Roger Blake ’05G, Professor of Business and Social Statistics
No matter what the sport, and regardless of the weather, you will find Roger Blake rooting for the Panthers at their home games. In fact, he is such a diehard fan of PSU athletics that he was given the University’s Henny Miller Super Fan Award in 2014. That Blake supports student-athletes with such zeal isn’t surprising to anyone who knows him; boundless enthusiasm for the things he loves is an innate part of who he is.
Blake is a professor of business and social statistics. For more than 40 years—13 of them at PSU—he has taught math, a subject that sends chills down the spine of many a student. Fortunately, Blake loves statistics and is a “super fan” of his statistics students as well. “I know the dread many students feel coming into my classroom for the first time, so on that first day, I make a commitment to them: believe in me, because I believe in you,” Blake says. “I tell them that their past experiences with the subject don’t matter. To be successful in my class, they need to be present and willing to come along on the ride.”
His enthusiasm is contagious. Many students who are self-described “math phobes” note that Blake’s positive attitude and energy in the classroom captured their interest and motivated their own participation. Calling Blake “a great man and a great professor” and the “best math teacher” they’ve ever had, students credit him with making statistics engaging, understandable, and fun, and most importantly, with being fully invested in their success. “Today’s students face many challenges, so when they enter my classroom, I want them to know they’re joining a secure, uplifting, welcoming environment, and that any problems can be left at the door,” Blake explains. “During class, I’m in constant motion. I want each student—whether they’re sitting in the front of the class or at the back—to know that they have my full attention. I call it the ‘teach one to teach all’ approach; even when I’m speaking directly with a single student, everyone in the classroom has an opportunity to learn from the interaction.”
As each semester draws to a close, Blake celebrates a personal day of thanksgiving with his students, sharing another of his passions—cooking—in the form of nearly 20 dozen cookies that he bakes in appreciation for his students’ role in his rewarding career. “It’s meaningful for me to take the time to thank my students,” Blake says. “They’ll sometimes say, ‘why are you thanking us?’ and I try to be very clear: You are the reason I teach, and because of you, I am able to do something I love every day.”
Blake and his wife, Debbie, a retired special education teacher, have two grown children, Melanie and Ryan—and a new baby granddaughter, Claire. “My children are at a place in their lives that I hope all my students reach too,” Blake says. “They’re successful in fields that they love, and they’re doing significant work that is good for humanity. It doesn’t get better than that.”
– Donna Eason ’85