the way.

“Harley holds special appreciation for the work of teachers in the K-12 system, and he has spent a good part of his professional life working in support of teachers,” said Farenick. “The online Math Central resource centre is just one legacy of Harley's efforts with teachers.

Math on the Move, another of his post-retirement initiatives, saw Weston travel to communities across Saskatchewan engaging Indigenous students in mathematics through the activity-based program.

Farenick captures the essence of the mathematician: “In short, Harley is a great person, as well as a great mathematics educator.