History of the Department


Becca Stevens, Class of '85, will be honored at Sewanee's Homecoming this year with the Distinguished Alumna Award.  She will be the youngest recipient of this award and its first female recipient.  Becca has been the prime mover behind the founding and support of Magdalene House, a successful residential community in Nashville for women who have survived lives of prostitution, violence, and abuse.  Becca, who majored in mathematics while attending Sewanee, is now a priest in St. Augustine's Chapel at Vanderbilt University.
Also to be featured at Homecoming will be Ross Sowell, Class of '05, who will give our Annual Homecoming Lecture on a topic in computer science.  Ross is working on a Ph.D. degree in computer science at Washington University in St. Louis.

The Moore-method notes by James T. Cross, retired professor of mathematics, which were made available on the internet last year, have been accepted for publication by the Journal of Inquiry-Based Learning in Mathematics.  When published, Cross’s notes, entitled “A Do-It-Yourself Introduction to Number Theory,” will be freely downloadable from this journal.

This past summer Tori Salekin worked on research at Sewanee with Lucia Dale, while Nels Oscar worked with Stephen Carl.  Both Tori and Nels were supported in their computer science projects by the new McGriff-Bruton internship fund.  Claire Merriman and Anna Tracy attended REU's over the summer at Carleton College and at MSRI in Berkeley, respectively.

The senior Hooke Prize in mathematics was awarded to Thu Le.

We have fourteen rising juniors who have signed up to major in mathematics.

Matthew Rudd has joined the mathematics faculty in a tenure-track position, coming to us from the University of Idaho.  Matthew graduated from Wake Forest University, received a master's degree from the University of Chicago, and a doctorate from the University of Utah.  Joel Cunningham will return next year to a full-time position in mathematics after spending sabbatical leave this academic year at the Courant Institute.  Joel served as vice-chancellor for ten years.  Fred Croom plans to spend his forthcoming sabbatical leave in Italy this spring.

In September of 2010 Mike Starbird gave our Annual Ebey Lectures.  He spoke on geometric gems and, for a talk aimed at the general public, discussed the fourth dimension.  Both talks were enthusiastically received.

Our department has stumbled upon a good idea that others may wish to copy.  Having inherited a large display case upon moving into an area formerly occupied by the sciences, we decided to try to populate the case with books published by former majors and by former and current faculty.  This led to a lot of e-mails, resulting in donations of a respectable number of books (and papers, too).  Many alumni have thus learned that they are still well remembered and appreciated by their former instructors, and we in turn have been rewarded with a nice display of work that might serve to inspire our current students to greater heights.

(Submitted by William Priestley)