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Cyrus Colton MacDuffee, 1945-1946 MAA President

Born: June 29, 1895, Oneida, New York
Died: August 21, 1961, Madison, Wisconsin

Cyrus Colton MacDuffee was a mathematics professor at the University of Wisconsin.

Presidency: 1945-1946

MacDuffee succeeded W.D. Cairns on the War Policy Committee, starting at the beginning of 1945. As president, MacDuffee gave a talk on "An Objective in Education" for the Wisconsin section of the MAA.

In 1945, the MAA created a coordinating committee to facilitate communication among local sections of the MAA and keep track of the progress of all U.S. educational movements.

Education and Career

1917 Colgate University, B.S.
1920 University of Chicago, S.M.
1922 University of Chicago, Ph.D., advised by L.E. Dickson

MacDuffee taught at Princeton University from 1922 to 1925 and at Ohio State University from 1925 to 1935 but spent the majority of his academic career as a professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin.

At the University of Wisconsin, MacDuffee immediately succeeded R.E. Langer as chair of the department, from 1952 to 1956. He continued teaching, advising doctoral theses, and contributing to the American Mathematical Monthly until shortly before he died in 1961.

MacDuffee published extensively, especially in the Monthly, for which he also refereed papers. His writing includes research and expository papers and monographs, primarily on abstract algebra. He wrote the Carus Mathematical Monograph Vectors and Matrices.

MacDuffee was a member of the National Research Council and secretary of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was also active in the American Mathematical Society on its council and as editor of Transactions of the AMS.

MacDuffee served the MAA as second vice president in 1942-44 and on the board of governors as an ex-president from 1947 to 1952. When his term on the board of governors had expired, he wrote the following January 12, 1953, letter to Harry M. Gehman, secretary-treasurer of the MAA.

Dear Gehman:

Thank you for your nice letter kicking me off the Board of Governors. I had figured that it was about due.

As Julius Caesar once remarked, tempus sure does fugit and it doesn't seem long ago that I attended my first meeting of the Board. The members all seemed very ancient to me then, but now I undoubtedly seem ancient to the new members.

I trust that you will have many reelections to the office of Secretary-Treasurer until the newly elected members will say to one another, "Do you see that old man over there with the cane and the long beard? That is Harry Gehman!"


External Resources

Ohio State University biography

Records of editors, presidents, and secretaries from MAA headquarters, C.C. MacDuffee, 1945-1947 at the Archives of American Mathematics

Cyrus C. MacDuffee papers, 1944-1961

University of Wisconsin Math Department Faculty 1849-2010

The Mathematics Genealogy Project