Robertson Wiens Mathematics Bursary

UVic will always have a special place in the hearts of Howard Robertson and Joanne Wiens. It is not only where they met during Statistics 253 more than 42 years ago, but a place they credit for teaching them to think and solve any problem that came their way.

"People sometimes have asked, 'What can you do with a math degree anyway?'" says Joanne. "We respond, 'Whatever you want!'"

Howard, who was born in Montreal, came to the University of Victoria in 1977. He studied both chemistiy and mathematics, earning a BSc with a double major in both fields in 1981. Joanne, originally from Prince George, graduated with a BSc in mathematics in 1980. Her first job was with the BC Water Investigations Branch, using computer modelling to optimize water in the Okanagan watersheds to support human consumption and irrigation.

After marrying in 1985, the couple moved to Calgary and then Ontario, where Joanne continued to work as a computer programmer. Howard decided to switch career directions and begin teaching. He earned his BEd from Western University and taught high school in Ontario for several years before spending a year teaching at a Canadian private school in Cambridge, England.

After returning to Canada, the couple settled in Calgary. Howard spent the next 24 years working as a teacher, classroom consultant, teacher recruiter and school administrator with the Calgary School District. He earned his MEd from the University of Portland in 2000.

Joanne worked as a business analyst and information management consultant for several companies in Calgary. Her work took her to places like Mexico City, Washington, DC and Yellowknife for projects. She finished her career working with non-profits in Calgary and the Comox Valley where the couple lives now.

Throughout their careers, Joanne and Howard say they have relied on the mathematical thinking approach they learned at UVic. "Even in retirement those skills and approaches continue to be helpful as we pursue our various pastimes and contribute to the community," says Howard.

Through the Robertson Wiens Mathematics Bursary, Joanne and Howard hope to support other students pursuing their mathematics degrees. "We found our time at UVic to be tremendously important in opening the door to a rich personal and professional life," says Howard, "We hope to help those same doors open for others." 

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