ROBBIN O’LEARY has deep roots in the STEM fields. Her father taught high school physics, and her mother taught high school chemistry. Not long after earning a doctorate from the University of Texas in 1990, she joined Seattle Pacific’s Mathematics Department faculty. For the next 32 years, she made an impact on campus, retiring in June 2022.
Students considered her both demanding and fair in the classroom, and O’Leary demonstrated genuine care for her students, not only as learners but also as people.
“Dr. O’Leary is a kind-hearted math enthusiast,” said EMILY BOGLE ’22. “She finds ways to connect with students across all levels of math.”
Sometimes that meant explaining calculus using Jell-O. And O’Leary considered honeydew melons perfect for “explaining spherical geometry.”
She was a three-time chair of the Mathematics Department and served on the Faculty Status Committee, the Faculty Budget and Stewardship Committee, and the Faculty Affairs Committee.
O’Leary played the cello and sang for multiple community events, including several concerts with the SPU Symphony Orchestra.
After teaching more than 20 different courses — many of which she developed — O’Leary is now enjoying her retirement with her husband. She is involved with the Seattle Mennonite Church, playing her cello on her own schedule and planning visits to the Midwest to visit her two sons and their families.
“I’d been on an academic schedule since kindergarten,” she said. “Now we’re able to choose to do things based on what works for us, rather than what fits into our schedule, which is freeing.”
Photo by Lynn Anselmi