Department of Mathematical Sciences

History of Mathematical Sciences at Clemson University

Donald R LaTorre

LaTorre

Don was born and raised in Charleston, S. C. and chose Wofford College to begin his higher education. After receiving his Bachelor's degree in 1960, he attended the University of Tennessee, receiving his Master's degree in 1962 and his PhD degree in 1964. He served as an officer in the U. S. Army for two years and taught for one quarter at the University of Tennessee in the spring of 1967. He became an assistant professor in the Mathematical Sciences Department in the fall of 1967. Don's research field was in algebra (semi-group theory) and he directed several students' master's degree papers and two PhD students. Don became associate professor (1971) and then was promoted to professor in 1976.

During his 28 years at Clemson University Don was an active leader in course and curriculum development in both the undergraduate and graduate levels. This work was coupled with work in mathematics education here at Clemson and throughout South Carolina as well as in many other states. Don was a pioneer in implementing the use of programmable graphical calculators to enhance the teaching of mathematics in the public schools and in the freshman year of college. He was a member of the Mathematical Association of America, the National College Teachers of Mathematics, and the South Carolina Teachers of Mathematics. He gave many presentations at the conferences of these organizations as well as conferences sponsored by other organizations. He was a principal investigator for many projects in this area including grants sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the National Research Council, and the Department of Education's FIPSE program.

Professor LaTorre served as Director of Undergraduate Studies for several years in Clemson University's Mathematical Sciences Department in addition to service on many other University, College, and Departmental Committees. He was the primary force in leading Clemson University to adopt the use of calculators in engineering and business calculus and gave many workshops to discuss the appropriate use of this technology. Clemson University was the pioneer in such an endeavor and their example was widely adopted at other schools. Don also used the calculator to enhance the teaching of linear algebra and was in demand for reports of his methods at national meetings of professional conferences.

Don had over 40 publications and nearly 100 presentations during his career. He was the collegiate member of South Carolina's effort to implement the NCTM Standards in the 1990s. At the peak of his activity Don had a stroke in the summer of 1995 and had to retire. Since his retirement was in the same time period with another leader in the area of mathematics education (John Kenelly) our department has had to scramble to fill the holes left by these retirements.

LaTorre In this picture Don is shown with the participants of one of the weeklong workshops associated with his FIPSE grant on the enhancement of elementary mathematics with technology. He is at the right end of the middle row with red checked shirt. Former Clemson graduates Steve King (first row on the left) and Hugh Williams (back row: gray beard) were participants along with public school teachers and college professors from several states. John Kenelly and Gil Proctor are also in the photograph.

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