SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The Evangel University community recently honored Dr. Don Tosh, the one faculty member remaining who has served under three of the school’s four presidents.
Tosh began teaching mathematics at Evangel in 1972, under EU’s second president, Dr. J. Robert Ashcroft. According to coworkers, he is “really smart,” and he started “really young” in what is now the Department of Natural & Applied Sciences.
On May 3, during Evangel’s 61st Annual Commencement ceremony, Dr. Tosh was presented with Evangel University’s top honor for faculty, the E.M. & Estella Clark Award for Excellence in Teaching, Scholarship and Service.
The 2019 Clark Award includes a cash grant.
The award was established in 1991 by Dan and Elaine Johnson, in recognition of her parents’ work on behalf of higher education in the Assemblies of God, as well as their special affection for Evangel University. Students, faculty and staff submit nominations, and a committee makes the final decision.
“I am honored and humbled to receive this prestigious award,” said Tosh. “I consider Evangel faculty to be incredibly gifted educators, so to be recognized in this way is not something I was expecting.”
Tosh says two highlights from his time at Evangel have been watching his only daughter, Christie, graduate with a degree in mathematics and then watching his grandson, Daniel, graduate summa cum laude this year with a degree in mathematics as well.
How it all began
Don Tosh is a native of Ontario, Canada. He graduated high school at 17 and then enrolled in college year-round, finishing his B.S. in mathematics in just two years. He completed his master’s in pure mathematics two years after that.
“I didn’t think it was that big of an accomplishment back then, but looking back, I guess it was,” said Tosh.
He was just 21 when he learned that Evangel was in need of another math teacher, so after a couple of phone calls and a flight to Springfield for a face-to-face interview, Tosh joined the faculty in August of 1972.
After three years, he returned to Canada to earn his doctorate in applied math (statistics) at the University of Alberta. He also taught at Acadia University. In 1987, Tosh moved his wife and daughter back to Springfield and has been a full-time member of the Evangel faculty ever since.
“I have had the pleasure of serving under three of Evangel’s four presidents,” said Dr. Tosh. Between former-president Ashcroft and now-president Taylor was the 40-year stint as president by Dr. Robert H. Spence (1974-2014).
“I am thankful that I have the opportunity to teach at an institution that integrates faith and learning. I believe that God has given me teaching ability, and I do not consider my position at Evangel a vocation so much as a ministry.”
“Don is an excellent teacher,” wrote Dianne Twigger, assistant professor of mathematics, and Erica Harris, assistant professor of biology, in their joint nomination of Tosh for this year’s Clark Award.
“We have had the pleasure of not only serving with him as a colleague, but also learning under him during our time as students at Evangel,” they continued. “He is knowledgeable and passionate about mathematics, and the mentorship he has provided to students is exemplary.”
Dr. Mike McCorcle, provost and executive vice president of Evangel University, concurs.
“Students love Dr. Tosh. Mathematics can be a challenging topic to stir interest, but Don teaches technical courses with energy and positivity,” said McCorcle. “He has inspired many EU grads to pursue exciting careers in research, education, engineering, and computer technology.”
In addition to the classroom work, Tosh served as chair in the Department of Natural and Applied Sciences from 1994-2001. He has served on numerous faculty committees, has used his statistical background to assist with University research projects, and he currently serves on the faculty assessment team.
For 32 years, Tosh has been the club sponsor and corresponding secretary for the local chapter of Kappa Mu Epsilon, a national mathematics honor society. KME is primarily focused on undergraduate research.
From 1997 to 2009, he also held national offices with KME, including four years as the National President.
“Both at Evangel University and through KME, I have helped and encouraged students to submit papers for presentation at KME meetings,” said Tosh. “Several such papers have been presented by Evangel students and subsequently published in the national magazine of KME, The Pentagon.”
In addition to being published in several publications, Tosh’s accomplishments include speaking at a variety of conferences, including being the keynote speaker at the Conference on Undergraduate Mathematics in 2008.
Try to keep up
With the physical stamina of a man decades younger, Tosh continues to challenge his peers to keep up and keep fit. Hiking, canoeing and racquetball are regular activities for this 68-year-old. In fact, he celebrated his 61st birthday by climbing to the 19,300-foot summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Tosh is active in his church and the local community. He attends Evangel Temple Christian Center, and has gone on many church mission trips, “usually once or twice a year,” he reports.
In addition, he donates platelets at the Red Cross on a regular basis. In 2003 he was awarded an engraved watch in recognition of his 200th apheresis donation and since then, he has surpassed the 500 donation level.
Don is married to his college sweetheart, Carole, and together they have one daughter and three grandchildren.
Evangel University, which includes AGTS, is a comprehensive Christian university committed to excellence in educating and equipping students to serve the church and society globally. Evangel serves more than 2,100 students from all 50 states and numerous foreign countries, offering 65 undergraduate majors and 19 master’s and doctoral degrees.
WRITTEN BY: Mallory Johnson (senior) & Paul K. Logsdon