In Memory: Tribute

James Heddens

In Memoriam, James W. Heddens, PhD (1925-2022)

Professor Emeritus of Mathematics Jim Heddens, beloved former Kent State professor and icon in the field of mathematics education, passed away on June 3, 2022. Dr. Heddens joined the College of Education faculty in 1961 as the first faculty member at Kent State focused on the teaching and research of mathematics education. In his 25 years at Kent State, he amassed an impressive list of accomplishments.

He pioneered a mathematics teaching laboratory in the University School (1962-1982), created the first elementary mathematics teaching specialist graduate program in the United States, developed Kent State’s masters and doctoral programs in mathematics education, served as the major advisor on 16 doctoral dissertations and trained thousands of future elementary teachers.

Dr. Heddens also was the lead author of Today’s Mathematics, the longest-running methods textbook for elementary mathematics teachers (1964–2014). In 1974, he founded an organization that became the Research Council on Mathematics Learning, which will celebrate its 50th meeting in 2023. He also helped develop and implement mathematics education programs internationally with his work at the University of Malawi.

Beyond the list of accomplishments was a teacher who cared for his students and created community. His focus on seeing how students think and building on their strengths was embedded in everything he did. Currently, his work has directly affected Kent State degrees for thousands of bachelor’s degrees, hundreds of master’s degrees and about 70 doctoral degrees in mathematics education from Kent State. He has left an astounding legacy for Kent State faculty and students and is a worthy model of an educator and peer.

To honor Dr. Heddens’ commitment to mathematics education, we have established a scholarship fund in his name, now in its third year. As we approach the 62nd anniversary of the mathematics program he established at Kent State, we are honored to celebrate the past, present and ongoing commitment to his everlasting vision.

Karl W. Kosko, PhD
Associate Professor, School of Teaching, Learning and Curriculum Studies
College of Education, Health and Human Services

William R. Speer, PhD ’76
Executive Vice President and Provost at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Former Director of the UNLV Mathematics Learning Center


To support the future of mathematics education at Kent State in James Heddens' name, you may make a gift online or by contacting Stephanie Mowls at 330-672-0018 or



POSTED: Thursday, May 11, 2023 01:51 PM
UPDATED: Monday, April 22, 2024 04:38 PM