List of all the chairs of the WVU Mathematics Department
since the founding of the University in 1867
H. W. Gould
WVU is a Land Grant Institution. From 1867 until 1891, the Federal
Government (War Department) assigned military officers on a
rotating basis to such institutions to teach military science
and tactics and be head of the cadet corps. Because of the lack of
funds, WVU imposed on these officers to also teach undergraduate
mathematics, such as calculus. Lt. Ingalls (1877-1878) was such a
popular and effective teacher that the University tried to keep him
here on a regular basis. West Virginia's Senator Waitman T. Willey (for
whom Willey Street is named) wrote to U. S. President Rutherford B.
Hayes, begging him to help. But President Hayes replied that he had no
way to countermand the War Department. Remark: Ingalls left WVU and
went to Fort Monroe, Va. where he founded the U. S. Army Ballistics
School. He wrote major papers and books in this area, and was a major
supporter of James J. Sylvester's American Journal of Mathematics at its inception in 1878.
By 1906, it was decided that a major effort had to be launched to
secure a distinguished mathematician to come to WVU to head the
Mathematics Department. Some 40 candidates applied, and John Eiesland,
a Norwegian with a Ph. D. from Johns Hopkins University was chosen. In
his 31-year tenure the first two Ph. D. degrees in mathematics were
granted here at WVU in 1934. WVU did not offer doctoral work until
1930. Eiesland retired in 1938 and the Ph. D. program folded due to
lack of research and interest in classical geometry. Topology was
gaining ascendancy among research workers.
Our current doctoral program was initiated during the three
year tenure of Al Baartmans, with our first new Ph. D. degree
being awarded in 1993 to Gary Seldomridge. The strongest field of
research and scholarship here has now been in discrete mathematics
(combinatorics, number theory and graph theory). More than 35
doctorates have now been awarded in these and other fields of research
that have been added.
Professor Baartmans had me start a regular Wednesday seminar in
discrete mahematics and introduce a course on graph theory. The hiring
of Professor Cun-Quan Zhang and later Hong-Jian Lai in graph theory
assured us of a strong effort in this field of research. Other strong
faculty in discrete mathematics include Professors Michael Mays, John
Goldwasser, Jerzy Wojciechowski, and the author (now emeritus),
guaranteeing strength to the program. For many years the program was
also strengthened in the areas of hyperspace and continuum theory by
the presence of Professor Samuel B. Nadler, Jr. (now emeritus), an
internationally noted authority. The recent hiring of Professor Pawel
Pralat adds more expertise to our discrete mathematics group, and we
have a strong liaison with faculty in computer science and engineering.
1867-69, Col. J. R. Weaver, A. M.
1869-75, Bvt. Capt. H. H. Pierce, A.M.
1875-77, Lt. E. T. C. Richmond
1877-78, Lt. James M. Ingalls
1878-79, Maj. Thomas F. Snyder
1879-84, Daniel Boardman Purinton, A. M.
1884-88, Lt. James L. Wilson
1888-91, Lt. Edward S. Avis, Ph.D.
1891-93, James Scott Stewart, M. S. (WVU graduate)
1893-94, Robert Allen Armstrong, A. M. (actually a professor of English)
1894-1907, James Scott Stewart, M. S.
1907-38, John Arndt Eiesland, Ph. D. (Johns Hopkins University doctorate)
1938-46, Clarence Newton Reynolds, Jr., Ph. D. (Harvard doctorate)
1946-60, Hannibal Albert Davis. Ph. D. (Cornell doctorate)
1960-65, Joseph Kyle Stewart, Ph. D. (WVU doctorate 1934)
1965-67, Iland Dee Peters, M. S.(acting chair) (WVU graduate)
1967-72, James Clifton Eaves, Ph. D. (Univ. of N. C. doctorate)
1972-73, Iland Dee Peters, M. S. (acting chair)
1973-79, Iland Dee Peters, M. S.
1979-80. James E. Dowdy, Ph.D. (acting chair) (Oklahoma State Univ. doctorate)
1980-82, Vadim Komkov. Ph. D. (Univ. of Utah doctorate)
1982-84, James E. Miller, Ph. D. (acting chair) (Univ. of Kentucky doctorate)
1984-85, John W. Schleusner, Ph. D. (interim chair) (Univ. of Alabama doctorate)
1985-88, Alphonse H. Baartmans, Ph. D. (Michigan State Univ. doctorae)
1988-90, James H. Lightbourne, Ph.D. (interim chair) (N.C.State Univ.doctorate)
1990-91, James H. Lightbourne, Ph.D.
1991-92. Michael E. Mays, Ph.D. (interim chair) (Penn. State Univ. doctorate)
1992-96. Harvey Diamond, (interim chair) (M.I.T. doctorate)
1996-99, Lawrence (Larry) N. Mann, Ph. D. (Univ. of Pennslvania doctorate)
1999-2008, Sherman D. Riemenschneider, Ph. D. (Syracuse Univ. doctorate)
2008- , Edgar J. Fuller, Jr., Ph. D. (Univ. of Georgia doctorate)
Note: The author would appreciate any corrections to the list of chairs.
Photos of James Stewart, John Eiesland, Clarence Reynolds, Hannibal
Davis, I. D. Peters, and J. C. Eaves may be seen on this web page under
"Gould's Photo Album". Other photos will be added later.
A detailed account of the early years of mathematics at WVU, 1867-1967, may be found in the author's
historical paper written for the Centennial of the University . This
paper concentrates on the work of Professors Eiesland and Reynolds. For
many years C. N. Reynolds had the best results towards proving the
famous four color conjecture, which, however, was finally actually
proved by Haken and Appel in 1976.
1. Henry W. Gould, A bibliography of research in mathematics at West Virginia University, 1867-1967,
Proceedings of the West Virginia Academy of Science, Vol. 38(1966), pp. 123-133.
Revised 16 July 2010