William H. Meyer, Mathematics
William Herman Meyer (S.M.'37, Ph.D.'47), Professor Emeritus in Mathematics, died Nov. 17 after a long illness. He was 78.
Meyer was associated with the University of Chicago for more than 40 years, first as a graduate student and then as a professor of mathematics. He was concerned with math education at all levels, from grade school through graduate school, and was a motivating force behind special educational programs that the University established to bring high school students to campus to study mathematics during the summer.
Between 1957 and 1975, Meyer was the director of 20 National Science Foundation programs for students, high school teachers and college professors at Chicago and in Santa Barbara, Calif.
"He was really very much interested in and a leader in math education before it became fashionable," said R. Narasimhan, Professor in Mathematics. "He pushed mathematics education at all levels. That was very important to him."
Meyer was Associate Chairman of Mathematics from 1968 until shortly before his retirement in 1985. Narasimhan said Meyer was largely responsible for the smooth functioning of the Mathematics Department, and faculty as well as students depended on him. "It was Meyer who took care of all the students, both graduate and undergraduate," he said.
Meyer came to the University as a graduate student in 1936 after receiving his undergraduate degree from Westminster College in Pennsylvania. He received his master's degree in mathematics from Chicago in 1937 and then left the University for a succession of teaching positions at Bowling Green State University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the College of Wooster. He returned to Chicago in 1943 to begin work on his Ph.D.
His doctoral studies were interrupted by World War II, and he spent two years at the Ballistic Research Laboratories at the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland before returning to Chicago in 1946 to complete his doctoral research. He received his Ph.D. in 1947.
He became Assistant Professor in 1948, Associate Professor in 1951 and Professor in 1963.
Meyer received a University prize for excellence in undergraduate teaching in 1951. He served on a number of University committees, and was chair of the curriculum committee for the Physical Sciences Division from 1972 to 1977. He was president of the Chicago Chapter of Sigma Xi, the scientific honor society, from 1969 to 1971.
Survivors include his wife, Margaret, who was for many years a University employee; and two children, Scott Meyer of Burbank, Calif., and Elizabeth Meyer of Charlottesville, Va. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10, in Bond Chapel. A reception in Swift Commons will follow.