Lonseth Lectures: A deep commitment to mathematical education

The Lonseth Lecture Series was established in 1985 to honor Arvid T. Lonseth, Professor Emeritus and former chair of OSU’s Mathematics Department. A superb and devoted scholar and teacher of mathematics, Dr. Lonseth joined OSU’s Mathematics Department in 1948 and served as department chair from 1954-68. The lecture series is a testimony to his deep commitment to the mathematical education of students, especially undergraduates.

Arvid T. Lonseth

Photo credit: Courtesy of Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Oregon State University Libraries.

One of his former students from the late 1950s, Judy Allen, devoted a chapter in her 2012 memoir to him, saying the “non-gender-biased  dear man” inspired and mentored her and ultimately changed her life. Married at 18 and mother of three children by 22, she was majoring in Home Ec but longed to study math and computer science. Dr. Lonseth saw that she pursued her dreams.

This happened over tea at the Azalea House, a coop house for Home Ec majors, when students invited their favorite professor to tea. Lonseth was the only man at the tea party.

Setting his teacup on a side table, he bent down to look in Judy’s face. “You’re very good at math. That should be your major.” Read more of her reflection of Dr. Lonseth.

Dr. Lonseth earned his B.A. in mathematics at Stanford University and his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1939. His research was focused on integral equations, the calculus of variations, and computational methods.

The Department of Mathematics holds its Annual Lonseth Lecture Series spring term. Prior to the lecture, the department celebrates the achievements of undergraduates, graduates, and faculty with its annual Mathematics awards ceremony.

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