A Brief History of Mathematics at Acadia

Mathematics has been taught at Acadia since its inception in 1838, when Edmund Crawley was named Professor of Logic, Mental Philosophy, Rhetoric and Mathematics. Isaac Chipman was appointed Instructor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy in January of 1840, a position he held until his untimely death in June 1852, when the boat in which he and several students were returning from a field trip to Cape Blomidon capsized.

Throughout the following years Acadia continuously maintained at least one mathematics faculty member, and these included Henry Johnston (1852-53), A. P. S. Stuart (1853-58), Alfred Chipman (1858-59), Henry Vaughan (1859-60), D. Francis Higgins (1860-98), Cecil Charles Jones (1898-1906), Raymond Archibald (1907-08), and Wilbur Alden Coit (1908-1924). Professor Jones left Acadia to become the President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of New Brunswick. Raymond Archibald left Acadia for Brown University, where he remained until his retirement, serving as the librarian for the American Mathematical Society, and as the President of the Mathematical Association of America.

Ralph Jeffery was Professor from 1924-42, when he left to Chair the Mathematics Department at Queen's. At that time the Department had three members, M.S. MacPhail, D.O. Snow, and F. Rothberger, and offered a 4-year degree consisting of courses in  Plane Trigonometry and Advanced Algebra, Differential and Integral Calculus, Differential and Integral Calculus II,  Advanced Calculus, Advanced Analytic Geometry, Differential Equations, Statistical Methods, and Mathematics of Finance, along with a number of more advanced reading courses.  An ordinary major was required to take the first three of these plus an additional 4th course. Honours students were required to take more. The Department at that time also had an active Master's Degree Program which involved intensive course work in Analysis and Geometry, along with a thesis.

Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s the program kept essentially the same structure. MacPhail left (as did Rothberger) and David Haley joined the Department, and was Chair for many years. From the late 1960s through the 1970s Acadia underwent considerable expansion, and the Department began to offer a wider variety of courses dedicated to serve other departments, in addition to its own students. Of prominence in this was the introduction and considerable growth of the School of Computer Science and the increased interest in the use of statistical methods in departments across campus. To reflect these trends, the name of the Department was officially changed in 1991 to Mathematics and Statistics. This core group of faculty would remain in place largely unchanged until the late 1990s. 

Beginning in 1999, the Department's faculty began a wave of retirements which saw the entire faculty renewed. This overhaul has contributed considerable energy and enthusiasm, and has seen the resurrection of our graduate program and a major increase in our Department's external profile.