A Scholarly Achievement

November 18, 2022

Math professor publishes two books with support from Gaines Chair

Dr. Robert E. Gaines

A decades-old gift to the University of Richmond continues to make an impact on campus today, and Dr. Della Dumbaugh, professor of mathematics, is grateful to have benefited from it.  
 
This fall, Dumbaugh published two books with financial support from the Robert Edwin Gaines Chair in Mathematics. Count Me In: Community and Belonging in Mathematics was co-authored with Dr. Deanna Haunsperger of Carleton College, and A History of Mathematics in the United States and Canada, Volume 2: 1900-1941 was written by Dr. David E. Zitarelli with Dumbaugh and Dr. Stephen Kennedy of the Mathematical Association of America.
 
In spring 2021, Dumbaugh brought Haunsperger and Kennedy (who are married) to UR to conduct research and collaborate on the two books. “Steve and I had been working on our project for three years, and Deanna and I had been working for two years,” Dumbaugh said. “Having them here for the semester allowed us to bring [the books] across the finish line.”
 
Count Me In introduces readers to 26 different mathematical communities and addresses important questions about how they form, how they thrive, and how they advance individuals and the group as a whole. Dumbaugh and Haunsperger launched a podcast, “Count Me In with Della and Deanna,” in connection with the book, and they recently published an article about ideas from the book in an academic journal, The Mathematical Intelligencer.
 
Dumbaugh and Kennedy worked together to complete A History of Mathematics, which had been left unfinished by acclaimed math historian David Zitarelli when he died in 2018. “The volume had most of the chapters complete, but there were some missing pieces,” Dumbaugh said. “His family asked us to bring this to publication. David had spent 15 years on this project, and we spent three more. It was a monumental undertaking.”
 
The Gaines Chair covered funding for Haunsperger’s salary and the couple's travel and housing costs. Established in 1985, the chair honors the late Dr. Robert Edwin Gaines, a former Richmond College dean who chaired the mathematics department and taught math courses for nearly six decades. Since 2001, this endowed fund has been used primarily to bring a distinguished visiting scholar to campus for a semester. Over the past two decades, the chair has funded at least eight visiting scholars, including Haunsperger and Kennedy.
 
“The Gaines Chair allowed us to bring two books to fruition,” Dumbaugh said. “Now, these books will go into the hands of people that we don’t know. They’re going to hopefully expand the discipline of mathematics to people we may never meet.”
 
Dumbaugh’s connection to Gaines extends beyond the chair. From 2016 to 2020, she lived at 3 Bostwick Lane, a university-owned cottage that is believed to have been built and owned by Gaines during his time at Richmond College. It is also believed that Gaines’ daughter, Elizabeth Pendleton Gaines, was born on campus, likely in this house. Gaines died in 1959, and Elizabeth was the beneficiary of her father’s estate. When she died in 1985, the estate was used to establish the Gaines Chair. 
 
In 2023, the chair will be used to support visiting professor Dr. John Polhill, ’93, P’21, of Bloomsburg University, hosted by UR mathematics professor Dr. James Davis, P’11, P’12, P’15. Polhill has previously collaborated with Davis on projects in coding theory and combinatorics. During the semester, they will focus their research on partial difference sets.
 
“Dr. Gaines gave tremendous service to the institution, the department, and its students,” Dumbaugh said. “There is no way that he could have predicted the long-term benefits and tangible outcomes of his gift."
 
To learn more about supporting or creating an endowed faculty fund, please email donorrelations@richmond.edu.