List of all the chairs of the WVU Mathematics Department

since the founding of the University in 1867

H. W. Gould

WVU is a Land Grant Institution. From 1867 until 1891, the Federal Government (War Department) assigned military officers on a rotating basis to such institutions to teach military science and tactics and be head of the cadet corps. Because of the lack of funds, WVU imposed on these officers to also teach undergraduate mathematics, such as calculus. Lt. Ingalls (1877-1878) was such a popular and effective teacher that the University tried to keep him here on a regular basis. West Virginia's Senator Waitman T. Willey (for whom Willey Street is named) wrote to U. S. President Rutherford B. Hayes, begging him to help. But President Hayes replied that he had no way to countermand the War Department. Remark: Ingalls left WVU and went to Fort Monroe, Va. where he founded the U. S. Army Ballistics School. He wrote major papers and books in this area, and was a major supporter of James J. Sylvester's American Journal of Mathematics at its inception in 1878.

By 1906, it was decided that a major effort had to be launched to secure a distinguished mathematician to come to WVU to head the Mathematics Department. Some 40 candidates applied, and John Eiesland, a Norwegian with a Ph. D. from Johns Hopkins University was chosen. In his 31-year tenure the first two Ph. D. degrees in mathematics were granted here at WVU in 1934. WVU did not offer doctoral work until 1930. Eiesland retired in 1938 and the Ph. D. program folded due to lack of research and interest in classical geometry. Topology was gaining ascendancy among research workers.

Our current doctoral program was initiated during the three year tenure of Al Baartmans, with our first new Ph. D. degree being awarded in 1993 to Gary Seldomridge. The strongest field of research and scholarship here has now been in discrete mathematics (combinatorics, number theory and graph theory). More than 35 doctorates have now been awarded in these and other fields of research that have been added.

Professor Baartmans had me start a regular Wednesday seminar in discrete mahematics and introduce a course on graph theory. The hiring of Professor Cun-Quan Zhang and later Hong-Jian Lai in graph theory assured us of a strong effort in this field of research. Other strong faculty in discrete mathematics include Professors Michael Mays, John Goldwasser, Jerzy Wojciechowski, and the author (now emeritus), guaranteeing strength to the program. For many years the program was also strengthened in the areas of hyperspace and continuum theory by the presence of Professor Samuel B. Nadler, Jr. (now emeritus), an internationally noted authority. The recent hiring of Professor Pawel Pralat adds more expertise to our discrete mathematics group, and we have a strong liaison with faculty in computer science and engineering.

The Chairs:

1867-69, Col. J. R. Weaver, A. M.
1869-75, Bvt. Capt. H. H. Pierce, A.M.
1875-77, Lt. E. T. C. Richmond
1877-78, Lt. James M. Ingalls
1878-79, Maj. Thomas F. Snyder
1879-84, Daniel Boardman Purinton, A. M.
1884-88, Lt. James L. Wilson
1888-91, Lt. Edward S. Avis, Ph.D.
1891-93, James Scott Stewart, M. S. (WVU graduate)
1893-94, Robert Allen Armstrong, A. M. (actually a professor of English)
1894-1907, James Scott Stewart, M. S.
1907-38, John Arndt Eiesland, Ph. D. (Johns Hopkins University doctorate)
1938-46, Clarence Newton Reynolds, Jr., Ph. D. (Harvard doctorate)
1946-60, Hannibal Albert Davis. Ph. D. (Cornell doctorate)
1960-65, Joseph Kyle Stewart, Ph. D. (WVU doctorate 1934)
1965-67, Iland Dee Peters, M. S.(acting chair) (WVU graduate)
1967-72, James Clifton Eaves, Ph. D. (Univ. of N. C. doctorate)
1972-73, Iland Dee Peters, M. S. (acting chair)
1973-79, Iland Dee Peters, M. S.
1979-80. James E. Dowdy, Ph.D. (acting chair) (Oklahoma State Univ. doctorate)
1980-82, Vadim Komkov. Ph. D. (Univ. of Utah doctorate)
1982-84, James E. Miller, Ph. D. (acting chair) (Univ. of Kentucky doctorate)
1984-85, John W. Schleusner, Ph. D. (interim chair) (Univ. of Alabama doctorate)
1985-88, Alphonse H. Baartmans, Ph. D. (Michigan State Univ. doctorae)
1988-90, James H. Lightbourne, Ph.D. (interim chair) (N.C.State Univ.doctorate)
1990-91, James H. Lightbourne, Ph.D.
1991-92. Michael E. Mays, Ph.D. (interim chair) (Penn. State Univ. doctorate)
1992-96. Harvey Diamond, (interim chair) (M.I.T. doctorate)
1996-99, Lawrence (Larry) N. Mann, Ph. D. (Univ. of Pennslvania doctorate)
1999-2008, Sherman D. Riemenschneider, Ph. D. (Syracuse Univ. doctorate)
2008-    , Edgar J. Fuller, Jr., Ph. D. (Univ. of Georgia doctorate)

Note: The author would appreciate any corrections to the list of chairs.

Photos of James Stewart, John Eiesland, Clarence Reynolds, Hannibal Davis, I. D. Peters, and J. C. Eaves may be seen on this web page under "Gould's Photo Album". Other photos will be added later.

A detailed account of the early years of mathematics at WVU, 1867-1967, may be found in the author's
historical paper written for the Centennial of the University [1]. This paper concentrates on the work of Professors Eiesland and Reynolds. For many years C. N. Reynolds had the best results towards proving the famous four color conjecture, which, however, was finally actually proved by Haken and Appel in 1976.


1. Henry W. Gould, A bibliography of research in mathematics at West Virginia University, 1867-1967,
    Proceedings of the West Virginia Academy of Science, Vol. 38(1966), pp. 123-133.

Revised 16 July 2010