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Morgan Polikoff

Morgan Polikoff

Associate professor of education | USC | Class of 2006

One part kooky, one part challenging, one part fun.

That’s how Morgan Polikoff remembers the one-of-a-kind course, taught by a one-of-a-kind professor, he signed up for as a UI freshman.

“My first semester, I took a class called The Art and Practice of Mathematics with Dan Grayson,” says Polikoff (BS '06, mathematics), now an associate professor of education at USC.

“I was all set to become an engineer at that point,” he says, “but Professor Grayson’s class was everything I wanted — challenging, fun, exciting. When I decided a semester later that engineering wasn’t for me, I hopped over to mathematics, figuring I’d get a teaching certificate too just to cover my bases.

“Well, that led to my interest in math education and education policy, which is how I got to where I am today. So I have to thank Professor Grayson for his kooky, fun approach to mathematics and all that’s resulted from it.”

Another self-discovery Polikoff made during his four years in C-U: Living in a frat house — which he did for much of his final two years — wasn’t all that bad, after all.

“It’s hard to even wrap my head around now — a clean freak crammed in a tiny room in a messy fraternity house. A foodie coping with just-this-side-of-edible fraternity catering. An openly gay, avowedly liberal kid shacking up with a bunch of mostly-quite-religious, mostly-quite-conservative guys.

“But somehow it worked” at Sigma Phi Epsilon, he says. “That experience kept me on my toes and introduced me — and them, I think — to all kinds of people and experiences I wouldn’t otherwise have had.”