Frank R. Giordano (1942–2022) was honored last year with COMAP’s Doug Faires Lifetime Achievement Award, as “a truly inspirational leader and giant in the field of mathematical education and mathematical modeling." He served for 15 years as contest director for the Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM®), hence the relevance of publishing in this MCM issue tributes which show a more personal side and other aspects than in the remarks about his deserving the Faires Award.
In addition to his role with the MCM, Frank had been an officer in the US Army (retiring as a brigadier general), head of the Dept. of Mathematical Sciences at the US Military Academy, professor at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), project director for several major National Science Foundation grants devoted to modeling (including one to initiate a high school modeling contest, the HiMCM®), and co-author of a textbook on mathematical modeling that has gone through five editions.
We recently published a tribute to Frank with fond memories from several of his friends and colleagues in our UMAP Journal, some of the comments are included below. You can download the full tribute here.
“I remember the opening meeting of both groups sitting around a large table. After the meeting, Frank and I took a short walk together. He looked at me and he said that he could hardly believe what was happening. On his left was a mathematics educator from mainland China. And on his right was a director of the Kolmogorov special school for STEM education in Moscow. And he marveled at the fact that we were working together to better mathematics education for all students, as opposed to gaming how we might have to fight one another. He was practically beaming. That look of joy and amazement has always stayed with me.”
—Solomon A. Garfunkel
“Whenever I could find a reason, I would travel back to the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS): to serve as a Final Judge for the MCM/ICM, to visit with a cohort of future West Point mathematics faculty studying there, or to serve on a review board for the Mathematics Dept. at NPS. But regardless, seeing Frank and Judi was always the highlight of my visit. To say that Frank and Judi were always gracious hosts is the understatement of the century. I will always cherish my time with him. I will always miss Frank, and I will always be guided by what Frank (and Frank’s Dad) would do.”
“Most important to Frank was that students were learning how to improve the world by learning how to solve real-world problems, understand complex concepts, and work in teams. Between Frank’s work in academics and with the MCM, he directly impacted hundreds of thousands of students and faculty; yet Frank’s most endearing leadership skill was his one-on-one mentoring, performed equally well in the office or on the golf course. For those of us lucky enough to have had Frank as a mentor, we are forever grateful and blessed.”
“Other than my wife, no one has had a more profound and deeply meaningful influence on my life than Frank. I will remain grateful for all that he did for me, and I know that I am not alone in this regard. I believe that I am qualified to speak on behalf of the generation of officers who served with Frank while he was Chair: we loved him, and we are all thankful that he was a part of our lives. From all of us: Well done, P6! Be thou at peace.”