Newsletter Masthead

Gifts Benefit Students

The department offers a very sincere thank you to Robert S. Pharr and to Sam C. and Ruth Ann Saunders for their generous contributions to support our graduate program.

The Robert S. Pharr Graduate Fellowship in Mathematics in honor of Dr. Tyre Newton was established in 2018 and complements the many other graduate fellowships Dr. Pharr has established in the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education. In Arts and Sciences, The Robert S. Pharr Graduate Fellowship in Physics and Astronomy and the Robert S. Pharr Graduate Fellowship in Chemistry both honor Percy M. Pharr, Dr. Pharr’s father and a 1936 WSU graduate in architectural engineering. In the College of Education, Dr. Pharr established the Robert S. Pharr Graduate Fellowship in Honor of Dr. William McDougall and the Robert S. Pharr Graduate Fellowship in Honor of Dr. James Hicklin.

Bob Pharr completed three degrees at WSU. In 1965, he earned his BA in general studies – science, and in 1970 and 1979, he earned his MA in education and his PhD in education, respectively. Bob taught physics at Pullman High School for over three decades before retiring and teaching himself graduate-level mathematics. Bob wrote the VecGraphs software program for teachers, students, and other individuals to use at no cost. The description at math.wsu.edu/academics/VecGraph/welcome.php says: “This software allows you to study the relation between graphs and their equations, and provides a learn by doing approach to mathematics.”

The Sam C. and Ruth Ann Saunders Graduate Fellowship in Mathematics was established in the fall of 2021. The Saunders wish to support graduate students who are pursuing degrees in mathematics with applications in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Sam Saunders was born in Richland, Oregon, in 1931 during the Great Depression. In 1944, his family moved to LaGrande, Oregon. He attended Eastern Oregon University (at the time, Eastern Oregon College) and the University of Oregon. He graduated with a degree in mathematics as well as a Phi Beta Kappa key and a DeCou award. Sam then went on to the University of Washington to earn his PhD in mathematics. Afterward, he worked at Boeing until the early 1970s, at which time he became a professor of mathematics at WSU. Sam is known for fundamental contributions to reliability theory and fatigue life models of metals and materials.

Ruth Ann Saunders was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1932. She studied mathematics at the University of Washington. After graduation, she was a computer programmer and was among the first to work on IBM’s interpretation of a Turing Machine. In 1954, she and Sam were married.

Again, a very sincere thank you to Robert S. Pharr and to Sam C. and Ruth Ann Saunders for their establishment and continued contributions to these WSU Foundation Endowment Funds. Your gifts provide wonderful support and opportunities for our graduate students.

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