UM Math Professor Emeritus Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

May 22, 2019

UM math Professor Emeritus Johnny Lott, center, receives a lifetime achievement award from Robert Barry, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics president, left, and Richard Seitz, chair of the Mathematics Education Trust board of trustees. MISSOULA – The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has named University of Montana math Professor Emeritus Johnny Lott a recipient of the most prestigious national award in mathematics education.

NCTM’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics Education, presented by the Mathematics Education Trust, honors those who have contributed significantly to math education throughout their life by leadership, teaching and service. A tireless educator, advocate and supporter of mathematics education, Lott has dedicated his life to the math education community, while impacting and inspiring students and teachers alike.

He served as NCTM president from 2002 to 2004 and on numerous boards and panels during a career spanning nearly 50 years. He worked as vice president of the Montana Academy of Science, chair for the journal Teaching Children Mathematics and board member of the Montana Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Nominated for the award by UM Professor Emeritus Rick Billstein for his commitment to creating “more and better mathematics for students,” Lott now is professor emeritus at UM after working in the Department of Mathematical Sciences from 1974 to 2005. While at UM, he co-wrote multiple textbooks, including a widely influential pre-service elementary math teachers book. He credits his time at the University as giving him the opportunities to expand math education across and outside of the state. 

Lott codirected the Systemic Initiative for Montana Mathematics and Science in the 1990s, which produced a high school mathematics curriculum used nationwide that would later help modernize the field with its focus on problem-solving over inflexible standards. Income from the curriculum sales supports math teachers and initiatives statewide.

A distinguished alumnus of both Union University and Georgia State University, Lott previously earned the Dean Preble Memorial Award, the MCTM Meritorious Service Award and UM’s George and Jane Dennison Faculty Award. He and his wife, Carolyn, have endowed a scholarship at UM, the Carolyn and Johnny Lott Scholarship, for a student on track to teach elementary mathematics.

Lott received NCTM’s lifetime achievement award along with Margaret (Peg) Smith from the University of Pittsburgh and Lee V. Stiff of North Carolina State University.

NCTM is the world’s largest organization dedicated to improving prekindergarten through grade 12 math education with 40,000 members and more than 200 affiliates. Learn more at


Contact: Frederick Peck, assistant professor, UM Department of Mathematical Sciences, 406-243-4053,