Professor of Mathematics
Dr. Mark Riggs' area of expertise is statistics, but at heart he is a musician. And, he notes, the two often go hand in hand.
"Many people seem to link an aptitude in mathematics with music, and I am no exception," says Riggs, professor of mathematics at ACU. "I have played the viola almost all my life, and continue to play in Abilene as I have the chance. I also pick on the mandolin and have sung with the Classical Chorus of Abilene for several seasons."
Riggs teaches all upper level courses in the math department, which include two statistical methods courses and a course in mathematical statistics. In addition, he teaches courses related to the math degree with a concentration in actuarial science.
Actuarial science at ACU
ACU is one of only a handful of universities in Texas that offer a program specifically designed toward the actuarial career, says Riggs. Actuarial science is the discipline that applies mathematical and statistical methods to assess risk in the insurance and finance industries. ACU graduates have passed introductory exams for the field at a rate far exceeding the national average, Riggs says.
"Since probability and statistics plays such an important role in actuarial science, I oversee this program in our department and advise our actuarial science majors," he says.
Though Riggs enjoys teaching math majors, he has a soft spot in his heart for non-majors. "Math is a hard subject for many students, and many come inadequately prepared for college mathematics," he says. "I try to meet each student where they are academically and patiently bring them along."
Math for non-majors
Teaching math to non-majors introduces Riggs to a broad cross section of students that he follows through graduation, and even beyond. "My favorite part of teaching is being in community with a wide variety of students," he says.
Riggs first taught at ACU in 1980, having just finished all but his dissertation for a Ph.D. in statistics from Texas A&M. He finished that degree his first year at ACU and continued teaching for the university until 1987. In 1987, he moved to Temple to work for Scott & White Memorial. He worked for 16 years as a senior biostatistician and was head of biostatistics department at Scott & White for seven years before returning to ACU in 2003.
Working side by side with colleagues who are committed to following Christ holds a special appeal for Riggs. "We may not always agree politically or even on all spiritual matters, but our commitment to serving Christ binds us together," he says.