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History of Mathematics at Mount Union

Mathematics has long been, and continues to be, an integral aspect of education at the University of Mount Union. Learn more about mathematics at Mount Union below. Learn more about the history of Mount Union.

Notable Figures

  1. Ira O. Chapman

    Ira O. ChapmanMount Union's founder, Principal Hartshorn, taught all the important classes in the early years. But enrollment grew quickly: 62 in the fall of 1849, and 211 by the spring of 1851.

    Thus Hartshorn, a graduate of Allegheny College, in the fall of 1851 added to the Mount Union faculty two of his Allegheny classmates: Ira Oscar Chapman (the first Mount Union Professor of Mathematics), and George Washington Clark (Professor of the Classics). These three devout and ardent Methodists became the nucleus from which Mount Union evolved.

    Ira O. Chapman had deep and sincere religious convictions, owing to impaired health during his student days. So when he accepted the position of Professor of Mathematics at Mount Union, he entered on what he believed to be his life work as a Christian educator.

    A professor who understood the limits of the average student's ability, Chapman was regarded as the most capable teacher at Mount Union. A tall, spare man, with snow-white hair, gentle in voice and manner, he was held in high esteem by the student body.

    For nearly three decades, Chapman taught mathematics, along with other necessary courses. Chapman wrote his brother that he taught each day the following classes: "Latin Grammar, Advanced Algebra, Geometry, Surveying, Natural Philosophy, Higher Arithmetic, English Grammar, Physiology, Latin Reader," and he took his turn with Hartshorn to lecture before the normal (education) class. He wrote at another time that he had to talk almost incessantly from 8:00 in the morning until 4:00 in the evening.

    A student recalled how Hartshorn and Chapman had during a class contested with each other in the double rule of ratio, or what later became known as compound proportion. Here is a sample problem: "If 8 men consume 24 bushels of wheat in 5 months, how many bushels will 4 men consume in 15 months?" The student wrote that:

    "The old rule which Professor Chapman was inclined to hold onto was long and difficult to work by and difficult for young minds to master. It seemed that Professor Hartshorn had lately discovered or learned the rule now in use in stating compound proportion questions. I remember that after each Professor had his display on the blackboard that Professor Chapman said to Professor Hartshorn, 'I'll smash your rule.'"

    This same student went on to write that after his first meeting with Hartshorn and Chapman a feeling of respect and admiration had sprung up in his mind and heart for their unselfish labor in the cause of education which passing years had ever enlarged.

    Chapman's private life was deeply religious, and the students referred to him as "pious Chapman." His son was later to write that as a boy he sometimes grew jealous of the great number of students who came to his father for counsel and advice. President Hartshorn relied greatly upon the wisdom and moral support of his colleague and friend, and there were many who felt that the success of the university was due in large measure to pious Professor Chapman.

    Professor Chapman died on January 24, 1880. A former student recalled that Chapman's last words were these: "There is only one mathematical problem I have not been able to solve: 'What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?'"

    So highly regarded was Professor Chapman that Chapman Hall was named in his honor, the image of which has become the icon of the University.

  2. Matilda Hindman

    Matilda HindmanMatilda Hindman taught mathematics at Mount Union, and went on to become a prominent advocate of woman's suffrage in the United States.

    She was the second woman to graduate from the University, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1860. It was written of her:

    The fact that Miss Hindman had won the degree was commented upon by all the large papers of this country and Europe. At the commencement exercises at Mt. Union college she delivered her oration from the platform upon which seven men graduates sat, and her address was so far above the average commencement oration that a brilliant future was predicted for her as a speaker.

    This prediction was made good by her in later life, as she for about 25 years lectured in almost every state in the country in the interest of various reforms and had a personal acquaintance with almost every woman of prominence in the United States.

  3. James A. Brush

    James A. BrushJames A. Brush had been assisting Chapman since 1865, and after Chapman's death Brush succeeded him as Head of Mathematics at Mount Union.

    Brush was revered for his teaching excellence and his support of the University during the dark days of the 1880's. Neat and trim in attire, very serious in manner, he commanded the respect of the students by the thoroughness of his teaching.

    Brush earned a B.S. degree from Mount Union in 1860, and enlisted in the Union army for the Civil War. Upon his return, Brush was hired to teach President Hartshorn's classes, so that Hartshorn could devote full time to scholarship and endowment campaigns. Brush was also one of the first librarians of the university. Brush, ordained as a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1873, possessed deep religious convictions.

    Brush was an active temperance worker. A year or so after the close of the Civil War the members of the temperance movement at the university were confronted with the threat of the establishment of a saloon within a stone's throw of the campus. A small building which had been erected on West State Street, purportedly for the grocery trade, turned out to be a saloon. Its proprietor stubbornly resisted every remonstrance that he "move on to greener pastures". One night Professor Brush and a few other faculty members, accompanied by some of the student leaders, tore down the building from roof to foundation. The next morning the owner after surveying the wreckage, concluded that public sentiment in Mount Union was unfavorable to liquor selling.

    Substantial debt was threatening the very existence of the university in 1882, and a campaign was begun to raise money to retire the debt and save Mount Union. Professor Brush was the leading figure in this campaign, directing a thorough canvas of Mount Union, Alliance, and vicinity. A grand celebration was held on November 1, 1882, at the conclusion of the successful campaign.

    A notable quote from Professor Brush: "The student should study each day just as much as he is able and reinvigorate himself in some way each day, and the balance should be kept daily!"

  4. Benjamin Franklin Yanney

    Benjamin Franklin YanneyBenjamin Franklin Yanney began teaching mathematics at Mount Union in 1886, and served as head of the mathematics department from 1894 to 1911.

    As a result of a memorial gift by Mrs. Richard Brown in memory of her husband, the chair of mathematics was endowed. In the fall of 1906, Professor Yanney became the first Richard Brown Professor of Mathematics.

    Yanney served as Bursar from 1889-1992, and again from 1900-1908. In 1904 Professor Yanney was appointed by President Riker as Dean of the University, the first Dean in the history of Mount Union.

    In 1911, Yanney left Mount Union to chair the mathematics department at the College of Wooster for the next 25 years. On April 21-22, 1916, Yanney attended and delivered a paper at the first annual meeting of the Ohio Section of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), held in Columbus, Ohio. His paper was entitled "The bearing of recent legislation on the teaching of mathematics".

  5. Thomas Elder Trott

    Thomas TrottThomas Elmer Trott came from Scio College at the time of its merger with Mount Union in 1911, and served as the chairman of the mathematics department for the next quarter century. The name T. Elmer Trott was long synonymous with mathematics at Mount Union. Professor Trott held the Richard Brown Chair of Mathematics.

    Professor Trott was the most civic minded faculty member during those years, for he served as councilman for eight years and as president of the city council for six years.

    In addition, Trott was chairman of the athletic board of control at the university for many years. At the time of his death, he was an assistant astronomer for the United States Naval Observatory, where he helped prepare publications on the timing of eclipses and other astronomical events.

    On April 21-22, 1916, Professor Trott attended the first annual meeting of the Ohio Section of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), held in Columbus, Ohio. Also in attendance at that first meeting was Professor Yanney, who by then had left Mount Union for the College of Wooster.

    Trott had graduated from Muskingum College in 1902. He died in 1936, at the age of 63.

  6. Richard Charles Hildner

    Richard HildnerRichard Hildner was a graduate of the College of Wooster in 1928, and earned his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in 1933.

    Hildner was a member of the mathematics department at Mount Union from 1934 to 1943.

    He held the Richard Brown Chair of Mathematics at Mount Union.

  7. W. Glenn Clark

    W. Glenn ClarkDr. Glenn Clark's tenure at the Mount Union mathematics department stretched from 1947 to 1977.

    Before coming to Mount Union and serving as long-time chair of the mathematics department there, he served in the US Army as a cryptologist.

    At Mount Union, Clark held the Richard Brown Chair of Mathematics.

    Clark was a dedicated teacher and an active leader in the life of the Union Avenue Methodist Church. For decades, he was a central figure in the life of the institution and always brought acumen and good sense to committee and faculty meetings.

    Clark chaired the committee that created the Faculty Constitution in the early 1960's. Among the many changes required by the new constitution was that the faculty would elect the membership of two key committees: Academic Policies and Faculty Personnel. Earlier, the President had made these appointments.

    Clark delivered the faculty lecture in 1960: "A Layman's Guide to Modern Science". He won the Great Teacher Award in 1966.

    Clark retired in 1977, and died in 1993.

  8. Dr. William Markley

    William MarkleyDr. William Markley joined the faculty of the Department of Mathematics in 1956 and spent the better part of five decades educating the students of Mount Union. He retired in 1995 after one of the longest teaching careers in the history of the University. A devout Methodist, he earned the Great Teacher Award in 1981.

    One of Markley's students, David Hudson, writes:

    "Dr. Bill Markley is a major factor of why I am teaching today. I wasn't sure in what I wanted to major or what career path I wanted to pursue, and I wasn't sure my math abilities were strong enough to teach high school math. He took time out of his busy schedule during one winter break to speak with me and my parents to assure me that I did have what it takes to teach high school math. I'll never forget his response when my mom asked him if he thought I could handle that field. Dr. Markley's response was, "I'd trust him as my grandchildren's teacher." Ever since that day, I have never looked back."

    In World War II, Markley flew on 23 bombing missions over Germany as a radio operator and waist gunner in the B-26 bomber.

    An avid athlete in softball, soccer, and ping-pong, Markley started the soccer program at Mount Union, and coached the soccer team for two seasons.

    What is the best advice Markley says he ever received? "Study and obey the Holy Bible".

  9. Dr. John Kirchmeyer

    John KirchmeyerDr. John Kirchmeyer earned his Ph. D. in mathematics from Northwestern University in 1978, when he joined the mathematics faculty of Mount Union.

    After three years in the mathematics department, Kirchmeyer moved to computer science where he developed and implemented the LATTICE Project (Learning and Teaching Through an Integrated Campus Environment), laying the foundation for personal computer and internet use on campus.

    Kirchmeyer mostly taught computer science courses, but would occasionally teach mathematics courses such as Abstract Algebra.

    Kirchmeyer served as University Marshal for ten years. He retired in 2013, after 35 years of service to a grateful University.

  10. Dr. Jim Dillion

    Jim DillonDr. Jim Dillon earned his Bachelor's degree from Idaho State University, his Master's from the University of Nebraska, and his Ph. D. in mathematics from St. Louis University. He came to Ohio and taught at Walsh, before joining the faculty of Mount Union in 1981.

    Dillon was active in his profession, having served in several leadership positions with the Ohio Section of the Mathematical Association of America. At Mount Union, he served as a leader and a mentor to faculty in his positions as convener of the New Faculty Symposium for nine years, a member of the Faculty Personnel Committee for ten years, and as chairman of the Mathematics Department for seven years, among many other contributions to the University.

    Dillon was widely recognized as an outstanding teacher. He was been honored several times for his teaching, including the University's Great Teacher Award in 1987. He treated all students with the greatest respect and dignity, and they responded with evaluations and testimonials such as: "I was not planning on taking Calculus II, but because Dr. Dillon is teaching it, I couldn't pass it up;" and "This has been the best taught class that I've had here at Mount Union;" and "Dr. Dillon did an outstanding job of teaching ... two thumbs up to Dillon!!"

    Jim Dillon was a faculty member of the utmost integrity, a master teacher, and a mentor and leader. He retired in 2004.