Professor Spotlight: Gregory Dungan


Photo by: James McCarley

Gregory Dungan, assistant professor of mathematics, has been heavily involved in student research and learning opportunities.

James McCarley, Co-Editor

For Gregory “Ivan” Dungan, assistant professor of mathematics, FMU was a pleasant change of pace from West Point.

“I got my first appointment at West Point,” Dungan said. “It was a fixed appointment for three years, and then they asked me to stay a fourth year.”

After receiving his bachelor’s at Florida State University (FSU), Dungan decided to attend the University of Connecticut for his Ph.D. to explore his career interests.

“I originally went to the Ph.D. program at the University of Connecticut,” Dungan said. “I had an advisor in undergrad that recommended the University of Connecticut because there was a guy there doing algebraic geometry that was very well-known. He ended up leaving the year I came.”

Despite the setback, Dungan decided to return to FSU to finish his Ph.D.

“In math, it’s a little hard to predict where you want to go unless you know about it already,” Dungan said. “I did find what I was interested in, but there was no one there. I went back to Florida State because there were a couple people there doing what I wanted to do.”

Dungan applied to a position at FMU due to the area and its size.

“I came from big schools,” Dungan said. “I always knew I wanted to go to a small school; it’s not as fun teaching those bigger classes. West Point ended up being 4,000 students. It was wonderful there, so that was a supporting reason to continue that effort when looking for another school.”

However, there were several obstacles in the application process.

“I still had one more year at West Point, and Mrs. McCormick, from the math department, sent me an email that the position had been filled, but they were still looking for an instructor,” Dungan said. “I wrote immediately. Within five minutes after sending the email I realized that, ‘Wait a minute, they mean in the fall.’”

That fall, another position in the math department opened up, and Dungan successfully applied for the third time.

Dungan explained how his previous work experience, particularly at West Point, affected his hiring experiences.

“When I was interviewing at jobs, this always came up, there was always a concern from my experience at West Point that, ‘Our students might not be like a cadet,’” Dungan said. “I had taught at Yukon, at FSU, and I had taught pretty advanced classes there. I had been acquainted with the usual student, the non-cadet. There is definitely a difference, but at the end of the day they were still students.”

Dungan was also extremely grateful for the opportunities at FMU to broaden his field and teach new classes.

“I have been very fortunate here,” Dungan said. “Dr. Fitzkee right away gave me things that I wanted to teach. I’m always looking for new classes to teach. Right now, I’m teaching artificial intelligence in honors. I wouldn’t have guessed that I’d be ever teaching that.”

While at FMU, Dungan has brought in numerous professionals from different industries to show students what they can achieve as well as create networking opportunities. Dungan wanted the experience to be beneficial for the students, so he tries to provide every opportunity for students and professionals to interact.

“This was one of the PEAK grants, and part of writing for that grant was not only bringing these professionals but have an informal dinner with them,” Dungan said. “The students can really have a conversation and dig into what it’s like in the professional world and what they can do to get into that world. I walked in with this idea that I wanted to start bringing in industry speakers to show students what math is doing out in the real world.”

Dungan has also taken advantage of the opportunity to further his research and collaborate with students on their undergraduate research.

“I continue my own personal research, but I really enjoy, in extension of teaching, undergraduate research,” Dungan said. “I’ve now had quite a few students who I have advised in research. Teaching is wonderful, and you get to do so much, but at some point, the class is over. Undergraduate research lets you take the students a further step, and maybe give them a taste of industry or academia beyond undergraduate research. Two students got a REAL grant to work with me during the summer.”

Dungan has enjoyed his time at FMU, particularly interacting with students outside of the classroom and joining in with the different activities FMU has to offer.

“I was pleasantly surprised with the student involvement,” Dungan said. “Being a part of the pumpkin patch, the boat races; being involved with the students on that level. I’m sure other schools are doing it, but FMU is definitely doing it.”

With the transition from West Point to FMU, Dungan said he was glad have less pressure so that he could focus on other things.

“I do recall the first thing I noticed was the breath of fresh air of the bureaucratic part,” Dungan said. “I definitely enjoyed not filling out forms for every little detail.”