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EPADEL:A Semisesquicentennial History, 1926-2000

Section 4.2 Leaders

Chapter 3 described the outstanding leadership the section received from a cadre of members who sustained the vitality, initially provided by the section’s three founders, from the organizational meeting in 1926 through 1932. As we have seen, the chairmen of the section during the period of establishment came from Philadelphia, the suburbs, the Lehigh Valley, and from outside the present section’s boundaries.
Table 4.2.1 addresses the section’s governance structure based on elections held at annual fall meetings from 1933 through 1941. Recall our convention that the year 1933 means that P. A. Caris was elected as secretary at the meeting in 1933 but carried out most of his duties during 1934. Caris continued to serve as secretary until 1941, whereupon Philip M. Whitman continued the unwritten tradition that the section’s secretary come from the University of Pennsylvania. Caris remained active in the section up to the time of his death in 1960, being elected chairman twice, in 1945 and 1950.
During this period the section prospered under nine different chairmen, only two of whom had been elected to office during the first seven years, H. H. Mitchell and Arnold Dresden. These nine represent geographical areas within the Philadelphia Section that are more scattered than during the preceding period: H. H. Mitchell and J. A. Shohat were from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, while J. Clawson (Ursinus College), A. Dresden (Swarthmore College), and C. O. Oakley (Haverford College) came from the suburbs. Three chairmen came from the Lehigh Valley: L. L. Smail and J. B. Reynolds from Lehigh University and W. M. Smith from neighboring Lafayette College. The remaining chairman was Richard Morris of Rutgers University. It might be pointed out that by the end of this period no representative from the University of Delaware had yet served as chairman of the section, a situation that would change dramatically in the 1940s.
Table 4.2.1.
Year Chairman Secretary Program Committee
1933 Smith Caris Brinkmann, Clawson, Morris
1934 Morris Caris Fort, Shohat, Smith
1935 Clawson Caris Brinkmann, Lehmer, Oakley
1936 Mitchell Caris Morris, Wilson
1937 Smail Caris Hedlund, Nelson, Smith
1938 Reynolds Caris Brinkmann, Fort, Kline
1939 Shohat Caris Allendoerfer, Clawson, Dresden
1940 Dresden Caris Oakley, Shohat, Smith
1941 Oakley Whitman Brinkmann (C), Davis, Shohat
The contributions that James Alexander Shohat made to the section warrant him a personal profile at the end of the chapter. Shohat emigrated from Russia in 1923, arriving a decade before the European wave that splashed ashore between 1933 and 1941. He became a naturalized citizen in 1929, but it was not until 1930 that he first visited the area, delivering an invited lecture at the section’s annual meeting. He moved to Philadelphia in 1931 as an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and remained there the rest of his life.
Since the careers of Arnold Dresden, Howard Mitchell, and James Reynolds have already been profiled, we provide biographical sketches of the five other chairmen in the order of their terms.
  • William Mackey (“Will”) Smith (1881-1966) is a native of Oxford, PA. He received a Ph. B. (Bachelor of Philosophy) degree from Lafayette College in 1903, and joined the faculty of his alma mater two years later as an instructor. However, he left that post for two years to enroll in the graduate program at Columbia University, where he received a Ph.D. in 1911. Smith then returned to Lafayette for a year before accepting an assistant professorship at the University of Oregon. Although promoted to full professor there after only one year, he returned to Lafayette as an associate professor in 1915 and remained at the Easton college for the rest of his life. He was appointed head of the department in 1934, a year after serving as the section’s chair. Like many Americans, Smith’s career was interrupted by World War II, when he served as the Director of War Studies at Lafayette from 1943 through 1945. He died in 1966 at the age of 85.
  • Richard Morris (1868-1951), who was born in Keyport, New Jersey, graduated from Peddie Institute in 1890. Even though it would be another six years before he would enroll at Rutgers, he entered as a sophomore because in the meantime he had acquired state certificates through study and teaching experience. He graduated from Rutgers with a B.S. in 1899 at age 30. That fall he served as superintendent of nearby schools, but at the same time he accepted an instructorship in the Department of Mathematics and Graphics and initiated graduate studies at his alma mater. He earned an M.S. in 1902. While Morris continued to be listed on the faculty at Rutgers, he pursued graduate studies at Cornell University, resulting in a Ph.D. in 1907. Upon graduation, Morris returned to Rutgers for the rest of his life, ending up teaching 45 years there. In 1918 he volunteered to teach at the new branch of the university, the New Jersey College for Women. Later he headed the department there; he also served as head of the mathematics department of the men’s colleges from 1913 to 1944. Morris was 66 years old when elected chairman of the Philadelphia Section in 1934. He retired as emeritus professor ten years later at age 76. Even at that point he devoted his time to tutoring Rutgers students, serving as a substitute teacher in the public schools, and filling vacancies in various pulpits of Methodist churches in the area. Morris died in New Brunswick at the age of 83.
  • John Wentworth Clawson (1881-1964) was born in St. John, New Brunswick. He took his bachelors and masters degrees from New Brunswick College in 1901 and 1905. In between he studied at Cambridge University in England. Clawson came to the department of mathematics and physics at Ursinus College in 1907. He taught at Ursinus and lived in Collegeville the rest of his life, spending the years 1947-1952 as dean of the college. Clawson was a charter member of the MAA 1  in 1916 and was elected chairman of the Philadelphia Section in 1935. Earlier he served two one- year stints on the Program Committee (now the Executive Committee) of the section, in 1930 and 1933. Clawson retired as emeritus professor in 1952 at age 70. He was an inveterate problem solver, beginning with his published solution to a problem in the January 1909 issue of the Monthly, ending with the solution to an Advanced Problem in the June/July 1957 issue, and including solutions to over 50 other problems in between. J. W. Clawson died in 1964 after having been an MAA 2  member for 48 years.
  • Lloyd Leroy Smail (1888-1955) was born in Kansas. He received two degrees from the University of Washington at Seattle, an A.B. in 1911 and an A.M. in 1912. The following year he received a Ph.D. from Columbia University. He then returned to the West Coast as an instructor at his alma mater. Smail left Washington for the University of Oregon two years later. He remained at Oregon for two years before heading to the University of Texas, but he left there after only one year to accept a position at Lehigh University. After relatively short durations at three land-grant universities, Smail stayed at Lehigh from 1926 until his retirement as emeritus professor in 1953. He was active in the Philadelphia Section since becoming one of its charter members in the fall of his arrival on the Bethlehem campus. In fact, he presented an invited lecture at the organizational meeting in November 1926. One month later he spoke at the national MAA 3 /AMS 4  meeting at the University of Pennsylvania, with both lectures centering on Dedekind’s theory of irrational numbers. Smail spoke again at the 1931 annual meeting of the Philadelphia Section. His last official participation with the section was his election to the Program Committee in 1947. When he died at age 66 he had been a member of the MAA 5  for 31 years.
  • Cletus Odia Oakley (1899-1990) was born in Texas. Today he is best known for his textbooks, especially his 1955 work Principles of Mathematics written with Carl B. Allendoerfer. After serving a one-year tour of duty with the U. S. Navy in 1918-1919 Oakley obtained three degrees in three-year increments, beginning with a bachelors from the University of Texas in 1923. After a one-year stint as an engineer with Western Electric Company, he accepted an instructorship at Brown University, where he stayed for two years, leaving in 1926 with a masters degree. He received his Ph.D. in 1929 at the University of Illinois under Robert Carmichael. Upon graduation Oakley returned to Brown to teach for another five years. He then came to Haverford College in 1934 and spent the rest of his life on the Main Line campus, serving as head of the department from 1942 until his retirement in June 1964. Of course he took several leaves during this tenure, with sabbaticals in 1947-1948, 1955-1956, and 1960-1961, and a leave of absence in 1952-1953. In addition to eight textbooks, Oakley published 14 papers (mostly on differential and integral equations) and served as associate editor of the Monthly for five years. In addition he was the chair of the mathematics committee of the College Entrance Examination Board and editor-in-chief of the mathematics section in Collier’s Encyclopedia. Oakley was also known as an excellent lecturer who was supported by the NSF to address teachers in states along the Atlantic seaboard. At Haverford, however, he was best known among students for his athletic prowess, especially in handball; a standing offer held that any student who beat him was guaranteed an A in his class. He defeated all comers into his late sixties. Upon retirement Oakley spent two years on a Fulbright grant, his fourth, working with teachers in Australia. He died at age 91 in Ann Arbor, where he lived with his son, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan.
Program Committee
Next we discuss the composition of the section’s Program Committee (today’s Executive Committee). During the period 1933-1941 a total of 15 different individuals were elected to the Committee. Ordinarily three people served on this committee, but in 1936 there were only two; the official report from the meeting held at Lafayette does not explain this anomaly. The notation (C) in the bottom row of Table 4.2.1 denotes the chairman, a designation that began only in 1941.
Membership on the Program Committee came from colleges and universities located in the city of Philadelphia, its environs, the Lehigh Valley, and New Jersey, but it did not include representation from Delaware or the northern or western part of the section’s geographical boundaries. Altogether 15 different individuals served the 26 terms in this period. The suburban Philadelphia area dominated membership on the Committee, with 12 terms (46%): Swarthmore College’s three members served six terms (Brinkmann four; Dresden and Wilson one each), Haverford College’s two members served three terms (Oakley two, Allendoerfer one), while Ursinus College’s Clawson served two terms and Bryn Mawr’s Hedlund served one. The Lehigh Valley came next in representation, with 6 terms (23%): Lehigh University provided three terms (Fort two and Lehmer one) and so did Lafayette College (Smith served all three). The city of Philadelphia garnered five terms (19%): the University of Pennsylvania provided four (Shohat three, Kline one), while Drexel Institute’s Davis served one. In addition, Rutgers University’s Morris served two terms, while the New Jersey College for Women’s Nelson, also located at Rutgers, served one.
Just like the preceding period, almost all members of the Program Committee, 11 of the 15, were elected chairman of the section at one time or another from 1928 to 1952. A chronological listing of the chairmen suggests the extent of this group’s influence, especially during the 1930s: 1928 (Wilson), 1930 (Fort), 1931 (Dresden), 1932 (Kline), 1933 (Smith), 1934 (Morris), 1935 (Clawson), 1939 (Shohat), 1940 (Dresden), 1941 (Oakley), 1942 (Davis), 1944 (Nelson), and 1952 (Nelson). Recall our convention that brief biographies of chairs appear in the chapters covering the year of the first term. Two members of the Committee are deserving of special mention.
  • Carl Barnett Allendoerfer (1911-1974) graduated from Haverford College in 1932, after which he held a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to Cambridge University before receiving his Ph.D. at Princeton University in 1937. Allendoerfer joined the faculty at his alma mater Haverford College in 1946 but stayed there only five years, one of which (1948-1949) was spent at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. He then went to the University of Washington, where he became one of the most active members of the national MAA 6 , serving as President for 1959-1960. Upon his death in 1974 the MAA 7  honored him by establishing Allendoerfer Awards for outstanding expository articles in Mathematics Magazine.
  • Heinrich Wilhelm Brinkmann (1898-1989) was born in Hanover, Germany. Heine Brinkmann received all his higher education in the U.S. and ultimately became a naturalized citizen. He earned a bachelors degree from Stanford University in 1920 and then accepted an instructorship there for a year. During this period he was strongly interested in group theory by Hans Blichfeldt, and he helped W. A. Manning write his book Primitive Groups. During the summer of 1922 G. D. Birkhoff became Stanford’s first visiting professor. He met Brinkmann and prompted him to apply to Harvard for graduate school. When the prestigious university officially offered Brinkmann admission to the graduate program later that year, he replied with a terse telegraph message, “Yes.” He earned a masters degree in 1923 and a Ph.D. in 1925, while holding a Sheldon Fellowship during 1923- 1924. He wrote his dissertation on Riemann spaces under Birkhoff. After graduation, Brinkmann spent a post-doctoral year with Emmy Noether at Göttingen before returning to Harvard as a faculty member. He was a very popular teacher; 50 years later his former student J. L. Brenner recalled, “Brinkmann’s classes were among the most brilliantly organized ... he raised questions in just the right way.” In 1933 Brinkmann moved to Swarthmore College, where he remained for the rest of his life. He held the College’s Magill Professorship from 1957 to 1965 and the Buffington Professorship from 1965 until his retirement four years later. In 1971 he and future section chair Eugene Klotz published the book Linear Algebra and Analytic Geometry. Like several Swarthmore mathematicians, Brinkmann played musical instruments. He became one of the most active mathematicians in the Philadelphia Section during the 1930s, serving a record four terms on the Program Committee. He also delivered invited lectures at annual meetings in 1933, 1941, and 1955. Heine Brinkmann died at age 90 in nearby Wallingford.