Professor John Firkins spent 38 years at GU as an outstanding mathematics teacher.
"Gonzaga University Archives"
Firkins is the recipient of so many honors and awards that we can only list a few; Gonzaga's Arnold Professor of the Humanities, Gonzaga Teacher of the Year twice, Washington state's Professor of the Year in 1986, listed as one of the top 25 professors in the United States by CASE, a member of the National Faculty, and a 1986 silver medallist in the Competition for National Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation.
Firkins once said; "Kids today are smart. I'm sick and tired of hearing otherwise. What would happen if we told kids how smart they are? In 1804 Harvard students were only required to add and subtract. Now our second graders do that!" Firkins was the expert when it came to teaching teachers how to teach math. A crusader for math education reform, he received national recognition in 1991 for his work to improve the K-12 mathematics curriculum.
John believes his greatest teaching success was saving students who could easily fall through the cracks if someone was not there to reach out to them when they needed it most. He told about a student who graduated in civil engineering a few years back. The student came to John to thank him. John asked; "For what?" The student replied; "For believing in me." John said it was the best compliment he could ever receive.