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Summer 2003 | Volume 26, Number 3 | Faculty
Dick Wood
Mathematics and Computer Science

THOSE WHO RANK mathematics with spiders and public speaking on their “top-fears” list stand in awe of Dick Wood. The son of a fireman and a homemaker, Wood has skillfully taught almost every course offered by the Seattle Pacific Mathematics Department. He has served as department chair, trained teachers, created programs — and shaped multitudes of students in the process.

Not that he didn’t try to get out of it. The man with a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Montana was hired three times by Seattle Pacific.

Wood first came to SPC in 1963, straight from teaching high school. After a few years, he left to pursue graduate studies and take a visiting professorship at George Fox College. He returned in 1968 to help establish the computer science program, and then left for further training in numerical analysis, serving Anderson College for a time. In 1984, Wood returned to Seattle Pacific to stay.

Born and raised in Long Beach, California, Wood was the first in his family to attend college, and he has seen countless changes in SPU and higher education since his student days. In the early ’60s, his office was in Beegle Hall, then a building for the industrial arts. “Things were fairly primitive,” he says. “At first, we didn’t have telephones in our offices, and our desks were old U.S. Army surplus.” He and other faculty members drove to Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood to use a computer. When Seattle Pacific installed its first computer, it filled much of a large room in Demaray Hall.

A participant in the 20th-century technology boom, Wood will devote his retirement to reading and overseas travel. “I think I’ve been blessed by God,” he says of his career. “God got me into it, and God’s telling me it’s time to get out of it.”

Q: As a professor, what have you learned from your students?
Wood: You have to expect the unexpected. What I think is going on and what students come up with don’t necessarily match.

Q: Over the years, what was the most unexpected insight you gained into your field?
Wood: It has to be the change in the computer from being a computational device to a communication device. Computers used to fill up whole rooms, and in those days we thought they were wonderful.

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