AU Math Prof Brings Real World into Classroom

Dr. Cadaver arrives at AU to teach Calculus

Meet Dr. Cadaver, Mathemortician. That is the pseudonym of Professor Sweeney Todman. But to Professor Todman the Dr. Cadaver character is more than just a dramatic role — it is a matter of life and death.

Todman got the idea for his alter ego by combining his two great passions: mathematics and mortuary science. As a child, Todman was fascinated by the allure of numbers and the austere beauty of mathematical truths. However, while growing up as part of his family's respected mortuary business, he developed a great affection and respect for this important profession. Today he is both a successful mathematician and professor, and a certified funeral director. He finds these two affinities surprisingly complementary.

"As a math teacher, I understand how important it is for students to see that mathematics can connect with life. Mortuary science gives me a novel and unique way to do that. After all, what could be more universal in life than death?" he asked in a recent interview. "And when students see how, even in the mortuary arts, mathematics has a role to play, well, they cannot help but be impressed. Plus, the combination of these topics provides a terrific contrast. Once my students learn about rates of decay and embalming theory, they seem eager to return to the study of calculus with a renewed rigor."

As Dr. Cadaver, Professor Todman can bring the abstract mathematical topics from his classes into the real world. He explained it this way: "Death is something everyone knows about and everyone can relate to. My experience and accomplishments in the field give me a terrific credibility. Some students walk into my class convinced that math is a dead subject. But believe me; they don't walk out that way. I know what's dead and what isn't. And my students know I know."

Professor Todman says his dual professions serve the university in multiple ways: "It enriches my classes, for sure. Plus, I can offer my colleagues and members of the university community great discounts during times of bereavement." Anyone who wishes to take advantage of this opportunity is encouraged to visit the website Tell them Dr. Cadaver sent you.