Mathematics was present from the very beginning at Rutgers. To illustrate this point, consider the following items. The first math major (De Witt) helped win the Revolutionary War with his surveying. The first professor at Rutgers was a mathematician (Adrain), and his salary was endowed with a 2-year lottery. The most famous mathematician ever associated with Rutgers was an undergraduate (George Hill). The Land Grant status of Rutgers was due to a mathematician (Murray) and George Cook (of Cook College). Finally, numerous buildings and roads at Rutgers bear the names of people who have taught mathematics here: Frelinghuysen, Taylor, Murray, Van Dyck, Titsworth and Morris.
The history of mathematics at Rutgers is bound up with Rutgers' unique history, compared with other American universities. It has been at various times a colonial college, a small private college, a land grant school, a hodge-podge of different colleges, and finally a modern State University. The role of mathematics at Rutgers has been different in each of these eras.
Many other branches of the University had their origins in the Mathematics Department or its ancestors. Until 1877, Rutgers had a string of "Professors of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy", whose interests were clearly Mathematics and not Natural Philosophy (Adrain, Strong, Murray and Rockwood). The Chemistry and Physics departments sprang up to augment this position, with the arrival of Lewis Beck (1830) and Francis Van Dyck (1866) to teach courses that had been previously taught together with mathematics. Civil and Mechanical Engineering gradually branched off of Mathematics during the era 1866-1903. The Statistics Department split off in 1952, the Computing Center (now RUCS) in 1963, and the Computer Science Department in 1966. In the 1980's both RUTCOR and DIMACS emerged as separate entitites, largely out of the Mathematics Department.
I am indebted to many current and recently retired faculty for passing on the Math Department's oral history to me. I have attempted to piece these memories together with written archives in this document. Some of the history I describe before 1945 is taken from books, especially McCormick's Rutgers: A Bicentennial History, and some comes from files in the Special Collections and University Archives section of Alexander Library. For modern non-oral history, I benefitted from the archives of several departments: Chemistry, Computer Science, RUCS, SCILS, Statistics, and our own. But my greatest debt by far is to my wife, Laurel Van Leer, whose research for her guidebook Where RU? inspired me in the first place. Many of the interesting facts about Rutgers are extracted from her research for her forthcoming guidebook.
Although Queen's College was chartered in 1766, it was nothing but a Board of Trustees until classes began in November, 1771. The lone tutor was Frederick Frelinghuysen, who left in 1773 to study law. The building used was the former tavern "Sign of the Red Lion" on Albany Street, located where the sidewalk in front of Johnson & Johnson corporate headquarters is today (at Neilson Street). The subjects taught were "learned languages (Greek and Latin), Liberal Arts and Sciences, ... and English." Freshmen and Sophomores studied the Whole Numbers and Arithmetic, Juniors and Seniors studied Logic and Trigonometry. (Today some of this material is taught in Math Computational Skills 023.)
Frederick Frelinghuysen (1753-1804) was only one of many famous Frelinghuysens connected with Rutgers/Queen's, and he was also the step-son of its first President, Jacob Hardenberg. After leaving Queen's, he was a member of the Provincial Congress (1775-6), a colonel in the Continental Army (1776-1782), attended the U.S. Continental Congress (1782-3) and was the first U.S. Senator from New Jersey (1793-96). Frelinghuysen Road on Busch Campus is named after him.
The second tutor at Queen's was John Taylor (1751-1801), who taught the same curriculum from 1773 to 1790. Of course this was a stormy era, since it spanned the Revolutionary War and the founding of the United States. College was suspended from July 27 to October 21, 1775 and again from December 1, 1776 until late 1777 because the British Army occupied New Brunswick under General William Howe. On Christmas Day 1776 both Frelinghuysen and Taylor crossed the Delaware River with General George Washington and fought in the Battle of Trenton.
The first "math major" to graduate was Simeon De Witt. He was the only graduate in the class of 1776 (between British occupations), and became General Washington's Chief Geographer in the Revolutionary War. His maps of Yorktown helped win the final battle of that war. Afterwards (1784-1834) he was the Surveyor General for New York State; he helped to plan the Erie Canal, and to develop the grid system of streets and avenues in New York City, among other things. De Witt Hall in front of Alexander Library is named for him; it housed the Math Department from 1959 to 1971.
In 1777-81 Queen's was a college on the run. Taylor and his students boarded with farmers and held classes in North Branch (west of Somerville), and later in Millstone (8 miles west of New Brunswick). Taylor spent his sabbatical year 1779-80 fighting the British, while John Bogart filled in as a temporary tutor. Taylor was promoted to Professor of Natural Philosophy and Mathematics in 1781. In 1784, Taylor was not paid and quit; Frederick Frelinghuysen stepped in for a few years until Taylor got his back pay. In 1790 Taylor finally left for greener academic pastures, ending up at Union College. Both Taylor Road and the Taylor Classroom Building (torn down in 1998) on Busch Campus are named after him.
From 1790-1795 there was a succession of seven tutors at Queen's, the most important being Charles Smith. In 1791 the College moved out of the Red Lion (which resumed being a tavern) into a two-story building at the edge of town (George and Liberty Streets in New Brunswick), where Monument Square is today. Euclid's Elements (High School Geometry) and surveying were added to the math curriculum.
In 1795 Queen's College closed down for 12 years, due to a lack of money.
A burst of donations from the members of the Dutch Reformed Church allowed Queen's College to reopen in 1807. Rev. Ira Condict (1764-1811) taught all the upper levels for a token salary of $100 per year. (Condict Street off Easton Avenue is named for him.) The lower classes were taught by Charles Smith and Rev. Condict's son Harrison Condict. Entrance requirements at that time included some Latin and Greek, and an ability "to perform any ordinary exercise in vulgar arithmetik" (the contents of the first half of today's Computational Skills 025, up to ratios and percentages). Total college enrollment was just under 30 in the heyday of Queen's.
In December 1809 the Board of Trustees hired its first professor, Robert Adrain (1775-1843). Although Adrain was hired as professor of "Mathematics and Natural Philosophy" (as General Science was called), he actually taught all of the upper level subjects at Queen's except Moral Philosophy and Composition, which Condict still taught. Freshmen and Sophomores were still taught by a tutor.
Robert Adrain was born in County Antrim, Ireland and emmigrated after the Irish Rebellion of 1798. Adrain and N. Bowditch were probably the two premier mathematicians in America before 1876. An 1804 article by Adrain was the first attempt to introduce Diophantine analysis into America. In 1809, while analyzing errors in surveying and dead reckoning at sea, Adrain discovered the Gauss Distribution in Probability Theory, demonstrating that errors are distributed according to a bell-shaped curve f(x) = C exp(-hx^2). Adrain was unaware that the French mathematician Adrien Legendre had asserted this without proof in 1805, and Karl Friedrich Gauss was to give a more rigorous proof later on, but Adrain's was the first proof. Adrain subsequently used this discovery to improve estimates of the earth's ellipticity and diameter. Adrain also edited most of the American mathematical journals of the era, including the Mathematical Diary which he founded in 1825. Since 1984, there has been an Adrain Chair of Mathematics at Rutgers, which is currently held by Francois Treves.
The classes used notes from Adrain's American edition of Hutton's A Course in Mathematics. Consisting mostly of rules to memorize without explanation (like all British texts of the time), the first 400 pages covered computations of square roots (up to 9 decimal places), logarithms, solutions of cubic equations and trigonometry. The last 100 pages of this book, written by Adrain, consists of applications to surveying (trig), brickwork (volume), carpentry and masonry (surface area), plumbing, etc. Copies of Adrain's 1816 edition of Hutton's book are preserved in the Special Collections at Alexander Library. Surveying and nautical astronomy were also part of the very practical mathematics curriculum in this era.
Adrain soon got two colleagues. In 1810 Queen's got its second professor (in Theology), John Livingston. Livingston was also the President of Queen's and imported his Seminary - now the New Brunswick Theological Seminary - from New York City. After Ira Condict died in 1811, Queen's got its third professor (in Languages and Moral Philosophy), John Schureman. When Adrain was lured away to Columbia in 1813 his place was taken by Henry Vethake (1792-1866), who then became the second Professor of Mathematics (and Science), during 1813-1816. After Queen's College closed in 1816, Vethake taught at Princeton (1817-1821) and later at the University of Pennsylvania.
In the fall of 1811, Queen's College moved to the building now known as "Old Queen's." The New Jersey Legislature gave the Trustees permission in 1812 to hold a lottery in order to pay for the cost overruns in building Old Queen's, and Adrain's salary. However, the lottery never raised enough money and there were no winners. Dragged down in debt, Queen's College closed down at the end of 1816. The building was turned over to the Dutch Reformed Church, who used it to house a professor at the Theological Seminary, the Rector of the Grammar School, and one cow.
In the early 1820's the Trustees still controlled the original Queen's Professorial Fund, and continued trying to revive Queen's College. Finally they succeeded, entering into the Covenant of 1825 with the General Synod of the Dutch Church, in which the Synod promised money in exchange for control of the College's finances. Since it was difficult to raise funds for a school named after the Queen consort of the British King - George III - the Trustees found it expedient to change the name from Queen's College to Rutgers College, in honor of Henry Rutgers, a prominent member of the Dutch Church. The renamed college was reactivated on November 14, 1825 with 30 students, 2 full-time professors and 3 part-time professors on loan from the Theological Seminary.
Robert Adrain was rehired as the Professor of Mathematics, at an annual salary of $1,750. His decision to move back from New York City was influenced by his wife's health and the fresh country air in New Brunswick! In addition to teaching the math courses at Rutgers, Adrain also had to teach Geography to Freshmen, and taught Natural Philosophy (Physics and Astronomy) to Seniors. The course on Logic was taught by Rev. John De Witt, the Professor of Biblical Literature. The rest of the Rutgers faculty consisted of the Professor of Languages (Rev. Brownlee), the President and Professor of Theology (Rev. Milledoler) and another theology professor, Rev. Woodhull.
The Mathematics Chair was endowed with $20,000 raised by a lottery run for that sole purpose. The New Jersey Legislature sanctioned it in early 1824 as a legal carryover of the old 1821 lottery, and money was collected for almost 2 years before the College was forced to halt it and distribute the prizes.
Theodore Strong (1790-1869) arrived in 1827, when Adrain left for the University of Pennsylvania. Strong was the entire mathematics faculty at Rutgers for 34 years; from 1839 until 1863 he was also Rutgers' Vice President. In 1830, the faculty expanded: Lewis Beck became the first professor of Chemistry and Natural Philosophy. This let Strong focus on math and physics classes. As a teacher Strong occasionally digressed into issues far beyond the ordinary student. This benefitted his top students, of whom two are worth special mention. One was George W. Coakley (Rutgers class of 1836). He became professor of mathematics at the College of St. James (1845-1860) and finally at New York University (1860-1893). The other was George W. Hill (Rutgers class of 1859), about whom we shall say more shortly.
Calculus was introduced to the math curriculum at this time, using Young's Analytical Geometry and Differential Calculus in the Junior year. Although the admissions standards hadn't changed since 1807, the Freshmen now used Euclid's Elements, Hassler's Arithmetic and Bonnycastle's Algebra. Sophomores used Legendre's Geometry, and Day's Mathematics for trigonometry, surveying and navigation. Seniors took electives. Prayers started each day at 9 AM, and classes ran from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM, 5 days a week. Sunday Church attendance was required, of course.
In his book, Demarest tells the following typical story to illustrate how rigid the curriculum was at Rutgers College. Encouraged by his mentor Strong, George Hill tried to push his studies beyond the set material in 1858. All four of the other College faculty firmly discouraged such a breach of decorum.
After Adrain and Nathaniel Bowditch, Theodore Strong was perhaps the best American mathematician of the early 19th century, publishing about 70 papers and two books. In 1827 Strong solved the "boat problem," describing the path a boat would take in order to cross a stream and land at a given spot in the shortest time (it is a curved path). Bowditch and Strong were instrumental in transforming American mathematics from a practical problem-solving discipline into a more theoretical science. By the 1850's Strong was particularly interested in planetary motion, especially when small forces perturbed the usual elliptical orbits.
Strong was one of the original members of the National Academy of Sciences, which was created by Congress in 1863. In addition, he was an active member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Strong Road on Busch Campus is named for him; it is one block long, running parallel to Davidson Road between Titsworth Road and Johnson Apartments.
George William Hill (1838-1914) graduated from Rutgers in 1859, under the venerable professor Strong. As a senior, Hill received the prize given by Harvard's Mathematics Journal for the solution of a problem. Apparently he had absorbed Strong's interest in planetary motion, for he made that his life's work. He worked for the Nautical Almanac in Cambridge, Massachusetts from 1861-1892, during which time he developed the theory of differential equations necessary to make tables for the Almanac, describing to 12 decimal places the orbits of Venus, Jupiter and Saturn (1872-4) and finally the Moon (1877). In 1874 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and in 1887 he received the medal of the British Royal Astronomical Society. In his 1886 article in Acta Mathematica he developed the theory of the linear differential equation:
Let us return to pick up the story of Rutgers College. Little had changed in the operation of Rutgers between 1825 and 1859, except that the entire faculty had aged. In 1859 the Rutgers Trustees had to tell four of the five professors to retire. The faculty's lone holdover was George Cook (who had been recently hired as the Chemistry professor upon Beck's death in 1853). Although Strong did retire from the faculty, he continued to teach Senior seminars until 1861, and he remained Vice President of Rutgers until 1863, when he was 73 years old.
Rutgers hired four younger people to replace the retired faculty. The new Professor of Mathematics was Rev. Marshall Henshaw (1820-1900), who taught the 164 Rutgers students for four years, from 1859 until he resigned in 1863 to head the Williston Seminary. Henshaw was replaced by David Murray, an event which began a new chapter in the overall history of Rutgers.
Murray immediately teamed up with Cook at the faculty meeting that December to propose that Rutgers secure an endowment for Rutgers to start a "Scientific School in the Agricultural and Mechanical Arts." Their proposal was based on the 1862 Morrill Act, which sold off land in the vast American West to settlers and used the money to endow one college in each state "to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanical arts," and to teach military tactics.(New Jersey's grant was 210,000 acres in Utah, which it sold for < $119,594.) Cook and Murray drew up two 3-year curricula, one in Civil and Mechanical Engineering, and another in Chemistry and Agriculture. After intense lobbying efforts, the New Jersey Legislature selected Rutgers over Princeton as its Land Grant College in 1864. That year the Trustees also purchased the 100-acre Voorhees farm from the estate of James Neilson; it is the land where Cook College is today. In September, 1866 Major Josiah Kellogg was installed as Professor of Civil Engineering and Superintendent of Military Instruction, and the Scientific School was off and running. Most students studied engineering, but the Scientific School would eventually be known as the Agricultural College.
David Murray published a Manual on Surveying and surveyed much of New Jersey in the next decade. His 1864-67 surveys with George Cook established the marine boundary between New York and New Jersey. The land boundary between New York and New Jersey was fixed by the 1872 Cook-Murray-Bowser survey. In 1871 he wrote An Early History of Queen's College. He also befriended the Japanese students at Rutgers, often inviting them to his home. Thus when the Japanese government came to discuss education reform, Murray was full of ideas. Murray resigned in 1873 to become the education advisor to Japanese government until 1879. After returning to the US he became secretary of the Regents of New York University until 1889. In 1896 he wrote a history of education in New Jersey (grades 1-12). He also served as a Rutgers trustee from 1892 until his death in 1905. The first Engineering building at Rutgers, built in 1908, was renamed Murray Hall in 1964. It was the home of the Math Department from 1909 until 1946.
The entrance exams for the new Scientific School required students to "extract the cube root of 77 to 3 decimal places," and to do word problems amounting to solving 4x=5y+50, where x+y=197. Applicants also had to "state the difference between an adjective and an adverb" and to name the Great Lakes. Classes were still held in the Old Queen's building. All students studied algebra and geometry the first year, while the second and third courses in engineering included differential and integral calculus. From now until 1900, classes would run from 9 AM to 1 PM, with prayers moved to 8:40 AM.
Murray quickly found himself buried in administrative duties, and two tutors were hired to assist him in teaching, Isaac Hasbrouk in 1867 and Edward Bowser in 1868. By 1868 Murray only had to teach Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays. The tutors eventually became professors, marking the beginning of the tenure-track system at Rutgers. Until World War I there would be three mathematicians on the Rutgers Faculty, and a professor's salary would remain $2,700 per year during this 50-year period.
Isaac Hasbrouk (Rutgers class of 1865) was hired as tutor in 1867 to assist Murray. Hasbrouk was promoted to Adjunct Professor in 1872, and to Professor of Mathematics and Graphics in 1877. In 1884, Rutgers' new president Gates persuaded several of the faculty, including Hasbrouk, to resign.
Francis Van Dyck was hired as tutor in 1866 to help Murray teach Natural Philosophy. He became Professor of Analytic Chemistry in 1871 and Professor of Physics in 1880. This was the beginning of today's Physics Department. Van Dyck would later become Rutgers College's first dean (1901-1912).
Edward Bowser (Rutgers class of 1868) was hired as tutor in 1868, and became an adjunct professor in 1870. When Major Kellogg resigned the next year, Bowser was promoted to Professor of Mathematics and Civil Engineering, retiring only in 1904.
Edward Bowser (1837-1910) was born in New Brunswick, Canada. He was in the first class to receive the new B.S. degree from the Rutgers Scientific School in 1868. Upon graduation, he was hired as tutor in Mathematics and Engineering. He taught on the first floor and lived on the third floor of the Old Queen's building. He was the surveyor on the 1872 Cook-Murray-Bowser team, whose survey fixed the land boundary between NY and NJ. (The transit man was Alfred Titsworth, who was then a student.) Bowser was also a prolific writer of textbooks, writing one mathematics textbook per year for over a decade. After his death, the Royalties from Bowser's books went to Rutgers and amounted to over $15,000. Appropriately, the road on Busch campus connecting the Mathematics and Engineering parking lots is named Bowser Road.
By 1889 Bowser's books were synonymous with the Rutgers math curriculum. To be admitted to Rutgers, a student needed familiarity with the first 15 chapters of Bowser's College Algebra (up to solutions of quadratic equations). The remaining 10 chapters of College Algebra were covered in the Freshman year. This text is available on the web these days and is worth a look. Those 10 chapters covered continued fractions, infinite series, logarithms and exponentials, derivatives of polynomials, Newton's method, complex numbers, elementary number theory and elementary probability theory. Today this material is scattered throughout the upper level courses in mathematics! Sophomores used Bowser's Analytic Geometry, whileJuniors used Bowser's Differential and Integral Calculus. The Senior Curriculum did not include math.
After Murray resigned in 1873, Charles Rockwood (1843-1913) became Professor of Mathematics, Natural Philosophy and Astronomy, until he left for Princeton in 1877. His 1866 Ph.D. from Yale was one of the first American Ph.D.'s in mathematics. George Merriman (1834-1928) was hired in 1877 from the University of Michigan as Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy (Experimental Mechanics was added to his title in 1880-82). He stayed until 1891, and later worked at the U.S. Naval Observatory. William Breazeale was an instructor during 1892-95 while working on his Masters Degree (Rutgers, 1895). He was promoted to Acting Associate Professor in 1895, and was Professor of Mathematics during 1913-1933. Richard Morris (1868-1951, Rutgers class of 1899, Rutgers MSc 1902) was instructor in 1899-1905, Associate Professor in 1905 (upon Bowser's retirement) and finally Professor of Mathematics and Graphics in 1909, retiring in 1944. Ezra Scattergood (MSc 1897) and Francis Van Dyck Jr. (AM 1899) were also instructors of mathematics during this era.
Alfred Titsworth (1852-1936, Rutgers BSc 1877, MSc 1880) became Professor of Mathematics and Graphics in 1886, joining Bowser and Merriman (and replacing Hasbrouk). In 1903 his title changed to Professor of Civil Engineering and Graphics, and he was the first Dean of Engineering from 1914 to 1921. During this time, he wrote Elements of Mechanical Drawing. In 1921 he left the Engineering Department to become a Professor of Mathematics again, teaching at Rutgers and at the N.J. College for Women (now Douglass College) until his retirement in 1928. Titsworth Road on Busch Campus is named for him; it runs parallel to Taylor Road, starting from Davidson Road.
This was an era of colorful student life. The most colorful and famous event was the first intercollegiate football game, which was played at Rutgers College on November 6, 1869 with Rutgers beating Princeton 6-4. Less well-known were the intercollegiate mathematics contests, held from 1874 until 1879 in a debating format. Robert Prentiss (Rutgers class of 1878) took second place as a senior. The peak enrollment in this era was 251 Rutgers students, in 1891, and students now took 20 hours of classes per week.
Meanwhile the Rutgers curriculum steadily expanded. Electrical Engineering was added to the Scientific School curriculum in 1888. The first subject majors were established in the Classical curriculum in 1891, along with the introduction of a system of electives. Thus math majors officially appeared before the Math Department existed (1906).
On November 24 1888, the New York Mathematical Society was founded. Bowser, Prentiss, Hill and Rockwood joined the NYMS as it expanded its scope. Soon the NYMS had outgrown its city origins and reconstituted itself in 1894 as the American Mathematical Society (AMS). It elected George W. Hill (Rutgers class of 1859) as the first president of the AMS, 1894-96.
Former student Robert Prentiss (1857-1913) was hired by Rutgers as its first Associate Professor in 1891 and promoted to Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy the next year. His research interests were Harmonic Analysis and Astronomy, but his real love seems to have been his popular lectures on meteorites and the origins of the Universe. By 1898 he became the Secretary of the Faculty. In 1903 he became the director of the Schanck Observatory at Rutgers, and remained very active until his untimely death in 1913.
Rutgers had begun to encourage postgraduate study in 1870, awarding a certificate to people who took an extra undergraduate course after graduation. Typically, they were also appointed as "Tutor in Mathematics" while taking such courses. The first MSc degrees in Mathematics were awarded to James Barton (BSc 1871; Tutor 1873-74; MSc 1874) and Albert S. Cook (BSc 1872; Tutor 1872-73; MSc 1875). Other postgraduate students of this era went on to become professors at Rutgers: Titsworth (MSc 1880); Prentiss (MSc 1881); Breazeale (Instructor of Math 1872-75, MSc 1895); and Morris (MSc 1902). The Mathematics Department had other graduate students of this type in the 1890's including: De Witt, Scattergood (MSc 1897), VanDyck Jr. (AM 1899). In 1906, F. Pratt was such a graduate student, then Instructor of Math and eventually Professor of Physics at Rutgers.
During the era 1906-1930, there were no Masters degrees awarded in Mathematics. In fact, the Mathematics department did not admit any graduate students from its creation in 1906 until 1929, when the modern Masters degree was created at Rutgers (see below). Elsewhere at Rutgers, a 2-year graduate program had began to crystallize. Still consisting of students taking senior level courses and sometimes writing a thesis, it grew slowly from a handful of students in 1906 to 35 Masters students in 1925. About two-thirds of these students were in Agricultural subjects, but there were also graduate students in Engineering and Chemistry, and a few in Economics, German and History.
However, the first Masters degree in Mathematics was not awarded until 1930 (Charles Eason). The first two Ph.D.'s awarded at Rutgers were in 1884 (Botany) and 1912 (Soil Bacteriology). W. Rieman would receive the first non-agricultural Ph.D. (Chemistry) in 1925, but the first mathematics Ph.D. was only awarded in 1951 (to George Cherlin, a Rutgers graduate (BSc 1947) and father of the current faculty member Gregory Cherlin).
The Math Department was formally organized in 1906. In 1909 it moved out of the ground floor of Old Queen's and into the second floor of the new Engineering Building. After all, most of the mathematics faculty had joint appointments in Engineering at that time. Professor Prentiss' office was large enough for the Civil Engineering Club to hold meetings there. The Math Department would remain in the Engineering Building until 1946.
By 1914 a new feature had appeared at Rutgers - the Administration. Louis Bevier became Dean of Rutgers College when Van Dyck retired in 1912, and Alfred Titsworth was promoted to Dean of Mechanic Arts in 1914. At this time most departments were given appointed chairmen to interact with the Administration. Richard Morris was appointed the first Chairman of the Math Department in 1914, and would remain the chairman until he retired in 1944.
Richard Morris (1868-1951) was the dynamic leader of the Mathematics Department during this era. Hired in 1899 as Instructor and promoted to Associate in 1905, he was a Professor of Mathematics at Rutgers from 1909 until his retirement in 1944. His 1907 Ph.D. from Cornell concerned automorphic functions on Riemann surfaces, but most of his later publications were in mathematics education. In 1914 he became the first president of the Association of Math Teachers of NJ, and was very active in giving talks to high school math clubs in the state. He was also an ordained Methodist minister. He was Chair of the Rutgers Math Department from 1915 until 1944, and Chair of the NJC Math Department after 1918. He was one of the most popular members of the faculty, and the undergraduates affectionately called him 'Dickie' Morris. Morris Road on Busch Campus is named in his honor; like Strong Road, it is one block long, running parallel to Davidson Road between Titsworth Road and Johnson Apartments.
There had been two distinct program "Curricula" for students at Rutgers (Scientific and Classical), but in 1907 all courses were organized into departments and numbered. The Math Department offered 24 courses annually (8 courses per term), numbered 381-404. Titsworth taught 3 Geometry courses to Sophomore Engineers (and several courses in Civil Engineering). Prentiss taught Astronomy and Analytic Geometry (plane curves and conic surfaces) to students in both Curricula, Hydromechanics to Seniors in the Scientific Curriculum and Differential Equations to Seniors in the Classical Curriculum. Prentiss and Breazeale team-taught Calculus and Breazeale taught other courses in Engineering. Morris taught Freshman Algebra and Trigonometry, as well as Graphics. In addition to these heavy teaching duties, each professor was the faculty advisor for about 10 students.
By 1909 the distinction between the Scientific and Classical Curricula had faded away. In 1916 the curriculum was revised again, requiring 14 hours in math and science, 134 hours to graduate. Calculus was now a standard course taken in the Sophomore year. Math placement tests for entering students were introduced in 1922, because most entering students now came from public high schools, as opposed to the situation in Bowser's era when almost all students came from preparatory schools.
The Math Department still had 3 full professors and one instructor in 1920. Stanley Brasefield (1873-1949, 1912 Ph.D. from Cornell) came to Rutgers in 1913 as Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Graphics, replacing Prentiss. He was promoted to Associate in 1915, made Professor of Applied Mathematics in 1916, and retired in 1943. Emory Starke was hired in 1919 as Instructor of Mathematics and would become a guiding force in the department until the 1960's. He received a Ph.D. from Columbia in 1927. In addition to teaching, Starke was a professional organist and gave musical recitals with his wife.
Also in 1917, Congress passed the Smith-Hughes Act, supplementing the 1862 Morrill Act. It offered money for teaching Home Economics at all land-grant colleges. Who could refuse? In 1918, the Trustees established the New Jersey College for Women (called "NJC") as a department of Rutgers University (which was legally the land grant school). Thus NJC was created as a subset of Rutgers University, which was a subset of Rutgers College. Its name would stay NJC until 1955, when it was renamed Douglass College.
At first, all of NJC's 17 faculty members were volunteers from Rutgers College across town. For example, Richard Morris taught the first mathematics classes at NJC, and also served as an academic advisor there. Professor Titsworth also taught mathematics at NJC during 1921-1928. In order to coordinate teaching, 'Dickie' Morris was appointed Chairman of the new NJC Mathematics Department in 1919. A full professor's salary was only $3,750, and other math faculty augmented their pay by taking additional duties at the College for Women. During 1922-28 NJC hired Ruth Thompson as Instructor in Math, the first woman mathematician at Rutgers.
The first permanent math faculty to arrive at NJC were Albert Meder in 1926 and Cyril Nelson in 1927. Looking ahead, Albert Meder (1903- ) would teach mathematics at NJC/Douglass for 42 years. He served as Acting Dean of NJC for two years, after Dean Douglass' untimely death in 1932. He entered the Administration in 1944, becoming the Secretary of the University and playing a crucial role in the 1945 reorganization of Rutgers discussed below. Meder was then appointed the Dean of the Administration (and known as "The Dean of Rutgers") from 1945 until 1968, and became the Vice Provost after 1963. Meder also served as the Treasurer of the American Mathematical Society in 1949. Cyril Nelson (1893-1984) would become the second chair of the NJC Math Department, from 1944 until his retirement in 1959. The NJC/Douglass Math Department itself would remain separate from the Rutgers College Math Department until 1981.
Returning to the early 1920's, the organizational situation at Rutgers got more confusing. In 1921 the College of Agriculture was created, also as a department of the "State University." In 1923 the Trustees voted to create the "College of Arts and Sciences" to contain all other units, but neglected to tell the faculty or to bring it into existence until 1925. The College of Arts and Sciences would be renamed "Rutgers College" in 1969, completing the circle. To recognize this internal reorganization, the Trustees adopted the new title Rutgers University in 1924. The new University contained several parts: the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Agriculture, the New Jersey College for Women, the College of Engineering and the School of Education, not to mention the new administrative bureaucracy.
The new University contained several parts: the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Agriculture, the New Jersey College for Women, the College of Engineering and the School of Education, not to mention the new administrative bureaucracy. The University Faculty was created in 1925 as part of this new bureaucracy. In 1933, it was replaced by an elected faculty body (University Council). In 1953 it was renamed the University Senate, and now represents all segments of the University.
In 1929, the University Faculty reformed the curriculum, creating both the Bachelor of Science degree (for Mathematics and Natural Sciences, among other possibilities) and graduate courses. An undergraduate award for mathematical excellence, the Bradley Mathematics Prize, established in 1926 and is still awarded annually; it was won in 1932 by Milton Friedman (1976 Nobel Prize in Economics). A second undergraduate prize, the Bogart Prize in Mathematics, has been awarded most years since 1932.
The Masters of Science degree was also created in 1929, in Mathematics and other subjects, requiring 24 graduate course hours and a written thesis (as it still does). The Math Department awarded 7 Masters of Science degrees in the 1930's, the first being awarded to Charles Eason in 1930; he was also the first African-American to get a graduate math degree from Rutgers. The first woman to receive a M.Sc. degree in Math was Eveline Stevens in 1934. Brasefield and Starke were the advisors for most of these students; their Masters theses may be inspected in Rutgers' Math Library.
In 1932 the Graduate Faculty was organized, with Prof. T. Nelson of Zoology as chairman. As it grew, it acquired an Executive Secretary (William Russell). In 1951, the Graduate Faculty was renamed The Graduate School, with Russell's title changed to Dean of the Graduate School. In 1981, it was renamed the The Graduate School - New Brunswick to reflect the presence of graduate programs on the Newark and Camden campuses (see below).
In 1934, the University established University College to attract part-time and evening students. Its classes were staffed by regular Rutgers College faculty such as Emory Starke, Malcolm Robertson and Fred Fender, who arrived at Rutgers in 1936.
Two other notable events occured in the 1930's which would affect the future development of Rutgers. The U.S. decided to build Route 1 right across College Farm (now Cook Campus), bisecting the land used by the Scientific School and forestalling expansion plans to the East of New Brunswick. And the Athletic Department expanded, acquiring a block of land in Piscataway called the River Road campus. The present football stadium was dedicated in 1938 with a rare victory over Princeton. Now Rutgers had a presence in Piscataway.
After the war ended, there was no way Rutgers could go back to its prewar identity. Fortunately, the New Jersey legislature intervened in 1945 to provide stability and a continued existence, passing a law that all units of Rutgers were to be "collectively designated as The State University of New Jersey". However the Rutgers trustees remained in control, and Rutgers was not yet a true State University: the educational facilities were held by the trustees as "a public trust for higher education."
In 1946, enrollment at Rutgers exploded to 3,200 students, many of them supported by the GI bill. This required a rapid expansion of the physical plant. The land next to the River Road stadium in Piscataway was acquired, and called University Heights (today it is Busch Campus). 300 flimsy apartments were erected there, and temporary housing was also arranged at the Army's Camp Kilmer and Raritan Arsenal (Livingston Campus and Middlesex County College today). For extra laboratory space, Rutgers erected 100 sheet-metal buildings called Quonset Huts; 40 on upper George Street and 60 on University Heights. Intending University Heights to be a science center, Rutgers built the Chemistry Building (Wright Labs) in 1951, and the Waksman Institute in 1954.
In 1945, the University statutes were revised, defining a new role for the faculty. Research scholarship was now recognized as an essential function of the faculty, complementary to teaching effectiveness and general usefulness in promotion criteria. The teaching load went from 15 hours to 12 hours per week to reflect this new priority. Faculty salaries ranged from $2400 for instructors to a maximum of $6000 for professors, with a provision for annual increments. The math faculty received research grants from the Rutgers Research Council, as well as from the Army, Navy and Air Force.
University College began hiring its own faculty in 1946, as a full evening program of classes was created. Ellis Ott was hired in 1947 to form a mathematics department, and served as the UC Math chair during 1947-59. By 1949 he was teaching three full-year courses in Statistics, courses which had been taught by the UC Economics and Sociology departments since 1940. Gradually a separate UC Mathematics Department formed at Rutgers, with up to 5 members in the UC Math Department. After Ellis Ott left to form the Statistics Center, Frank Clark became the chair from 1959 until 1975 and Larry Corwin was the chair during 1975-81.
In 1946, Rutgers University absorbed the University of Newark, a school which had been created in 1936 out of the "Dana group" of colleges in Newark. The resulting "Newark Colleges" of Rutgers University were housed in the former Ballantine brewery at 40 Rector Street in Newark, as the former University of Newark had been. The RU-Newark Mathematics Department created in 1946 is still a separate entity, with about 15 members.
In December 1975, the Graduate School of Rutgers in Newark was formally created, to administer certain graduate programs on that campus, but there was no program in mathematics. Between 1975 and 1990, the Newark math department hired several research mathematicians during the 1980's, largely in collaboration with the New Brunswick Math chair, Dan Gorenstein. In 1995, a joint PhD program in Mathematics was created between Rutgers-Newark and the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).
Finally, Rutgers University absorbed the College of South Jersey in 1950, renaming it the College of Arts and Sciences at Camden. This had been founded in 1927 as a junior college affiliated with the South Jersey Law School. The reason for this merger was to rescue the Law School from disacreditation by merging it with the pre-existing Law School in Newark. In 1981, the Graduate School of Camden was created; it only offers Masters degrees. RU-Camden also has its own separate Mathematics department, with about 15 members. RU-Camden began offering a MSc. in Mathematics in 1994.
In 1956 another law changed the name of Rutgers University to Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey. Financial control was handed over to a Board of Governors controlled by the State of New Jersey, in expectation of more funding. At this point Rutgers became a true State University.
We now return to the New Brunswick Mathematics Department (in the College of Arts and Sciences).
Upon Morris' retirement in 1944, Emory Starke was appointed Acting Chair of the Math Department. He was then re-elected chairman every 3 years until 1961. As student enrollment was unpredictable, Starke had to hire new faculty each September. An extra 40 students translated into an extra faculty line. And by 1947 enrollment had climbed to 4,200.
At this time the Math Department was still located in room E204 of the Engineering Building (Murray Hall). Starke's office was the rear of the long room; the rest of the math faculty used the front of E204 for their office. It had 11 coathooks and one large standup drafting table, but no chairs. One of Starke's first decisions was to move the department out of that cramped room to a house at 50 College Avenue (opposite Scott Hall, which was built in 1963). This would be the "Mathematics House" from 1945 until 1959. It was destroyed by fire in December 1999, and no longer exists.
In this era, the only senior research-active member of the Math Department was Malcolm Robertson. Malcolm Robertson (1906- ) was born in Ontario, and received his Ph.D. in 1934 from Princeton. He came to Rutgers in 1937 as an Instructor, becoming a professor in 1950. His research specialty was univalent functions in Complex Analysis. Many of his 36 publications appeared in prestigious journals such as the Annals of Mathematics. In 1959 he became Rutgers' first Director of Graduate Studies in Mathematics. He left for the University of Delaware in 1966.
Malcolm Robertson pushed for the creation of a doctoral degree after the war, even teaching a graduate course on top of his regular teaching duties. The first Rutgers Ph.D. in Mathematics was awarded in 1951 to George Cherlin (Rutgers College 1947, and the father of current faculty member Gregory Cherlin). The second Ph.D. was awarded to Richard K. Brown in 1952, and the third went to Richard Gabriel in 1955. The fourth and fifth Ph.D's were awarded in 1958, to John Bender (Rutgers College 1951) and Bernard Greenspan; Bender went on to join the mathematics department at Rutgers Newark, retiring in the late 1980's. Robertson was the advisor for Cherlin, Brown, Gabriel and Bender, as well as most of the 50 M.Sc. degrees in mathematics granted during 1940-1959.
The math departments had doubled to 14 by 1950, with the arrival of Hy Zimmerberg (1945), Katharine Hazard (1945) and Richard Cohn (1947). Ken Wolfson and Sol Leader arrived in 1952. During this time, there were about 15 graduate students in Mathematics, and 5-6 graduate classes were offered each semester.
Television provided an opportunity to spread the word that mathematics can be fun. Channel 13 broadcast a 13-week show called "This is Mathematics" in 1954, with Fred Fender as the host. His show often featured marbles, blocks, pick-up sticks and other children's toys. He probably also told a few wartime stories about how he used mathematics as an electrical engineer working with early computing machines.
The Statistics Department grew out of the University College Math Department during this postwar era. We have already mentioned that Ellis Ott was hired in 1947 to form the UC Math Department, and to teach Statistics. Statistics students were primarily full-time employees of nearby industries, and the demand for such evening courses grew steadily. In 1952, the Rutgers Graduate Faculty approved a program in Applied and Mathematical Statistics, and Mason Wescott was hired to help Ellis Ott (who was still the chair of the UC Math Department). The first Masters degrees in Statistics were awarded in 1954. In 1959 the University established a Statistics Center to further encourage graduate research, and Ott left the UC Mathematics Department to direct it. This Center had 5 members, and also taught the same six junior-level courses in Statistics until 1965, when sophomore courses were offered. The first Statistics Ph.D. was awarded in 1962.
Ken Wolfson (1925-2000) was elected Chair of the Math Department in 1961 for what would be a 14-year term of office. He immediately began a vigorous expansion of Rutgers' graduate math program, and created an Academic Year Institute for the training of High School and College teachers. The department quickly grew to 40 faculty members in 1966. By 1966 there were 70 graduate students. Wolfson also hired a new secretary named Judy Lige in 1961; she was the Math Department's Business Administrator until retiring in 2013.
The department soon had to expand into nearby converted residences. 36 people stayed at 185 College Avenue. A little house at 189 College Ave was used for a few years, then torn down to build the Library School. The Seminar room and 28 people moved next door into a 3-story house at 165 College Avenue; this was was razed in the 1970's when Alexander Library expanded. Seven faculty (including Harry Gonshor and Dick Bumby) were put in a row house at 28-1/2 Morrel St. behind today's Graduate Student Center. Another 28 (mostly graduate students) were housed in the former Christian Science church across the street at 172 College Ave (today's Office of International Programs), and 7 others (including Butler, Kosinski and Zimmerberg) were across the street at 1 Richardson St., now used by the College of Nursing.
The graduate program in mathematics continued to expand and prosper. The average faculty teaching load had been reduced to 6 hours per week. By 1966 there were 106 graduate students, with 18 graduate courses running each semester, taught in Murray Hall as well as the new river dormitories, Frelinghuysen and Hardenberg Halls. Written prelim exams for the Ph.D. were given biannually. In 1968 the Graduate Committee dropped the graduate student course load from 4 to 3 courses per semester (2 if they were TA's).
Rutgers had practically cornered the market on women mathematicians as well. In addition to Katharine Hazard (at Douglass) and Barbara Osofsky, the various math departments had now acquired Helen Nickerson (1960), Jacqueline Lewis (1963, University College), Joanne Elliott (1964), Jane Scanlon (1965), and Patricia Tulley McAuley (1965, Douglass). Thus 7 of the 32 senior faculty (22%) were women. The national average was under 1% women then, and was still only 8% in 1995. (It has since increased to 18% in 2024.) Even in the 1990's, few countries boasted such a high percentage.
Other women mathematicians hired by Rutgers in that era include Tilla Weinstein (1970), Amy Cohen (1972), and Jean Taylor (1973) More information is located at Women in Rutgers Mathematics.
The reason Rutgers was able to grow so dramatically in the 1960s was a large amount of grant money. In 1964, the National Science Foundation announced "A Science Development Program in the Basic Physical Sciences." The purpose was to establish "Centers of Excellence" by using money to transform good institutions into excellent ones. Rutgers' departments of Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry applied for such a grant in the amount of $4,897,000, distributed as $1,005,000 for Math, $2,703,000 for Physics and $1,189,000 for Chemistry. While more than half the Physics and Chemistry proposals were for equipment, all the money in the Math proposal was to go towards salaries. The NSF approved the Math and Physics portions of the request in Fall 1965, but excluded the Chemistry portion. Also in 1964, New Jersey voters approved a bond issue on higher education that provided $19 million to Rutgers for building projects, including a new Kilmer Campus (see below).
With $1 million for faculty appointments in the first three years, it was now possible to pay the healthy salary of $24,000 for senior research faculty. (The salary range had been $7,000-$10,000 in 1961.) Rutgers also started a system of faculty fellowships, amounting to a paid sabbatical every fourth year (this system only lasted until 1971). No wonder Rutgers attracted some of the best research mathematicians in the country during this era!
In 1964 and 1969, the American Council on Education conducted surveys to rate the nation's graduate programs and research faculty. In 1964 Rutgers was not among the 46 schools mentioned. In 1969 Rutgers found itself on the list of 61 schools, but was not yet among the top 25. In 1982 there was a followup survey by the Conference Board of Associated Research Councils; the Math Department at Rutgers was listed as 21st in both Quality of Faculty and Effectiveness of the Graduate Program. We have maintained that rating; a 1995 survey rated us as 19th and 20th in these respective categories.
In July 1963 the U.S. Army declared Camp Kilmer "surplus property," and Rutgers acquired much of the former military base in December 1964, renaming it Kilmer Campus. (This campus was later renamed Livingston Campus.) At first, the University planned this campus to hold three new undergraduate colleges; the first of these three was named Livingston College in Fall 1965. Kilmer Campus was to be an elite undergraduate science campus, and the undergraduate offices of the Mathematics Department (College of Arts and Sciences) were to be located there. But times change. The 1968 student riots on campus, as well as nationwide political unrest, caused Rutgers to reconsider. Livingston College opened on Kilmer Campus in 1969 as a college with an urban focus, and with no mathematics department. Until 1973, no mathematics courses were offered on this campus. The Mathematics Department remained intact on College Avenue in the College of Arts and Science, which was now renamed Rutgers College.
Both the Computer Science Department and the RU Computing Services (RUCS) evolved out of the Math Department in the 1960's. The first "computer" at Rutgers was a wired plugboard accounting machine which could read punched cards, installed in the basement of Ballantine Hall (part of the Zimmerli Museum since 1983) in 1954 by Fred Fender (1908-1976). He used it to teach Numerical Analysis (640:474) to math majors and graduate students. In 1957 the first stored-program computer at Rutgers - an IBM 650 computer - was installed in the basement of Hegeman Hall, a dormitory. Fred Fender operated it and informally called its room the Computation Center; logistically the Center was entirely contained within the Mathematics Department. The Center officially opened in 1958, and the Math Department offered a course in Information Processing that Fall. An IBM 1620 was added to the Center in 1962. To help run the Center, Fender hired Donald King (Rutgers class of 1955) and Thomas Mott. Fender taught "Computer Programming and Numerical Methods" (640:377) in the Mathematics Department in the Spring of 1963.
In Fall 1963, the Center for Information Processing (CIP) formally separated from the Math Department, with Fred Fender as director. (Fender continued to teach Numerical Analysis in the Mathematics Department until 1964.) In addition to providing academic computing services, Information Processing was an academic department offering 6 junior-level courses. Its faculty offices were in the basement of Hegeman Hall, but the computers were moved to Records Hall in 1964 to accomodate the addition of an IBM 7040. In Fall 1964, the College of Engineering required all freshmen to take the course "Basic Computer Programming" (550:101-2), and the Information Processing Department was off and running.
Timed to Rutgers' Bicentennial Year 1966, the University announced the formation of two new units: a Computer Science Department and the Center for Computer and Information Sciences (CCIS). In reality, this was accomplished by breaking up the preexisting Center for Information Processing into two parts.
Fender and Mott were the senior faculty of the Computer Science Department, which now operated out of 203 Records Hall and offered the same 6 junior-level courses as the CIP had. In 1966-67, Fender chaired the Computer Science Department. After Fender had a stroke in 1967, Mott served as the chair of the Computer Science Department until 1969. He remained a faculty member of Computer Science until his death 20 years later.
Tom Mott (1924-1989) directed the CCIS from 1966 until 1969, when he left CCIS to serve as dean of the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies. He successfully merged this with the Communications and Journalism departments in 1983, forming the School of Communication, Information and Library Studies (SCILS).
CCIS moved from Records Hall into the Hill Center in 1972. It was combined with administrative and library computing in 1978 under a Vice President for Computer and Information Sciences. A 1990 reorganization combined CCIS and the other groups into the Rutgers Computing Services (RUCS).
The Computer Science Department had been a part of Livingston College in name ever since 1966. The official opening of the College to students in 1969 became the occasion for transferring the Computer Science Department's offices to the sixth floor of Tillett Hall on Kilmer Campus. Curiously, Computer Science classes were still taught on College Avenue until 1972. In 1969 Tom Mott stepped down, and Saul Amarel was brought in from RCA Labs to be the department chair, a position he held until 1984. The Computer Science Department moved to its current location in the Hill Center in 1972, when the building was ready for occupancy. Fred Fender remained in the Computer Science Department until retiring in 1974. The first Ph.D. in Computer Science was awarded in 1974 to Shlomo Weiss, who remains on the faculty in 1995. [He has since moved to IBM.]
From 1970 until 1973, Livingston College tried a "New Math" experiment, offering a course called "Computer-oriented Calculus & Linear Algebra" (198:105-6) in its Computer Science Department. In Spring 1973 the Mathematics Department offered two recitations of "Intro to Math Analysis" (640:133) in Beck Hall. The Livingston students clearly preferred the more traditional course, and since then the Mathematics Department has offered all Calculus-level courses on Livingston/Kilmer Campus.
A short description of early computer networking at Rutgers is given below.
By 1967, plans had been made to construct a building to house Mathematics, Computer Sciences, the Statistics Center and CCIS, occupying 141,000 square feet of area. It was designed by the same Architects (Warner, Burns, Toan and Lunde) who had already designed Fine Hall (the math building) at Princeton University and the Courant Institute building at New York University. When finally completed in 1971, the building cost $7.7 million, including $3 million from the 1968 NJ Bond Act. The Math Department received a $1 million grant from the NSF in 1968 to pay for furnishing the offices, the library, and the seventh floor lounge. The building was christened the Hill Center for the Mathematical Sciences, honoring the most famous mathematician then associated with Rutgers.
The Rutgers College Mathematics Department moved into the Hill Center on January 1, 1972 along with Computer Science, Statistics and CCIS. At the same time, most faculty in the Douglass and University College departments were given a second office in the Hill Center, but the main offices of those departments stayed put until 1981. In that year, there was a university-wide reorganization into three campuses (New Brunswick, Newark and Camden), each with their own Provost. The separate Math departments in the New Brunswick colleges were combined into one Mathematics Department, which became a part of the new Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS). This was its structure until 2007.
Between the 1972 move to the Hill Center and the creation of FAS in 1981, there was also a super-department, or federation, called the New Brunswick Mathematics Department. Its main function was to coordinate personnel decisions, research grants and the teaching of graduate courses among the three undergraduate departments. Ken Wolfson was the chair of the N.B. Math Department until 1975, and Daniel Gorenstein was the chair of the N.B. Math Department from 1975 until 1981. Both Barbara Osofsky ('78) and Jane Scanlon ('79) served a semester as acting chair.
Daniel Gorenstein (1923-1992) had come to Rutgers in 1969. In addition to being the Chairman of the New Brunswick Math Department (1975-1981), he was the founder and first director of DIMACS (see below) from 1989 until his unexpected death in 1992. His research area was finite groups, and he is generally credited as being the moving force behind the classification of the finite simple groups. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1987.
Here is a brief description of the individual College departments in the 1970's and early 1980's.
Rutgers College: Ken Wolfson remained chair of this department until 1974, and then served one more year as the chair of the N.B. Math super-department. During 1975-85 he was the Dean of the Rutgers Graduate School. In 1985 he returned to teaching in the Mathematics Department, and retired in 1991.
Terry Butler came to Rutgers in 1958, and served as chair of the Rutgers College Math Department during 1974-81. After reorganization in 1981, he was Acting Chair of the FAS Math Department for a year. Then he served as the Associate Dean for the Mathematical Sciences in FAS until 1993.
Douglass College: Tilla Milnor (1934-2002) was hired in 1970 to be the chair of the Douglass Math Department, which had grown to 18 members. She was the chair until 1973, and again from 1978 until the 1981 reorganization. Joe D'Atri (1938-1993) was chair in '73-'74, and Joanne Elliott in 1974-77. Most of the Douglass faculty acquired a second office for research in the Hill Center in 1972, but the undergraduate offices remained in Waller Hall on Douglass until reorganization. Since then, the Mathematics Department has only maintained a satellite presence on Douglass Campus.
University College: Larry Corwin (1943-1992) was hired in 1975 to replace Frank Clark as the chair of the University College Math Department, and remained the chair until reorganization in 1981. Prior to 1981, University College operated on the New Brunswick, Camden and Newark campuses. Some UC faculty members commuted from New Brunswick to the other campuses for classes. Others lived near the Newark and Camden campuses, and were absorbed into those math departments in 1981.
Two members of the UC Math Department played crucial roles in administering this far-flung operation. Jacqueline Lewis (1934-1982), who had been in the UC Math Department since 1963, became Associate Dean of University College in 1974, and the New Brunswick Vice Dean in 1978. Upon "trichotomization" in 1981, when the three parts of University College were divided among the three branch campuses of Rutgers, Lewis became the dean of New Brunswick's University College. The first year (1981-82), she took a leave in order to be acting dean of the Faculty of Professional Studies (most of which is now the School of Business), and Larry Corwin was the acting dean of University College. Jackie Lewis resumed being dean of UC in July 1982 but died in November, and Corwin became acting dean until the next summer. The Lewis Memorial Lectures in Mathematics are given in honor of Jacqueline Lewis each year. A Lewis Chair of Mathematics was also funded by the state Board of Governors and given to Danny Gorenstein, but expired upon his death in 1992.
Livingston College: Although it had no mathematics department, Livingston College established an Academic Foundations Department in 1976. Located in Lucy Stone Hall Wing A, this department offered 6 courses: reading (1), writing (1) and mathematics (4, in algebra and pre-calculus). Upon reorganization, the department was disbanded. Its office space, and 3 of its 6 full-time members, were absorbed into the new FAS Math Department as the nucleus of a new entity: the Basic Skills Program.
Since 1981, the Basic (Mathematical) Skills Program has been the arm of the Math Department responsible for all math courses below the pre-calculus level. It has a staff of several Instructors to teach these courses. Lew Hirsch, who arrived in 1979, has been the Director of the Basic Skills Program since its creation. In 1989, the Basic Skills offices were moved to Wing B of Lucy Stone Hall, and are operated as a satellite of the Math Department. Since 1998, the precalculus courses (math 111-112 and 115) have also been coordinated by the Basic Skills office.
Since the 1981 reorganization, the Mathematics Department has had a strong presence in the Administration. We have already mentioned that Ken Wolfson was the dean of the Graduate School during 1975-85, and that Terry Butler was the Associate Dean for the Mathematical Sciences in FAS until 1993. Robert Wilson was Associate Dean of FAS during 1993-2003, and Michael Beals was the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education in FAS during 1996-2016. Rick Falk was the acting Dean of FAS (and also the Graduate School-New Brunswick) during 2000-01, and again in 2012-2014.
We have already mentioned the role of Jacqueline Lewis and Larry Corwin as deans of University College until 1983. From 1988 to 1994, Amy Cohen was the dean of University College. And two members of the Math Department have also served in the New Brunswick Provost's office: Charlie Sims was the Associate Provost during 1984-1988, and Larry Corwin was Associate Provost during 1988-1990. (The New Brunswick Provost's office ceased to exist in 1996.)
In 1990, the Math Department initiated a program called EXCEL for first-year Calculus students. Based on a program at Berkeley, this 5-credit program involved group problem-solving during 3 weekly workshop periods, with a Teaching Assistant and a trained undergraduate Peer Mentor to provide guidance. It required more active engagement by the students and the instructor, and more expository writing, than the usual Calculus sequence of the 1980's. EXCEL was such a marked success that its method was adopted in 1994 in teaching the junior-level math major courses 311 (Advanced Calculus) and 351 (Modern Algebra), launched with a seed grant from the Vice President for Undergraduate Education. For these math major courses, one extra 80-minute workshop was added to the two weekly lectures.
Sadly, the EXCEL program was terminated in 2003. The 5-credit course load interfered too much with other course commitments of the students, and was expensive to staff.
Starting in Fall 1995, the first-year Calculus sequence 151-152 was also reformed, with the traditional recitation replaced by an 80-minute workshop run by TA's and Peer Mentors, emphasizing extensive small-group work and exposition of workshop solutions. Graphing calculators were also introduced at this time. In Fall 1996, a 5-credit model was introduced: the two weekly lectures are supplemented by a 55-minute "Practicum" run by the TA, and a 55-minute workshop run by the Lecturer with the help of a Peer Mentor (now called a Lerning Assistant). This model is also being used in the Calculus Sequence 135-136/138.
The third semester of Calculus was also revamped in Fall 1996. In addition to workshops, this course features assignments to be done using the Computer Algebra system Maple.
Starting in Spring 2001, the first-year Calculus sequence 135-136 has been enhanced by the addition of WebWorks, a web-based family of weekly problem sets for students to receive feedback on routine drill problems. This project was funded by a University-wide grant from the Mellon Foundation, designed to promote web usage in courses. The WebWorks program itself was a modification of a web-based program created by the University of Rochester for its Calculus instruction.
During 1999-2003, the department was awarded a $1.3 million VIGRE grant by the National Science Foundation, to enhance Vertical InteGration (of Mathematics) Research and Education for U.S. citizens. As part of that grant, we added 10 new graduate students and 5 new post-doctoral "VIGRE fellows."
In Fall 1995, the National Research Council released a 4-year study of U.S. Doctoral programs, the first such study since 1982. Among all U.S. mathematics departments, Rutgers is ranked 19th in scholarly quality and 20th in the effectiveness of teaching Ph.D. candidates. (This is 8th place among state universitites.) These are minor improvements from 1982, when Rutgers was 21st under both criteria.
The size of the FAS mathematics faculty peaked in January 1991 with 87 faculty members. This number excludes Instructors and people working primarily in other departments. In an effort to save on long-term costs in an economic recession, New Jersey offered a generous Early Retirement Benfits package to all State employees. Seven members of the Mathematics Department chose to retire with this package: Barlaz, Bredon, Elliott, Leader, Muckenhaupt, Scanlon, and Wolfson. Barlaz stayed on voluntarily as the department's undergraduate vice-chair for one year. In addition, Zimmerberg (1921-2019) reached mandatory retirement (age 70). Then the Math Department was rocked by a wave of tragic deaths: Harry Gonshor (May '91), Larry Corwin (March '92), Danny Gorenstein (August '92), Josh Barlaz (November '92) and Joe D'Atri (April '93). By January 1995 the math faculty had dropped to 74 members. This was an overall loss of 15% in four years: 10 senior faculty and three postdoctoral teaching lines.
Are these sharp reductions in the tenured Mathematics Department (and the University) permanent? Will they be replaced by non-tenured teachers? Are these changes really trends, or just part of natural economic cycles? Only the future can be sure.
This reorganization did not significantly affect the operation of he Mathemaics Department, or its Graduate program.
In the years since 2007, the Math Department has been a part of SAS, much has happened. I shall leave it to future historians to decide which events are most important, contenting myself with a somewhat sketchy presentation of recent history.
RUTCOR spun off in 1982 as a joint program between Mathematics, Computer Science, Engineering and the School of Business. Peter Hammer was the RUTCOR director until his death in 2006; he was succeeded by Endre Boros. Today it has over 30 faculty members, many with joint appointments in the Math Department.
During 1983-84 an interdisciplinary committee, headed by the Math
Department's Joe Rosenstein, developed plans for a University-wide
Center for Mathematics, Science and Computer Education (CMSCE) to
improve teaching at the grade school level in New Jersey. The Center
began operation in 1984 with support from the NJ Department of Higher
Education. Gerald Goldin arrived in 1984, and was the director
of this Center until 1998, being succeeded by Yakov Epstein (1998-2014);
David Shernoff has been the director of CMSCE since then.
Based in the SERC building on Busch
Campus, the Center sponsors over 30 programs each year, each aimed at
improving the teaching of math and science in New Jersey from
Kindergarten through High School (K-12). In 1993 the CMSCE received a
5-year $10 million dollar NSF grant to standardize the teaching of
mathematics and science in New Jersey. More than half of all the
school districts in the state have participated in these programs, and
several districts such as New Brunswick have multiple ongoing programs
with the CMSCE.
CAIP was originally established in 1985, as a joint venture between Rutgers, industry and the newly created New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology (NJCST) with the name Center for Advanced Information Processing. By the late 1990s, NJCST had refocussed on technology incubation, and the CAIP mission changed to focus on collaborative computing. In 1999, the Center was renamed the Center for Computer Aids for Industrial Productivity (still CAIP). At first, CAIP was located in the Hill Center, and later in the SERC building. Since 1992, its offices have been on the top floor of the CoRE building on Busch Campus.
In 1992, the third floor of the Hill Center became attached to a new building: the Computing, Research and Education (CoRE) building. This building cost $22 million, and was funded primarily by the NJCST. Additional funding came from Rutgers' Fund for Distinction. Short-term visiting mathematicians are often given offices in the CoRE building. In addition, it houses CAIP and DIMACS (see below), as well as the Laboratory for Computing Science Research (LCSR) and parts of several departments: Computer Science (CS), Electrical Engineering (EE) and Industrial Engineering (IE). Clearly you have to know your mnemonics to work in the CoRE.
DIMACS (Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science) is one of the nation's 11 Science and Technology Centers created in 1989 with a $10 million 5-year award from the National Science Foundation. It is a joint project between Rutgers, Princeton, AT&T Bell Labs and Bellcore [now Telcordia] and was renewed in 1994 for a second 5-year period. Operating expenses are covered by the four institutions, NSF funds, and the NJCST. Daniel Gorenstein was the director of DIMACS until his death in 1992. Following a two-year interregnum, Andras Hajnal was the director of DIMACS from mid-1994 to mid-1996, when Fred Roberts became the director. In addition to its research component, DIMACS cosponsors several programs with the CMSCE to promote the teaching of discrete math in New Jersey's high schools, coordinated by Joe Rosenstein. Since 1991, the principal offices of DIMACS have been located in the CoRE building adjoining the Hill Center.
Until 1984, all math documents (research papers and exams) were typed on typewriters, or on the department's AB Dick Word Processors. The department had several technical typists employed for this purpose. In 1984, the department acquired several Personal Computers for the staff, and documents began to be typed in a word processing system called "T3." This system has been phased out since 1992-93 in favor of "TeX." The pool of technical typists has shrunk dramatically too, with most of the faculty doing their own technical typing.
Computer networking evolved gradually at Rutgers. The first time-sharing computer at Rutgers was on an IBM 360 purchased in 1969, in collaboration with Princeton and 23 state colleges, and was for academic computing only. When the computers were moved from Records Hall into the Hill Center in 1972, New Jersey's second network was formed: the Educational Information Services Corp. (EIS). It was renamed the NJECN in 1975, for political reasons, and Rutgers belonged to this network until 1981. Meanwhile, Rutgers received permission to join the ARPA network in 1973 - but users had to have security clearance to use the network. All of these early networks were primarily for academic computing, involving a restricted group of institutions. For this reason, there was not very much demand for electronic mail until the rise of BITNET in the mid-1980's.
For academic computing in the early 1980's, there was a DEC-20 called "blue" available for general University-wide usage, linked to the ARPANET, and used by some members of the Math Department. (Other DEC-20's, called "red" and "green," were reserved for the Computer Science Department.) Starting in 1984, it became possible to use e-mail widely, accessing the new BITNET network through the ARPANET gateway.
In 1985-86 three changes occurred. First, the NJ Department of Higher Education provided funds for "Computers and Curricula," through which the Math Department acquired two undergraduate machines: "euler" for Differential Equations (now defunct) and "gauss" for Linear Algebra. A successor of this machine is the all-purpose undergraduate Math machine "gauss" used today. Second, several members of the department received an NSF grant (SCREMS) with funds for workstations and two new central computers: "fermat" and "newton" (both are now defunct). Successors of these machines are now the all-purpose computational machine used by graduate students and faculty. Third, a coaxial network called "Buschnet" was built on Busch Campus to provide a link to the Von Neumann Center on Princeton's Forrestal Campus (one of 5 national computing centers established by the NSF).
By 1987 the departments's accounts had migrated from the "blue" machine, either to a UNIX computer called "elbereth" (which has been succeeded by "gandalf"), or to a pair of VAX machines called the ZODIAC cluster. (ZODIAC was phased out in 1996.) In early 1988 the department began using a new UNIX machine called "math." All faculty, staff and graduate students in mathematics were freely given computer access to this machine. Today the "math" machine provides access to the internet, and is the main gateway for electronic mail into the Math Department.
Starting in 1992, all math majors have had free accounts on the "gauss" machine. Prior to that, only a few undergraduates had computer accounts. (By taking the right courses, one could get an account of "gauss" or other machines.) In 1993, the University gave every undergraduate a computer account on a new "eden" machine. From its beginning, "eden" has been used to supplement "gauss" in undergraduate math classes. Many faculty also use it to communicate with their classes, and every year brings new ways of blending in computers with the classroom.
The Delaware and Raritan Canal is a state park, beginning near Rutgers' College Avenue Campus at Landing Lane Bridge, passing along the south shore of Lake Carnegie half a mile from Princeton's Fine Hall, and continuing to the Delaware River just north of Trenton. Each year, on the first Sunday of May, the Rutgers and Princeton Math Departments compete in a relay race along the canal's towpath. The race alternates directions, between Rutgers and Princeton, and is approximately 25 miles long. This distance is broken down into 7 or 8 legs, each runner typically covering between 2 and 4 miles. More information is available at the race web site
In 1976 Rutgers' Math Department challenged Princeton's Math Department to a 26-mile relay race between the two Universities, starting at Fine Hall and ending at Landing Lane (followed by a picnic). There were 5 teams: Rutgers fielded two faculty teams and a graduate student team, while Princeton fielded a faculty and a grad. team. The RU grad students won. The following year Princeton challenged Rutgers back, from Landing Lane to Washington Road in Princeton. (The final half a mile was omitted for safety; these have been the ending points ever since.) This time there were seven teams, four from Rutgers and three from Princeton; one of the Princeton faculty teams won.
Thus began a tradition which has continued for many decades. The race alternates directions, always includes a graduate student team, and always ends in a picnic. The spirit of the race has always been inclusive, and there have been as many as 9 teams per year. In 1977 the Douglass students had a team, in 1978 there was a RU Topologist's team, and an RU women's Math faculty in 1988. Columbia University entered the race in 1979 and 2003. IDA and two marathon runners entered in 1981, the Institute for Advanced Study entered teams in 1982, 1989 and 1992 (when they won), and Rutgers' Computer Science Department ran in 1985. The Princeton Population Biologists fielded teams during 1978-84 and won in '80, '81 and '82. Other departments at Princeton have fielded teams, such as Psychology (1984-87), "Comparative Math Economists" (meaning Comparative Literature+Economics) ('86-7), Geology grads ('88) and Physics (who won in 2001-2002).
Fred Almgren of Princeton University, husband of Rutgers Professor Jean Taylor, was an active participant in the May Day race for twenty years. In odd numbered years, the race always ended with a picnic at their house in Princeton. When Fred died on Feb. 5, 1997 the name of the race was changed from the "Mathematicians May Day Relay" to the "Fred Almgren Memorial Relay Race."
Every year, something unexpected happens during the race. Here are some illustrative anecdotes. In 1978 the weather was unusually hot; several runners suffered heat stroke, and were taken to the hospital. In 1982 one runner ran a leg with a torn ligament, suffered in a collision at the start of the leg. In 1983 one runner got lost; other years runners have paused to greet friends on the towpath. In 1985 the D&R was under construction and the race ended in Kingston. (The D&R Canal only became a State Park in 1986.) One year, a Princeton faculty member's wife ran the last two legs (7.5 miles) and made up a 1-mile deficit to win. In 1993 there was no Princeton team; Rutgers' team ran uncontested and finished with the traditional picnic near Nassau Hall in Princeton. In 2002, the Rutgers Undergraduate team ran the third leg in the wrong direction, and their team time had to be computed virtually. In 2010, the race started without the Rutgers Math team, who still beat the Princeton Math team.
During the 1990's the State Park was upgraded, creating changes in the race. Most portions of the path were covered in sand, eliminating the excitement of avoiding tree roots and wide muddy stretches. Many new access points were added, allowing more runners to split up legs. The exchange at 10 mile lock was moved in 2000 from the footbridge to a new access with better parking. Beginning in 1999, the race has been extended to 25.7 miles during odd years, ending at Alexander Road in Princeton near a newly created picnic area.
The Mayday race was not held during the Covid pandemic of 2020-2021.
Here is a table of the winning teams and their times since 1976.
More information about the Mayday race can be found here, including complete race results for several recent years, and a leg-by-leg breakdown of the course.
1771 Frelinghuysen classes at the "Sign of the Red Lion" 1773 Taylor 1791 several transient tutors classes at George and Liberty Streets 1795 ----------- 1807 Condict 1809 Adrain classes in "Old Queen's" building after 1811 1813 Vethake 1817 ----------- 1825 Adrain name changed to "Rutgers College" 1827 Strong 1859 Henshaw 1863 Murray Rutgers becomes a Land Grant College 1864 1868 Bowser Murray Hasbrouk Scientific School created, more than one mathematician on faculty 1873 Bowser Rockwood Hasbrouk 1877 Bowser Merriman Hasbrouk 1886 Bowser Merriman Titsworth 1892 Bowser Prentiss Titsworth (two Instructors) 1906 -----Math Dept. formed------ Titsworth goes to Engineering dept. 1903-21 1906 Morris Prentiss Breazeale Dept. moves to Engineering building 1909 1914 Morris (chair) Brasefield Breazeale 1920 Morris (chair) Brasefield Breazeale Titsworth Starke (5 members) ---NJC/Douglass and University College Math Depts. formed gradually--- 1945 Starke (chair) Robertson 14 members * Dept. moves to 50 College Ave. 1959 Starke (chair) Robertson 21 members * Dept. moves to 185 College Ave. 1966 Wolfson (chair) 55 members * Dept. moves to Hill Center in 1972 1981 Gorenstein (N.B. chair) 60 members after FAS reorganization 1991 Wilson (FAS chair) 87 members * 1995 Kosinski (FAS chair) 74 members * (stable for 10 years) 2007 Lyons (SAS chair) 75 members after SAS reorganization
* 1946 count includes 9 Rutgers and 5 NJC faculty;
1956 count includes 15 Rutgers, 4 Douglass and 2 University College faculty;
1966 count includes 43 Rutgers, 6 Douglass and 6 University College faculty.
1981ff counts exclude less than half-time appointments in mathematics.
2002 count includes 9 Hill Assistant Professors and other "post-doc"
Assistant Professors.
2007 count includes 8 Hills and "post-doc" Assistant Professors.
Rutgers College | NJC/Douglass | University College | N.B. Math Department | |
1914-44 Morris | 1919-44 Morris | |||
1944-61 Starke | 1944-59 Nelson | 1947-59 Ott | ||
1961-74 Wolfson | 1959-1970 several | 1959-75 Clark | 1972-75 Wolfson | |
1974-81 Butler | 1970-73 T. Milnor; 1973-77 D'Atri, Elliott; 1977-81 T. Milnor |
1975-81 Corwin | 1975-81 Gorenstein 1978* Osofsky; 1979* Scanlon | |
FAS Math Department (SAS Department after 2007) | ||||
1981-82* Butler | 1982-84 Sims | 1984-90 D'Atri | ||
1990-93 Wilson | 1993-96,97-99 Kosinski | 1996-7*,1999-00,01-05 Falk | 00-01*&F03* Goodman | |
2005-06* Wilson | 2006-09 Lyons | 2009-13 Vogelius | 2013-16 Thomas | 2016-17* Woodward |
2017-20 Saks | ||||
Joseph Bradley, Biography of T. Strong, biographical memoirs of National Academy of Sciences, 1886.
F. Cajori, Teaching and history of mathematics in the United States, Government Printing Office, 1890
A Century of Mathematics in America, ed. by P. Duren, AMS, Providence, 1988.
K. Ciociola, The Past Three Decades, in Academic Computing at Rutgers University, Human Resources Research Organization, 1978.
W. Demarest, History of Rutgers College 1766-1924, Princeton Univ. Press, 1924.
G. W. Hill, The Collected Mathematical Works of George William Hill, Carnegie Institute, 1905.
R. P. McCormick, Rutgers: a Bicentennial History, Rutgers U. Press, 1966.
R. P. McCormick, Academic Reorganization in New Brunswick, 1962-1978: the Federated College Plan, 1978
Rev. J. Raven, Catalogue of the Officers and Alumni of Rutgers College 1766-1916, Trenton, 1916.
W. Riemann, A History of the Rutgers School of Chemistry, 130 p. pamphlet, School of Chemistry, 1972.
Rutgers Catalogues 1860-, Faculty Biographical Files and other archives. University Archives and Special Collections, Alexander Library, Rutgers University.
J.W. Sidar, George Hammell Cook, Rutgers U. Press, 1976.