Where are you from?
Dr. Peter Eley is a renaissance man who thrives in an environment of curiosity, creativity, and engagement. Peter was born in Henderson, North Carolina but grew up in Kittrell, NC. He graduated from Southern Vance High School and earned an undergraduate degree from Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) in Mathematics with a minor in Airway Science. After graduating from ECSU, he pursued a master’s degree in Applied Mathematics. A few years later, he earned another master’s degree in mathematics education and a Ph.D. in Mathematics Education, earning all graduate degrees from North Carolina State University (NCSU). Dr. Eley is the oldest of five children. His father was a civil service employee of the Social Security Administration (SSA), and his mother was a Teacher’s Assistant. In the Eley household, Faith and Education were a priority, and he spent most of his time in church or school.
Currently, Dr. Eley is serving as the NASA University Liaison for Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) through the NASA Office of STEM (OSTEM) and Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) as a special reassignment project while holding a faculty position as a full-rank professor in Mathematics Education at Fayetteville State University (FSU). He has served in various administrative roles, including Associate Dean at FSU and Chairman of the Foundation Board at ECSU. Dr. Eley currently serves as a Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) Reviewer and is the founder of Blerds Education Analytics (blerdedu.com).
Please describe an experience (or 2) that helped you discover/ cultivate your interest in the mathematical sciences.
There are two experiences that have fueled Dr. Eley’s passion for mathematical science. As an undergraduate student, Eley was always interested in technology and learning how to engage with it. As a result, he set out to major in computer science. However, he did impressively well in his math courses and caught the attention of Dr. Johnny Houston, a professor in the math department. While working in his lab, Dr. Houston would often discuss the beauty of math and all the opportunities it had afforded him. However, it was an off-the-cuff conversation that sparked Dr. Eley’s attention. Dr. Houston said, “Eley, you should consider being a mathematician; mathematicians are computer scientists by default.” Until that conversation, Dr. Eley had never viewed math that way, so he believed him and switched his major to mathematics.
Additionally, while matriculating at ECSU, Dr. Eley took an Abstract Algebra course under Dr. Dipendra Sengupta, and a section in that course fascinated him. He was very interested in Cryptography. The more interest he showed in the field, the more Dr. Sengupta challenged him, and they developed a relationship that took them beyond the classroom, as they have become lifelong friends.
What is/are your most proud accomplishment(s) in regards to your career in the mathematical sciences?
Dr. Eley has several academic accomplishments of which he most proud. During the 2020 academic year, Dr. Eley was awarded the prestigious UNC Board of Governors’ Award for Excellence in Teaching. The students nominated Dr. Eley, and the Fayetteville State University Faculty and Administration supported his nomination. He proudly wears the medallion that came with the honor whenever academic regalia is to be worn.
Dr. Eley is also proud of his work with NASA as a University Liaison for Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) through the Office of STEM and Minority Undergraduate Education and Research Project (MUERP). He was selected to participate, to learn and support MSIs to help build a pipeline in STEM careers. Inspiring others to pursue STEM careers is something that he is very passionate about and is a way for him to give back to the community that has supported him.
What is/are your most proud accomplishment(s) in regards to your personal life?
His proudest personal accomplishment is his family, his wife, and two children. He also serves as Pastor of the Safehouse Church (safehousechurchgso.com). Dr. Eley’s faith is at the forefront of everything he does and, for him, that faith starts at home. He enjoys spending quality time with his family and raising his children with his wife.
He was also very proud to be selected as the Fall 2020 graduation speaker for the NCSU Math Department. It marked a special moment because he was granted the opportunity to share his experience and wisdom with the graduating classes. He will forever be grateful for and cherish that experience.
Please share some words of wisdom/inspiration.
If you make a mistake and you can fix it, fix it. Never be too proud to go back and tell somebody that you are sorry, I messed that one up, then move on. Another thing that has helped has been to remember to always show up! If you have a seat at the table, be there; your presence can make a difference. When you hit a wall, refer to Psalms 37, which will bring things back into perspective.