History of the Department of Mathematics at California State University, Fullerton
In the Beginning
While the official founding date of California State University, Fullerton - initially called Orange County State College - was 1957, the early years were planning years with no students until 1959/60. The founding President, William B. Langsdorf, was hired in1959. Dr. Dennis B. Ames was hired in 1960 to be the first Department Chair and Dr. Clark Lay was hired also in 1960 to be in charge of Mathematics Education. Dennis was a pure mathematician whose main goal was to establish a strong liberal arts program in mathematics with an emphasis in pure mathematics. He was not interested in the applications of mathematics nor in having service courses in the department. Clark Lay brought a strong mathematical background to the mathematics education program, a somewhat unique tradition that continues today and would later yield much benefit to the department.
In these early years the course offerings were upper division only, but by 1962 it was a full four-year program. The 1963-64 Catalog refers to a Division of Science, Mathematics and Engineering. Joining Ames and Lay in the Department were Edsel Stiel in 1962, Dick Gilbert in 1963 and Rollin Sandberg in 1964. The degree was very much a Liberal Arts oriented Pure Mathematics Degree, appropriate for that time. Vuryl Klassen, Vyron Klassen and Russ Benson joined the faculty in 1965.
Drs. Ames and Lay had quite different views about what a mathematics department ought to be and what direction the department should take. President Shields once remarked, somewhat in jest, that Dennis felt that the department should offer no courses beneath Honors Calculus. Because of their differences, Clark split off into the Department of Science and Mathematics Education. By 1965 Mathematics Education was established as a separate program and began hiring some of its own faculty. During this time frame, Clark initiated a Precalculus for Engineering students in the newly formed School of Engineering at the request of their Dean. The Mathematics Department soon realized that unless Mathematics began teaching this course, the Engineering departments would soon start their own Mathematics Program. Thus, there was a movement within the Department to teach Precalculus. A minor in mathematics was established in1965. Both Mathematics and Mathematics Education continued to grow.
New Programs Begin
In 1966, a Master’s Degree Program was implemented that intended to serve both teachers and those interested in Pure Mathematics. In 1967, a pure Master’s Degree was established, and in 1968, a Master’s Degree for Teachers was established with a National Science Foundation grant written by Dr. Russ Benson. For internal reasons within the University, this was considered an Option within the Master’s Degree in Mathematics. Dr. Ron Miller initiated the Applied Concentration at the undergraduate level and taught most of these courses for their initial offerings.
A Computer Science Program began with Ron as the director. This program was administered by a joint council chosen from the Departments of Mathematics, Management Science, and Engineering. By 1975, the program had grown large enough to become a department within the School of Mathematics, Science and Engineering. Several years later, Engineering and Computer Science formed a school of their own and the remaining departments formed the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, now called the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
After eleven years as chair, Dr. Ames was succeeded by Dr. Edsel Stiel in 1971. During Edsel’s term in office, the Mathematics Education group rejoined the Mathematics Department. This move was made in part because of dropping enrollments in Mathematics Education as well as the feeling by many on both sides that this group should be in the Mathematics Department. At the time this was a very controversial issue, but the intervening years show that it has worked well to have the two groups together. Interactions between the two groups led to many joint papers, and faculty from both groups contributed to teaching in the master’s program for teachers. The master's program was led by Dr. Jerry Gannon along with Dr. Bill Leonard and Dr. Gloria Castellanos.
An unanticipated benefit came as the need for more teachers of math and science arose throughout the state, bringing a concomitant rise for funding for teacher enhancement programs. This also led to more students for the master's program for teachers as well as summer programs for current teachers to attend. Dr. David Pagni had several multimillion dollar grants funded and the cooperation between David and Harris Shultz was exceptionally productive. With five faculty in the department interested in Mathematics Education, we were almost always in a position to respond to requests for proposals involving teachers of mathematics.
In 1973, Dr. Dick Gilbert was honored as the Outstanding Professor for the Fullerton campus. This award is the most prestigious award for a faculty member and is based on excellence in teaching and research. This tradition would continue with five more math faculty receiving this award: Drs. Harris Shultz, David Pagni, Mario Martelli, Marty Bonsangue, and Scott Annin. In 1974, Dr. Michael Clapp became department chair. Michael saw the need for a broader view of the service role of the department, and in particular, for general education mathematics. He had put into the curriculum a Precalculus course, and his interest in the Liberal Arts Mathematics course continued throughout his career.
The department began to shift its emphasis from almost exclusively pure mathematics into areas of applied mathematics, mirroring changes in the greater mathematics community. In 1976, a concentration in Probability and Statistics was added to the three existing concentrations of Pure Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, and Teaching. In 1976, Dr. Clapp took the position of Associate Dean and Vice Chair Harris Shultz became acting Chair. During this time, the department acquired some space on the first floor, which was used as a place to start a tutoring center.
Expanding Undergraduate Programs
The department also underwent a major restructuring of the undergraduate program. While in the past, math majors were required to take a year of Physics, a cognate program was introduced where students could take a year of Physics, or three courses in Philosophy (which included a year of Symbolic Logic), or three courses in Management Science depending on their interests and/or the concentration they selected.
In 1980, Dr. Jim Friel became Chair of the Department. The Applied Master’s Program was initiated by Dr. Greg Pierce. The original M.A. in pure mathematics was on the verge of being phased out due to low enrollments. The applied program was a way to save our Master’s degree since more of our students were interested in applied mathematics, plus there were local firms employing math majors, some of whom might wish to continue their studies in applied mathematics. This also was part of a new wave in the broader mathematical community and fit in nicely with the local community with many firms employing mathematicians. The keystone of the new program was and continues to be a project at the end of the coursework that is obtained from local government or industry.
Also at this time, space was obtained by the department to establish a mathematics tutoring center. Dr. Edsel Stiel was the founding director of the tutors and the tutoring center with Dr. Harriet Edwards taking over when Edsel retired. Dr. Edwards also developed a Workshop program for the three courses in our Calculus sequence based on the Treisman model at Berkeley.
The department continued to grow with most of the hiring from 1980 to 1990 being in Applied Mathematics and Probability and Statistics. In the mid 1980s, an enrollment surge took place due to a peak of interest in Computer Science whose curriculum at the time contained substantial coursework in mathematics. One semester the department needed to staff seven sections of Math 335, Introduction to Probability Theory! The department investigated the so-called “Reform Calculus” which was meant to increase the number of ways for students to look at some of the basic ideas of Calculus and in particular to become aware of the power of the new handheld calculators (led during the first year by Drs. Paul DeLand and Ernie Solheid and during the second year by Drs. Mario Martelli and Stephen Goode). The level of grant writing also increased in the department as many of the faculty became involved in obtaining funds to help improve mathematics education at all levels.
Increased Emphasis on Mathematics Education
In 1984, the department initiated a program of hiring, for a one-year term, a Visiting High School Lecturer. The intent was to improve the transition for our students from high school to college, to make sure that high school teachers were aware of the entry requirements to our system and our university and to the expectations of our faculty for the mathematical preparation of incoming students. Marty Bonsangue was our first Visiting Lecturer in 1984-85, followed by Joy Appleby in 1985-86, Janice Schwartzman (Shultz) in 86-87, Julie Spykerman in 1987-88, and Harry Pappas in 1988-89. All of these individuals had Master’s Degree in Mathematics and were senior members on staff at their home high school. The program was discontinued in the 1989-90 academic year by the administration for budgetary reasons.
Drs. David Pagni and Harris Shultz received a $2 million award for their Teacher Training program SCAMHI. Also, the department held its 7th Annual Alumni Panel. This was a program where we asked alumni to present a panel discussion about their careers in Mathematics. Most of these early panels consisted almost entirely of non-teaching alums, since everyone thinks they know what teachers do. The department also assumed responsibility to be a distribution center for the Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project (MDTP). This project developed and then distributed diagnostic test for high school teachers to use to see if their students had learned the material of each of the basic mathematics subjects taught at that level. Dr. David Pagni assumed the responsibility for this major project. Usage of this center grew with time and is still a major role the department plays in helping and interacting with area high schools. Each year David holds a one-day seminar introducing the materials available to new users, and holding a discussion of major topics of the day of interest to high school teachers. Also, our student Putnam Team for this year received a Meritorious Performance Award.
In 1988 Dr. Harris Shultz was honored as CSUF’s Outstanding Professor. This was followed in 1989 by Harris being named a Systemwide Outstanding Professor (one of two) in the then 19 campus CSU system. This statewide competition was later phased out, mainly for political reasons.
The National Recession
In 1990, the national recession hit California and brought major changes to the California State University System in terms of faculty positions and enrollment. Within a year, we went from 46 part-time faculty to fewer than 5. Hiring of full-time faculty nearly stopped with only two faculty hired from 1990 to 1999 in spite of the loss of faculty due to death, retirement, and resignations. By 1994, the department was the smallest it had been since the 1970’s. Calculus enrollments continued to decline, in part because more students were taking Advanced Placement Calculus courses in High School. More students were also taking first year Calculus course at Community Colleges. Our graduate program, however, was designated as the fastest growing Graduate program by our Office of Analytic Studies.
The department decided to split our Precalculus course in two; College Algebra and Precalculus (Math 115 and Math 125 respectively). The reason was that the previous Precalculus course was over-preparing those students that were continuing their studies with a Survey of Calculus course, and under-preparing for those continuing on to the standard four semester Calculus sequence. The department also initiated a High School Calculus Program. This was a program where Cal State Fullerton offered a section of Calculus at area high schools taught by a mathematician at that school that had a Master’s Degree in Mathematics.
We had two distinguished guest Speakers in 1989/90; Dr. Clarence Stephens from SUNY Potsdam who had achieved documented, unusual success with the mathematics students on that campus, and Tom Apostle, a well-known author and also the developer of Project Mathematics! This project produced excellent videos on topics available for high school students.
By 1990/91, our Calculus enrollments had finally stabilized. There were now six High Schools participating in the Calculus High School Program. Our student Putnam Team finished in the top third in the nation. In addition, Project SAFEMAP (Pagni and Shultz) won a Golden Bell Award. This honor is awarded by the California School Boards Foundation and was the first time this award had been given at the university level. The department was also honored to have Drs. Bill Gearhart and Harris Shultz win the MAA’s George Polya Award for Expository Writing. Finally, all courses in the Calculus Workshop Program now gave credit for students enrolled in the course and workload credit for the faculty instructors.
The year of 1992 was a time of contrasts. Severe budget cuts led to the loss of seven positions for the department. Dr. David Pagni was named Outstanding Professor for our campus to be followed next year by being named Outstanding Professor for the entire CSU system. We had a very active Math Club that year; the students sponsored a faculty speaker series and raised funds to allow for their own scholarship. Several student research projects were initiated by Drs. Stephen Goode and Mario Martelli. Dr. Gerald Gannon was named as the University’s Outstanding Advisor. This was due primarily for his work with undergraduate students who were prospective teachers and also with current teachers enrolled in our Master’s Degree Program.
By 1993/94, we were still suffering from severe budget cuts; our budget had been cut by 32% over the past three years. We now had 9 high schools participating in the High School Calculus Program. Dr. Mario Martelli received the Distinguished Teacher Award for the southern California Mathematical Association of America (MAA). In 1995, three faculty members, Drs. Russ Egbert, Greg Pierce, and Bill Gearhart, received a National Science Foundation grant to establish a simulation laboratory. While individual faculty had had computers for their offices for several years, this marked the first departmental effort to have computers available for student use both as an open lab and for use during classroom instruction. Several student computer labs were available within the school, but this was primarily an instructional lab for undergraduate and graduate mathematics course that was under the direct control of the Department. The use of this room has grown steadily both in the number of courses and the number of students utilizing this facility.
The Remediation Controversy
Also in 1995, at the request of the administration, the department assumed full responsibility to teach non-baccalaureate credit Intermediate Algebra courses (Remedial Mathematics), under the direction of Dr. Harris Shultz. This represented a major philosophical shift within the Department. Prior to this, we were the only Department of Mathematics in the CSU system not to offer a remedial program and were uninterested in doing so. As previously mentioned, the founding chair Dr. Dennis Ames was firmly set against offering such low-level courses and certainly not non-credit courses. The founding President Dr. William Langsdorf was also opposed to offering remedial courses. Ultimately, the majority of department faculty thought that we needed to offer these courses ourselves, and that there was a major benefit to our graduate students both financially and in terms of obtaining experience teaching at this level. A vote was taken to assume this responsibility. There was a CSU system level requirement that all students needing remediation must be placed in a class with the intention of making up these remedial requirements by the end of their freshman year. In the Fall of 1998, 50 sections of remedial math were offered. Freshmen were required to have their remedial requirements completed before they can begin their sophomore year.
The Age of Technology
In the 1990s, the department had made considerable strides in introducing technology into the curriculum. Several faculty came to us with considerable computer expertise, most notably Drs. Darryl Katz, Stephen Goode and Ernie Solheid. They gave generously of their time and knowledge to help bring faculty and staff into the computer age. More and more faculty began using computers. The Department was once again honored to have Dr. Mario Martelli selected as the Outstanding Professor on campus.
Substantial growth in our offerings for prospective teachers also started to expand about this time at all levels. Additional senior level courses were introduced for students who wanted to learn more than was required to teach at the elementary or middle school level. We also created a Mathematics Education lab in MH 380-390 ideally located so that manipulatives are readily available for classroom instruction. Initial funding had become available for a Calculus lab, which was intended to have two rooms available that would allow for a projector connected to a computer and available to show how to use a handheld calculator. These small machines were becoming more sophisticated to the extent that they could perform most calculus functions. In the late 1990s, we were able to have hiring searches for the first time in nearly a decade.
In 1997-98 our Simulation Lab (SIMLAB) and Applied Statistics Lab (both in the same room) expanded in usage as does the Mathematics Education Lab. Drs. DeLand and Solheid taught a “reform” calculus course utilizing hand-held calculators. The department also hired a computer technician shared half time with Geology. The Reform Calculus instruction continued in 1998-99 with Drs. DeLand and Solheid teaching the 2nd year Calculus using the methods and technology of the reform calculus while Drs. Goode and Martelli taught the first-year calculus sequence using the reform ideas. We now had 60 part time faculty members. Our FTES (full time equivalent students) reached an all-time high of 1298.
By 1999-2000, we had completed our Smart Classrooms for Calculus instruction in MH 480 and 476. These rooms, designed primarily be Drs. DeLand and Solheid with advice from an architectural firm, included projectors with multiple white boards and computer access to allow many options for the instructor. We hired three full-time lecturers to provide greater continuity in the calculus series and to reduce the number of part time instructors, and were at the point now that we need a full-time technician. For the first time in the history of CSUF, all full-time faculty in the university were issued computers.
Dr. Mario Martelli received an award for Distinguished Service to the Southern California of the MAA; this award was presented to him at the joint national meetings. Three of Mario’s students receive 1st and 3rd place awards at national poster presentations – the same three are awarded Honorable Mention at the International Model Building Competition. In addition, four faculty entered the Faculty Early Retirement Program (FERP). Four full-time lecturers were hired, bringing the total to six. The replacement of the founding faculty members was now well under way.
Enrollment continued to grow in 2000/01 based in part on larger freshmen classes but also in Teacher Education classes and courses for Computer Science majors. By 2001/02, all sections of Calculus were using a textbook emphasizing the reform calculus. The laboratory rooms utilizing more computer usage are fully utilized. The Master’s Program for Teachers adds a course in Probability and Statistics in major part because more high school mathematics programs now taught a course in Statistics. Two courses that are sequels to our junior level courses for prospective elementary level mathematics teachers were added to the curriculum for those teachers who either want more mathematics preparation or who wish to teach at the Junior High School level each run with one section in the Fall and then in the Spring. Enrollment in our Master’s Program for Teachers had reached the level where we could run two sections each term in Fall, Spring and Summer. Two new scholarships were given thanks to benefactors: a Klein Family Award for a prospective High School Teacher and The Brandon Tran Scholarship. We had two notable speakers this year: Scott Malloy who was the California High School Teacher of the year and Dr. David Moore, an internationally known Statistician who was also President of the American Statistical Association.
The department continued to garner honors and awards. Dr. David Pagni was the recipient of a $6.5 million NSF grant to enhance mathematics instruction. David was also honored by receiving the Wang Award given by Trustee Dr. Wang. Dr. Harris Shultz received the Distinguished Service Award to Education from the Orange County Office of Education. Dr. Charles Lee’s paper on Neonatal Jaundice received the Award for Best Paper at a meeting in Singapore on Biological and Medical Engineering. Several students were also involved in this project and won competitions in statewide student research competitions. At the joint national meetings this year, eight of our students presented at the student poster session and three won awards. Later in the year at the CSU Undergraduate Research Competition, one of our students won 1st prize in the Science division. In 2003-04, our Statistics group began to develop plans for a Master’s in Statistics, and an Actuarial program was developed jointly with the Business College. Dr. Paul DeLand became chair in 2004/05, replacing Jim Friel after 24 years as chair.
Department of Mathematics Faculty Members by Decade of Hire
Charles Hung Lee
Andrew Loc Nguyen
Laura Smith Chowdhury
W. Riley Casper