POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI) – After more than three decades on the Idaho State University campus, a fixture in the Mathematics and Statistics Department is calling it a career.
At the end of June, Professor and College of Science and Engineering Associate Dean Robert Fisher will hang it up after 33 years as a Bengal and 47 years of teaching students. Fisher started his teaching career in 1975 while earning his Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
“I remember my assignment, two sections of the UMASS version of ISU’s MATH 1143,” Fisher said. “I also remember being the instructor of record for about 60 students. Since I was only 22 and taking nine credit hours of graduate-level mathematics, I was busy.”
After his time in Massachusetts, Fisher headed to the University of Oklahoma, where he served as a Visiting Assistant Professor and Assistant Professor of Mathematics. In 1989, the mountains of Idaho came calling, and Fisher joined the Bengal family.
“When I interviewed for a position at ISU in February 1989, I was impressed by the people in the Mathematics Department and their sense of integrity and the pride they had in ISU,” Fisher said. “I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of, and I accepted the offer without hesitation.”
As a researcher, Fisher has specialized in differential geometry, a branch of mathematics focusing on the geometry of smooth shapes. Over the course of his career, he published just over a dozen papers.
“Geometry - in all its complexity - has always been of interest to me,” Fisher said. “The fundamental measurements of length, area, and volume remain essential in how we understand the world around us.”
Fisher also helped lead the Mathematics and Statistics Department, spending 13 years as the chair. He’s also helped guide the College of Science and Engineering, serving as the Associate Dean since 2018.
“The administrative roles I took on were done so out of duty, first to my department and later to the college,” Fisher said. “Being an associate dean wasn’t something I planned on, but I was glad that Dean Snyder recognized that I could help him at the college level.”
“Dr. Fisher’s service as department chair was integral to the development of the Mathematics and Statistics Department, and I personally value the skills he has brought to the College of Science and Engineering as associate dean,” said Scott Snyder, Dean of the College of Science and Engineering.
While at ISU, Fisher has also been an enthusiastic proponent of the Early College program. Eligible high school students can earn both high school and college general education credits through the program. Some students can take enough credits to earn an associate degree before leaving high school.
“The six years I spent at the Park City Mathematics Institute working with high school teachers from around the entire country made me realize I can positively impact the quality of beginning calculus courses for high school students,” Fisher said. “High school teachers are eager to teach the subject and teach it well. My more than 20-year-long relationship with Early College teachers has helped me achieve my goal.”
“Bob has been a strong and collaborative researcher and has worked closely with regional high school teachers to deliver quality mathematics education as part of ISU's Early College Program,” Snyder said. “However, Dr. Fisher's biggest accomplishment may be the countless students he has educated over the years. Bob is an excellent teacher who has helped pave the way to better lives for the students in his classes.”
“Dr. Fisher had an enormous, positive impact on my ISU experience and career, said David Jeppesen, Director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and a former student of Fisher. “His passion for math and his incredible ability to help others learn is second to none. I will be forever grateful that I had the privilege to learn from Dr. Fisher and for the friendship he has extended to me.”
Fisher plans to continue his research projects and teach in an adjunct professor role at ISU in retirement. An avid guitarist, he hopes to make a return to performing around Pocatello. When asked about what he’ll miss about his career at ISU, Fisher summed it up succinctly.
“In short, I will miss everything,” Fisher said.