Valsame also witnessed the birth of a new epoch in the teaching of
mathematics at Wake Forest. "During my last semester," he recalled,
"I had the opportunity to take a course under a new professor, Dr.
Ivey Gentry It was evident he represented the dawning of a new day
that would lead to greater intellectual heights and depth in
mathematics for the institution. He was the ideal person to carry the
best of the old to undergird the new."
When Professor Gentry joined the department in 194-9, he was the
only one of its six members who held the doctorate. Becoming
chairman in 1956, he recruited every member of the growing de-
partment except Dr. John W. Sawyer, a Wake Forest graduate who
held master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Missouri.
He joined the faculty in 1956. Longterm members of the teaching
staff brought in by Gentry included J. Robert Johnson, a Wake Forest
graduate with a
doctorate, recruited in 1957; Ben M. Seel-
binder, a graduate of Mississippi Delta State College with a doctorate
from the University of North Carolina, in 1959; twin brothers J.
Gaylord and W. Graham May, Wofford graduates whose doctorates
were from the University of Virginia, in 1961; Marcellus E. Waddill,
a Hampden-Sydney alumnus whose graduate work was done at the
University of Pittsburgh, in 1962; Alfred T Brauer, whose doctorate
was earned in Berlin, in 1965; and Frederic T. Howard, a Vanderbilt
graduate with a Duke doctorate, in 1966. "It is a widely accepted
fact," Gentry's colleagues said of him, "that Gentry built one of the
strongest and most highly respected departmental faculties" in the
At the beginning of the period under examination, courses in
college algebra and trigonometry were required for all degrees. In
1946 candidates for the Bachelor of Arts degree were allowed to
substitute six additional hours in the major or minor field for the
second course in math. In 1956 the requirement was three semester
hours for all degrees, with Bachelor of Science candidates allowed to
elect up to six additional hours.
Even with the changing requirements, enrollment for mathematics
courses grew steadily. In the forties the average enrollment in math
for the fall semester was 581 students. That number grew to 611 in
the fifties, and 1,028 in the sixties. For the forties the average number
of majors was ten to twelve per year, rising to eighteen to twenty in
the fifties. The average for the sixties was thirty each year.
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