Department History

 

The Department of Mathematics of the University of Mississippi has been an integral part of the university community since the university opened its doors in 1848. At that time, the School of Mathematics, as it was called, patterned its mode of instruction after that of the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. Students were required to have nothing beyond a grasp of arithmetic to be admitted as freshmen. The curriculum stressed such areas as geometry and trigonometry. Calculus, now considered a freshman and sophomore course, was taken during the senior year.

After the turn of the century, the department expanded its curriculum to reflect the growth of industry and big business in the United States. Courses were designed especially for students in business, engineering, and elementary education. More advance topics were taught, and calculus became a sophomore or junior course.

Over the years, the department has continued to modify its course offerings and to expand its faculty in order to keep pace with advances in mathematical research in addition to technological improvements. At present, the department consists of twenty-one full-time professors and instructors, including specialists in abstract algebra, real analysis, complex analysis, functional analysis, statistics, combinatorics, geometry, and topology. The department's current course offerings range from remedial courses to the most advanced research topics for doctoral students.

Originally, the Department of Mathematics was housed in the Lyceum. Later, the department held classes in Peabody Hall, and in 1964 it was moved to the new biology building, which was initially named for Alfred Hume. This building was renamed Shoemaker Hall in 1968 when Hume Hall, the present location of the department of mathematics, was dedicated in honor of its long- time chair.

The department is quite proud of its past and present faculty members. These include Frederick Barnard, who later became Chancellor of the University, and L.Q.C. Lamar, who became an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Alfred Hume, who served as Chairman of the Mathematics Department for fifty-one years, also served the university as Acting Professor of Civil Engineering, Dean of Liberal Arts, and Chancellor. T. A. Bickerstaff was for many years a central figure on the University Athletic Committee. Glenn Hopkins served as Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts before being named chair of the department and Don Cole presently serves as the Assistant Dean of the Graduate School. In addition, these faculty members and others like them have provided quality instruction and have often been honored for their excellence. Four current faculty members have received campus-wide or liberal arts teaching awards, more than in any other department.

Mathematics graduates have had a notable record of success in business and professional life as well as in law school and graduate programs. The Department has offered the Ph.D. degree since 1956, when the Board of Trustees authorized that program. In 1963, the department's first doctoral candidate was accepted, and the twenty-nine students who have earned a doctor of philosophy degree in mathematics at Ole Miss hold jobs in the business world as well as in academia. In addition to the numerous graduates who have become professors at other institutions, several have become chairs of mathematics or deans.

The department is also proud of the many external gifts which it has attracted. Several scholarships are offered to outstanding undergraduate mathematics majors, and the Lin Endowment and Dalrymple Lecture Endowment are also used to support the department's activities. The Dalrymple Lecture, held yearly by the department, has brought several of the world's finest mathematicians to the university, including the acclaimed Paul R. Halmos, the 1994 Dalrymple Lecturer.

From its modest beginning as the School of Mathematics in 1848, the department has evolved into a modern one, emphasizing quality instruction in a research environment. The department's goal is to give every student, from freshmen enrolled in college algebra to students in business calculus to doctoral candidates, the firm foundation in mathematics that is necessary for success in today's rapidly changing work force. It is a department aware of the importance of both theory and applications as it looks forward to rapid advancements in the university's next hundred and fifty years.

Departmental Location

1848-1964 Lyceum
1964-1968 Peabody Hall and Shoemaker Hall
1968-present Hume Hall

Department Chairs

1848-1854 Albert Bledsoe
1854-1858 Frederick Barnard
1858-1861 Jordan Phipps
1861-1865 (University closed during the Civil War)
1865-1889 General Claudius Sears
1889-1890 Henry Strude
1890-1926 Alfred Hume
1926-1930 Charles Wunder
1930-1932 Marce Rhodes
1932-1947 Alfred Hume
1947-1971 T. A. Bickerstaff
1971-1978 Roy Sheffield
1978-1983 Eldon Miller
1983-1989 Jim Porter
1989-1992 Eldon Miller
1992-1998 Glenn Hopkins
1998-2001 Eldon Miller
2001-2002 Gerard Buskes
2002 James Reid
2002-present Tristan Denley

 

 

Please send comments and questions about the page content to the Department of Mathematics at mdepart@olemiss.edu.
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Last modified on Tuesday, January 21, 2003 5:00 p.m.

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