In 1776 the 13
American colonies revolted against the English Crown, largely because
of taxation without representation. Thus began the American Revolution,
and the United States of America was born, our freedom later being
codified in the U. S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The War of
1812 settled the issue and we became free of British rule. But other
troubles lay ahead . . . civil war.
As early as 1820 the transmontane settlers, the
mountaineers in the western counties of Virginia, began to complain
that they were being treated by the Richmond government in similar
fashion, i.e. taxation without representation, tax monies being sent to
the eastern counties and nothing being done to build roads, schools,
prisons, etc, for the western counties. By 1860, the slavery issue
dominated politics in the South and led to the Civil War. The
mountaineers were totally fed up with the Richmond government and
refused to go with the Confederacy and voted to stay with the Union.
The new State of West Virginia was born on 20 June 1863. The State
adopted the motto "Montani semper liberi" . . . Mountaineers are always
free. It is ironic that the Virginia motto is "Sic semper tyrannus" . .
. thus always to tyrants. Et tu, Brute?
Our present West Virginia University was established
in 1867. Many people left the Old Dominion (Virginia) and came to the
New Dominion (West Virginia), seeing it as a Land of Opportunity, where
one might achieve something. Most of my mother's family migrated from
Richmond and Petersburg, Virginia, to Charleston in Kanawha County
around 1870. It was a three or four day trip, up the James River,
across the Braddock Trail (later U.S. Route 40 and now Interstate 68),
and down the Ohio River. And they did prosper. Members of our family
(the Temples and Brawleys) have been sheriffs, have served in the West
Virginia Legislature, have had top positions with the Division of Motor
Vehicles, and a cousin of mine established the Bank of Nitro. I located
here in 1958, and was able to build a career I do not think I could
have achieved in the Old Dominion. The State of West Virginia and West
Virginia University have championed human rights, without being mired
down in the politics of the Old South.
More civil freedom seems to have developed in the
New Dominion. Women could study at West Virginia University over a
hundred years ago, whereas women were not allowed as undergraduate
students at the University of Virginia until around 1976. Race was not
as big an issue here as in the Old Dominion. West Virginia University
awarded a master's degree in mathematics to a woman of color in the
1940's, a long time before the United States Supreme Court ruled
Here at West Virginia University much progress has
been achieved for human rights and assistance to other countries. Our
University helped to develop agricultural programs in Tanzania
forty-odd years ago, and Robert F. Munn, the late Dean of WVU
Libraries, made at least 12 trips to countries all over Africa helping
to set up libraries for colleges and schools.
I maintain that cooperation in mathematics
research and education between the United States of America and the
Peoples Republic of China began right here at West Virginia University
in 1965 when Professor L. C. Hsu, then at Jilin University, Changchun,
PRC, wrote to me and suggested that we collaborate on research. This
was fully seven years before U. S. President Richard M. Nixon made his
memorable trip to meet Chairman Mao Tse-Tung (Zedong Mao). We published
a major paper in 1973 right after Jimmy Carter became U. S. President
and the USA and PRC formally established diplomatic relations. I was
flattered to become an associate editor of a new Chinese mathematics
journal published at Dalian University of Technology. Dr. Hsu visited
here several times, being my house guest the first time. We have since
had hundreds of Chinese mathematics students come to study at West
Virginia University, and we have several excellent Chinese mathematics
professors on our faculty.
In mathematics, WVU early on had two women
professors: Margaret Buchanan Cole
(1885-1959) and Bird Margaret Turner
(1877-1962). I well remember meeting both of them.
Margaret Buchanan received her A. B. at WVU in 1906, her A .M. at WVU
in 1917. and Ph. D. at Bryn Mawr in 1922, and took other graduate study
at Chicago and at the Sorbonne in Paris. She taught at WVU from 1922 to
1929 and then again from 1938 to 1955. She did not publish but was an
Bird Turner received her A.B. at WVU in 1915, her A. M. at WVU in 1917,
and Ph. D. at Bryn Mawr in 1920. She was school principal of
Moundsville High School, 1926-17, and was an instructor at the
University of Illinois,1920-23. She then taught at WVU, 1923-1947.
Professor Turner published several research papers on geometry. Click on this URL to read her biography: <http://www.agnesscott.edu/Lriddle/women/turner.htm
Until the current doctoral program was established, the hiring of
top-notch faculty from out-of-state was almost impossible, so that
staffing for many decades was by native talent from West Virginia
trained at WVU itself. Things have changed, and the faculty now has
representation from numerous other states and countries. West Virginia
University is no longer provincial, but truly international in
West Virginia University has produced some truly
outstanding graduates in mathematics, and the author asks humbly to be
forgiven as he reminisces about a few of these mathematics students he
has known and worked with in his 49-year career as a professor at WVU.
This is not an all-inclusive list, but just a sampling of opportunities
Addison M. Fischer
, B.A., 1970, M.A. 1972, math.,
Expert on security of computer data, founded five
companies, made major contributions to U.S. security,
major efforts to save Amazon rain forests, is helping protect the
oceans, and built a school in Naples,
Florida. With his knowledge of computer software he made $16,000,000 within 10 years of graduating
In Feb. 2010 he was inducted into the WVU Academy of Distinguished Alumni.
See photos posted here on my web page.
Thomas Ashland Chapman
, B.A., math., June 1962.
Ph.D. Louisiana State Univ., 1970.
He proved the invariance of Whitehead torsion. Was at the Institute for Advanced Study
shortly after receiving his Ph.D, Taught at Univ. of Kentucky, now retired.
As an undergraduate student at WVU he worked out a generalization of the Kuratowski
closure problem; it was published in the Mathematics Magazine,
Thomas Ray Nicely
, B.S. 1963, M.S. 1965.
Ph.D., applied mathematics Univ. of Virginia, 1971.
Expert on twin prime gaps. In 1994 he discovered the errors in the Intel Pentium chip that
forced IBM to recall millions of computers. Made Time Magazine for this work.
Taught many years at Lynchburg College, Virginia, now retired but very active,
Louis Worthy Kolitsch
, B.S.,Fairmont State College, 1979; M.S., math., WVU, 1981,
Ph.D., Penn. State Univ. 1985. Professor at University of Tennessee at Martin.
Early on found a recursive formula for the number of partitions of a natural number.
Richard Lynn Stalnaker
, B.S., aerospace engineering, 1964.
As a calculus student he worked out his own proof the Kuratowski closure problem.
Now has his own consulting firm. Can be considered as an early "rocket boy."
Allen Taylor Hopper
, B.S., Allegheny College,1959; M.D., WVU, 1961.
Ph.D. Case Institute (Now Case-Western Reserve Univ.), 1965.
First master's thesis student I directed; work that led to my NSF grants on combinatorial
Michael J. Kuchinski
, M.S. degree, WVU., 1977 on Correspondences between Catalan
Among other things he has developed "VERDICT: A distributed virtual environment for
system engineering,"explained in his book by this name. Works at Dahlgren, Va. with
U.S. Naval Research.
, Ph.D., WVU on number theory. Extended my 1964 work on the
relation between binomial coefficients and the bracket function. See Memorial article about
his life and work on this web page.
, Bachelor and Master degrees from WVU. Receives Departmental Alumni Recognition
Award from the Eberly College of WVU 1 May 2010.
It is interesting to observe that prior to the
establishment of our current Ph.D. program we sent students to other
universities to get their doctorates. Some years ago when the
University of Wisconsin built a new mathematics building they asked WVU
to send a speaker to be at the dedication of the building. They told us
they did this because we had sent so many excellent mathematics
students to their program. This again shows that there has always been
an opportunity for success coming out of our programs here in West
Revised 30 April 2010