Faculty spotlight: Professor Cory Colbert

A new face in the math department


Professor Cory Colbert teaches Calculus I and II in Washington and Lee’s math department. Photo by Caroline Baber, ’22.

Frances McIntosh

If you’ve stepped inside Robinson Hall (now Chavis Hall) recently, you might have run into Professor Cory Colbert. He’s a new professor this year in the math department, teaching Calculus I and II.

Before coming here, Colbert taught math at Williams College. But he said that the culture of Washington and Lee University stands out to him.

“The biggest difference I’ve noticed is the emphasis on honor, integrity and being a good community member,” Colbert said in an email. “This is not to say other institutions do not value these things, but it is definitely an incredibly strong, and highly appreciated, part of W&L’s culture.”

He’s no stranger to Virginia. He grew up in both Richmond and Midlothian. In 2011, he graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a B.S. in mathematics and went on to earn his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin in 2017.

Colbert said he hopes to teach related to his research on commutative ring theory, which is a branch of abstract algebra.

His favorite part about math? Colbert said the beauty in discovery.

“There is a brilliant and beautiful world full of symmetries and mysteries,” he said. “A mathematician is never really done until every case is handled, every avenue is explored and every question is resolved. But seeing as one thing naturally leads to the next, we never really are done with anything.”

Outside of the classroom, Colbert is passionate about aviation. He has logged more than 650 hours in flight simulation. He said one day he hopes to have enough experience to teach an aviation course.

Until then, Colbert said he’s excited to discover Washington and Lee students’ passion for math.

“I’m looking forward to sharing and learning mathematics with other curious minds,” Colbert said.

Have a suggestion for a new faculty profile? Contact Frances McIntosh at [email protected].