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Department of Mathematical Sciences

History of Mathematical Sciences at Clemson University

Clayton V. Aucoin

Aucoin

Clayton Aucoin received his BA degree at Louisiana College in 1951, his MS degree in 1952, and his PhD degree in 1956 at Auburn University. He became a Systems Engineer for an aircraft company and then began teaching at Southwestern Louisiana College/University. In 1960-1961 he was awarded a NSF fellowship at Stanford University.

In 1963 he became an Associate Professor in the Mathematics Department at Clemson College and in 1964 became Professor and the Department Head of that Department. At this time there were 24 faculty in the department which contained two full professors and five PhDs (Aucoin, Hare, Hind, Lukawecki, and Kenelly). In 1965-1966 there were four new PhDs (Brawley, Proctor, Seo and Sobcyzk). In 1966-1967, there were 3 more PhDs (Cholewinski, Cover, and Reneke), in 1967-1969 there were 10 more PhDs (Bose, Fulton, Laskar, LaTorre, Luedeman, O'Reilly, Owen, Poole, Russell and Wallenius).

In 1969 Clayton became the Dean of the new College of Mathematics and the Physical Sciences (the Department had been part of the College of Arts and Sciences) and hired John Kenelly as the Department Head (from his position as Department Head at the University of Louisiana at New Orleans). During 1969-1970, four more PhDs were in the Department (Alam, Fennell, Haymond, and Ruckle). They were hired by Clayton in 1968.

In the space of six years, Clayton had hired 23 faculty members. This new faculty was already generating sponsored research and producing scholarly publications and PhD students and hosting several conferences. (This involved many receptions hosted by Mrs. Claire Aucoin who deserves much credit for the successes in recruiting.) In addition Clayton established a graduate student recruitment process that featured trips to various southeastern colleges (including some in Louisiana) and many excellent students chose Clemson for their graduate programs. In the meanwhile under his leadership "several options" were incorporated into the Bachelor of Science degree program. Every such undergraduate was required to take one of these options after obtaining a foundation course in each: chemistry, communications, computing science, management science, operations research, and physics.

In 1969 the College of Arts and Sciences was divided into to two colleges. The Mathematical Sciences Department was housed in the College of Mathematical and Physical Sciences. Clayton served as Dean of the new College only two years. As one of his contributions as Dean he strongly recommended that the new college incorporate the biological sciences and be renamed the College of Sciences. This was done somewhat later. When he returned to the Mathematics Department he served as Director of Graduate Studies from 1971-1985. During this time the Department added strength in operations research, computing, and statistics. (Clayton played a key role in hiring two operations researchers, Lin Dearing and Rick Jarvis.) At this time there was a reduction in the demand for PhDs in most academic institutions. It was apparent there was a need for a program that produced graduate students who were versed in not only traditional mathematics but also in the other mathematical sciences: computing, operations research, and statistics as well as an ability to interact with scientists in other fields. A good reference to the history of the reform introduced at Clemson University assisted by funds from the National Science Foundation is described in the book Applied Mathematical Modeling edited by D.R. Shier and K.T. Wallenius and published by Chapman Hall CRC (see pp. 423-427). Clayton Aucoin was the principal investigator for this award and the leader in the development of the new curriculum. This development continues today, one of the most successful efforts ever funded by the NSF. Again Claire Aucoin was an essential part of the report writing and the form that the reform took.

Claire Aucoin Claire Aucoin was also a key instructor for the mathematical courses that were given to students in elementary education in the Aucoin's early period at Clemson University. These courses were difficult for these students and this particular teaching assignment was not popular. Later she turned from this work to teaching calculus. She was an invaluable asset to our Department in many ways. On the occasion of Clayton's 65-th birthday, the Department established the Claire and Clayton Aucoin Scholarship for Graduate Students. Clayton and Claire retired in 1988 but continue to take an interest in the Mathematical Sciences Department.

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