Ivan Niven

Ivan Niven, an internationally respected mathematician, was born in Vancouver, Canada on October 25 1915. He died in Eugene on May 9 1999. A `Celebration of Life' is scheduled for 3 PM on Sunday June 19 at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Eugene.

Ivan earned a Bachelor's degree (1934) and a Master's degree (1936) at the University of British Columbia. He received the Ph. D. in 1938 at the University of Chicago with Leonard Eugene Dickson as his thesis advisor. He held a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania for the year 1938-9. He served three years on the faculty of the University of Illinois and for five years on the faculty of Perdue University. He joined the mathematics department of the University of Oregon in 1947, retiring in 1982. During that period he also had visiting appointments at the University of British Columbia (1953), Stanford University (1957-58), and the University of California, Berkeley (1964-5).

Ivan played a very important role in developing the Ph. D. program in mathematics at the University of Oregon. He was adviser for the first three individuals who earned Ph. D. degrees in the department and for thirteen others who earned that degree under his guidance.

Ivan's colleagues recognized him as an articulate, inspiring, dedicated teacher whose classes were enlivened by his charming sense of humor. He was clearly an excellent teacher. He was the author or co-author of seven highly respected books dealing with mathematics. Five of those books are still in print. Collectively they have been published in eleven different languages. He was active in research throughout his life. His research publications comprise more than 60 papers.

Ivan served the national mathematical associations with great distinction throughout his career. He was president of the Mathematical Association of America in 1982-83. He was governor of the Pacific Northwest section from 1955 to 1958 and again from 1979 to 1982. He was in demand as an invited lecturer and as a traveling lecturer. He was a valued member of innumerable committees of the Mathematical Association of American and of the American Mathematics Society. He was a consultant for nearly 30 years for the New Mathematical Library Series. In 1989, he was given the MAA's highest honor for achievement, the Award of Distinguished Service to Mathematics.

Ivan's value to the University of Oregon was clearly recognized by his many years on the President Advisory Council and on the Dean's Advisory Council. In 1981, he received the Charles E. Johnson Award for his outstanding faculty service. His wise counsel was sought throughout the University. In describing Ivan's contributions to the mathematical world and to the University of Oregon and to the Eugene community, one can only use superlatives. He was outstanding in all areas.

In his activities he was aided and complemented by his talented wife, Betty.

Memorial delivered by Professor Ghent to the University Assembly 2 June 1999

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Last updated 30 July, 2002