Arnold Ephraim Ross 1906 - 2002

Arnold Ephraim Ross, 1906 - 2002

Arnold Ross was born in Chicago August 24, 1906, spent his childhood in Odessa, Russia, returning to Chicago in 1924. He enrolled at the University of Chicago, where his ideas about mathematics education were deeply influenced by E. H. Moore. Ross earned his Ph.D. in mathematics under the direction of L. E. Dickson, graduating in 1931.

In the 1930s he taught at Caltech, People’s Junior College, and St. Louis University. During World War II he served as a research mathematician in the U.S. Navy. In 1946 he was appointed Head of the Mathematics Department at the University of Notre Dame. Professor Ross left Notre Dame in 1963 to become chair of the Department of Mathematics at the Ohio State University, retiring in 1976.

Perhaps the most notable lifetime achievement of Arnold Ross was the summer program he started at Notre Dame for high school students talented in mathematics. Even before the Sputnik era, Ross divined the need for encouraging such students and he developed innovative methods to inspire them to develop their creativity and problem-solving skills. Those challenging summer experiences benefited most of those students throughout their lives. Dr. Ross moved his program to Ohio State University in 1964, where it thrived. When he neared retirement, he moved his summer program to the University of Chicago, where it continued from 1975 to 1979. He recreated the program at Ohio State again in 1979 and led it every summer until poor health forced him to retire in 2000 at age 94. During the 1970s he also carried versions of his program to India and West Germany where local efforts flourished for several years, and he assisted colleagues with a similar summer program in Australia. Alumni of the “Ross Program” at Ohio State have created similar programs at other universities in the United States and Canada.

Professor Ross also initiated innovative outreach programs (New Horizons and Horizons Unlimited) in the 1960s for inner city school children in Columbus, and served on several national committees concerned with mathematics education. He received many academic honors including national awards for teaching and service in mathematics: the OSU Distinguished Teaching Award (1974) and Distinguished Service Award (1981), an honorary Doctoral Degree from Denison University (1984), the Mathematics Association of America Award for Distinguished Service (1986), and the American Mathematical Society Citation for Public Service (1998). Moreover, the American Math Society established its “Arnold Ross Lecture Series” in his honor (1993).

Arnold Ross married Bertha (Bee) Horecker in 1931. Although they had no children, they had a long and happy marriage until her death in 1983. Professor Ross was fortunate to find love again. In 1990, he married Madeleine Green, who remained with him in a close relationship for the rest of his life.

Some old photos of Arnold Ross can be viewed here.

Several articles about Professor Ross have appeared in the Notices of the American Mathematical Society. A report on Dr. Ross’s “Ninetieth Birthday Conference” appeared in the October 1996 issue of the Notices. An interview with Arnold Ross appeared in the August 2001 issue of the Notices.

Two memorial articles appeared in the MAA Focus, in December 2002 and January 2003. A longer memorial article appeared in the June/July 2003 issue of the Notices.