College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Mathematics

Emeritus Professor Darrell C. Kent

After an illustrious career of 43 years at WSU, Darrell C. Kent retires in May 2006

Born in Monroe, Louisiana, Kent received his B.S. in physics from LSU in 1954, followed by a three-year stint in the Army, mostly in New Mexico. He stayed in New Mexico and received a M.S. in physics from UNM in 1959. The next few years included some very fortunate events: Darrell switched from physics to mathematics, he married Jan Benda in 1961, and in 1963 he received his Ph.D. from UNM and started his career at WSU.

During his years as a graduate student, Darrell worked two summers with the National Bureau of Standards and, though unrelated, it is difficult to think of Darrell Kent without thinking of his high academic and personal standards. Darrell is devoted to family, church, and academics. Darrell and Jan have four children, Cathy, Becky, Dan, and Sara, and eight grandchildren. The Kents were foster parents to another daughter Cathy for 2 years, and students in his graduate courses were often treated like family. Graduate classes looked forward to invitations to the Kent Ranch to see his cherry trees and prize-winning sheep.

Professor Kent has over 90 research publications (and counting) in general topology. More specifically, his research addresses uniform spaces, completions, probabilistic metric spaces, ordered topological spaces, and especially convergence structures, including what are now called “Kent convergence structures.” Kent has given invited research presentations at many prestigious international venues, including conferences in Italy, France, Spain, Poland, and three visits to Oberwolfach, Germany’s exclusive mathematics think-tank conference center in the Black Forrest. His contributions to general topology are undeniable, but his influence extends beyond his 90 plus papers. Professor Kent has certainly influenced the works, lives, and careers of his 13 Ph.D. students and his 23 coauthors. Tracing his academic genealogy (he received his Ph.D. from Jorg Mayer), one is not surprised to find names such as Frobenius, Helmholz, Weierstrass, Bessel, and Gauss.

However, for those who only casually know Darrell Kent, many surprises are in store. One might not suspect that a distinguished scholar of his caliber (and age) rides a motorcycle to work. Or that someone so informed on current events and world affairs has never lived in a house with a television. Or that Darrell once fell into the Grand Canyon and broke a leg.

In a complete reversal of protocol, on at least one occasion, Darrell Kent taught a remedial algebra class for a teaching assistant in the latter’s absence. A more widely known incident involves Darrell more than once sleeping on a cot in his office overnight during a snowstorm so he wouldn’t miss an exam the next day. Once, a friendly but mischievous graduate class presented Professor. Kent with an ice-cream cone from Ferdinand’s at the beginning of class, forcing him to struggle with the dilemma of whether to eat or lecture and drip.

The April, 2005 meeting of the American Mathematical Society, held in Bowling Green, Kentucky included a special session “Topology, Convergence, and Order, in honor of Darrell Kent.” This session was organized by his former PhD student Tom Richmond, who is now a Professor of Mathematics at Western Kentucky University. The main difficulty the organizers faced was narrowing the invitation list to 24, the maximum number of time-slots permitted by the AMS. All 24 time-slots were filled, with speakers traveling from Korea, Germany, Australia, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, Ireland, and various remote parts of the U.S. to honor Darrell.

Darrell Kent has influenced the lives and careers of innumerable students at WSU and mathematicians from around the world. He has been the model of a scholar and a gentleman. If anyone has earned a restful retirement, it is Darrell C. Kent, but knowing him, we expect his retirement will be busier--with grandchildren, gardening, lambing, and so forth--than his working days. We wish him well as he begins his retirement.

(The above was written by Tom Richmond, Professor of Mathematics at Western Kentucky University and a former PhD student of Dr. Kent.)

The Department of Mathematics held a retirement reception for Dr. Kent on May 4, 2006 to thank him for his many faithful years of service to the Department of Mathematics at Washington State University. Many faculty, students and friends attended to honor Dr. Kent. Dr. Kent will be greatly missed. Photos were taken during the reception and you may view them below. You may view a larger print of each photo by double clicking on it. Please wait for it to download.


Dr. and Mrs. Darrell Kent.

Reception cake.

Alan Genz, Dept. Chairman, congratulates Darrell Kent and speaks of his many accomplishments.

Dr. Kent thanks the department.

Dr. Kent is about to receive a gift from the department, presented by Alan Genz.

Dr. Kent receives a gift from the department, presented by Alan Genz.

Darrell Kent receives another gift, presented by Alan Genz.

Ph.D candidate, Kent Griffin, and Darrell Kent.

Ph.D candidate, Huajun Zhou, and Darrell Kent.

Ed Pate and Darrell Kent.

Ph.D candidate, Roden David and Darrell Kent.

Ph.D candidate, Seshu Rao, and Darrell Kent.

Master's degree candidate, Andrew Fowler, and Darrell Kent.

John Chuba and Andrew Fowler.

Mike Jacroux, Chairman of the Dept. of Statistics.

Mrs. Bill Webb.

Ed Pate, Kent Griffin, Alex Khapalov.

Bill Webb, Roden David, Alex Khapalov, and Carolyn Smith.

Bill Webb and Carolyn Smith.

Dr. Darrell C. Kent.

Raising sheep.

With the trusted dog.

On the farm.

A new chapter begins.
Department of Mathematics, PO Box 643113, Neill 103, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-3113 Phone: 509-335-3926 Fax: 509-335-1188 Contact Us