University of Vermont

Foote Receives 2013 George V. Kidder Outstanding Faculty Award

Richard FooteDr. Richard Foote, professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics has been named the recipient of the 2013 George V. Kidder Outstanding Faculty Award by the UVM Alumni Association. While many faculty, alumni and students wrote in support of the nomination, the sentiment of the advocates can best be represented in the words of a former student who wrote, "Professor Foote does not teach, he changes lives."

A member of the faculty since 1981, and a previous winner of the Kroepsch-Maurice Excellence in Teaching Award (1990), Dr. Foote was nominated for his effectiveness as a teacher, including: his ability to provoke student interest and enthusiasm; his commitment to student advising; and for his effectiveness in motivating students in ways that have a lasting influence on their lives and for his ability to constructively influence campus life beyond the classroom.

"I view this [Kidder] award as really a tribute to all the students, faculty and staff I have had the privilege of working with," says Dr. Foote. "I have been especially lucky to have such wonderful and gifted people to first have as students, and then as (often long-distant) colleagues and friends, and to keep in touch with as they go on in life to so many outstanding and diverse accomplishments. I am deeply touched by all their appreciation; and I remember vividly and with enduring fondness the classes, help sessions, meetings, flashes of revelation, hours of struggle, joyful triumphs, and just the simple one-on-one friendly conversations with so many marvelous students over my 30+ years at UVM."

"This prestigious recognition of Dr. Foote reflects the academic excellence found within CEMS and its faculty," said Bernard "Chip" Cole, Interim Dean of the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences.   "Richard is also well known worldwide for his much-admired advanced algebra textbook, Abstract Algebra, which is co-authored with UVM colleague David Dummit." Now in its 3rd edition, this is the most widely used Abstract Algebra graduate textbook in the country.

Dr. Foote has opened the world of Mathematics to countless undergraduate, Master's, and PhD students. Many of those have continued on to serve the University of Vermont (e.g., Mathematics lecturers Matt Welz, Joe Kurdle, Helen Read and Karla Karstens), while many others hold faculty positions at other colleges (Hy Ginsberg - faculty member at Worcester State University; Kirsten Stor - faculty member at Castleton State College; Natalie Cartwright - faculty member at SUNY New Palz; Jo-Ellis Monaghan - faculty member at St. Michael's College; Elizabeth Wilcox - faculty member at Colgate University; Sandy Rhoades Gokey - faculty member at Greenfield Community College; Karen Ricciardi -- faculty member at UMassBoston) or high schools (John Painter -- South Burlington High school, Nichole Caisse -Lamoille Union HS; Chaim Lodish and Emmanuel Amoah at Burlington High School). Other former students, such as Michael Maguire, Doug Robinson, Sean Cohen, Ben (Martin) Reist, have gone on to work in industryand speak to Professor Foote's approach of mentoring as "living on" in the work that they do in their approach to working with mentees. Not only has Dr. Foote served students at the University of Vermont, but he has also been active in the wider academic community as well. Sandy Rhoades Gokey completed her M.S. in Mathematics at UVM. She continued her Doctoral work at the University of Massachusetts Amherst because at that time UVM did not have a PhD program in Mathematics. Dr. Foote was made a graduate faculty member at UMass Amherst so that he could act as her PhD supervisor. He has additionally advised local high schools' Mathematics teams such as the Mater Christi Math Counts Team (in 1996 their team placed first in the region, third in the state and contained the top individual in the state) and Rice Memorial High School's Greater Burlington Math League Team. Dr. Foote also served as the Senior Challenge advisor for CVU High School student Ben Bond, now a student at MIT.


Dr. Foote completed his PhD at Cambridge University in 1976 under the supervision of Field’s Medalist John Thompson.  While still a research student, he was awarded the University’s Knight Prize for Research and a Research Fellowship at Trinity College.  He went on to positions at the California Institute of Technology, Rutgers University and the University of Minnesota before joining the UVM faculty as an Assistant Professor in 1981.  He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1983 and Full Professor in 1991. At UVM Dr. Foote was awarded the Kroepsch-Maurice Award for Excellence in Teaching (1990), the Pizzagalli Distinguished Publication Award (in 2007, for his paper “Mathematics and Complex Systems” appearing in Science), and the University Scholars Award (2010).  In addition to his teaching and research, Dr. Foote has served as Associate Dean and Acting Dean of the College of Engineering and Mathematics, Interim Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and the first Co-Director of the School of Engineering.  Dr. Foote’s research is in the area of group theory and its applications, and his interests include Complex Systems and their relations to group theory and theoretical physics.  He has explored applications of group theory to problems in algebraic number theory, topology, and digital signal processing, and his early research and continuing touchstone is the Classification of Finite Simple Groups.  Dr. Foote has recently worked with Drs. Gagan Mirchandani and Robert Snapp in UVM's School of Engineering on discrete and algebraic notions of multiresolution analysis and wavelets, and the applications of group theory and algebra to image processing and edge detection. His research has been funded by the NSF, NSA and NASA.

As a graduate advisor, he has advised dozens of M.S. and PhD theses and served on numerous graduate theses committees.  He has been director of the Mathematics Graduate Program.

The George V. Kidder Award

For more than 25 years, the George V. Kidder Outstanding Faculty Award has been synonymous with quality teaching and dedication to the enhancement of the academic experience for undergraduate students at UVM. The Kidder Award is presented annually in honor of Dean Emeritus George V. Kidder '22, who loyally served the University of Vermont for more than seventy years. He touched the lives of thousands of students, now alumni, who fondly remember him for his insight and encouragement, which left a lasting impact on their lives. The inspiration of George Kidder's example gives this award its special meaning.

For more information contact:

Catherine Bliss
Complex Systems / Mathematics
University of Vermont
Burlington, Vermont 05404

To contact Dr. Foote: E-mail:

For more information on these awards visit: