2-minute read

Aces of Trades: John Maharry makes math fun

"One of my high school math teachers started me tutoring other students and told me I was an ‘explainer,’ always helping others see the ‘why’ of the math we were doing," says John Maharry, assistant dean for academic opportunities and math professor at The Ohio State University, Marion.
As soon as he stepped on campus he knew he'd 'found the right place for me'

He grew up a professor’s kid, and it had a lifelong impact.

“Growing up in the small college atmosphere, I always knew I enjoyed that atmosphere,” recalled John Maharry. “From my earliest memories I wanted to be a college professor. I’ve always appreciated the vibrant community that’s found on a college campus, where faculty and students in a variety of disciplines can express and share their love of learning."

"For me, I always enjoyed school and learning, solving the puzzles and patterns I found in mathematics," Maharry added. "One of my high school math teachers started me tutoring other students and told me I was an ‘explainer,’ always helping others see the ‘why’ of the math we were doing.”

Today, Maharry is assistant dean for academic opportunities and professor of mathematics at The Ohio State University at Marion.

“I support our honors students and students working on research projects with faculty in many academic disciplines − from psychology to biology, engineering, English, education, social work and other areas," he explained. "I couldn’t be more proud of the students we have on our campus. Many of them are engaged in exciting, innovative and impactful projects with their faculty advisers. The best part of my job is to be able to give funds for their research through scholarships or travel funds and see them grow as researchers and move forward in their career goals.”

Putting the 'explainer' instinct to work in Marion

Maharry, 55, grew up in Crawfordsville, Indiana, where his dad was a computer science professor at Wabash College and his mom was the campus librarian. He graduated from the local high school in 1986, then earned a degree in mathematics at Grinnell College in Iowa in 1990, then a Ph.D. in mathematics at Ohio State.

“After I earned my Ph.D. in 1996,” Maharry said, “my family and I moved to Franklin, Indiana, to be a professor at a small college there. But I came back to Columbus for family reasons a few years later. Then in 2004, a position as a math professor on the Marion campus opened up.

“From the time I set foot on campus, I knew I found the place for me," he said. "I had taught the enormous calculus lectures on the Columbus campus with several hundred students, and I much preferred the smaller campus setting. I had the chance to know my students, their goals and their struggles with math. I try to use my ‘explainer’ instinct to help individual students with their questions and understand why the math we’re learning will help in their chosen major. I felt I could have a much bigger impact in their education and helping them reach their goals.”

Leslie Beyer-Hermsen is assistant dean at The Ohio State University at Marion.

“John is an upbeat and compassionate person who has a great sense of humor,” assessed Beyer-Hermsen. “He reaches out to everyone and provides an appropriate amount of challenge and support, whether that be finding ways to make math fun for students who might be intimidated by math, encouraging individuals to share their research and talents, helping the campus be resilient, or riding a hilly, 100-mile Pelotonia bicycle ride with a colleague.”

“Over the years on the Marion campus,” Maharry responded, “I’ve taken on more responsibilities on the campus including overseeing the campus honors and undergraduate research program. In many ways, the roles I have at OSU, and in particular the Marion campus, have brought me full circle to my appreciation of the value of campus life working with faculty, staff and students creating other life-long learners.”

The Ohio State University at Marion is located at 1465 Mt. Vernon Ave. For more information, call 740-389-6786 or log on osumarion.osu.edu.

Aces of Trades is a weekly series focusing on people and their jobs — whether they’re unusual jobs, fun jobs or people who take ordinary jobs and make them extraordinary. If you have a suggestion for a future profile, let us know at news@marionstar.com.