Eisenhart and Coble: Gettysburg grads who became math legends

Of the 134 students attending the College in 1895, two would become the president of one of the world's most important academic societies

Read an abridged version of an article written by Prof. Darren Glass, chair of the Department of Mathematics, for "Notices of the American Mathematical Society."

As of 2012, 61 people had held the office of the president of the American Mathematical Society (AMS). Of these, 10 received undergraduate degrees from Harvard and another five from Columbia University. Five schools have had three alumni apiece go on to serve as AMS president, and none of the schools would surprise you—Princeton, Yale, Cambridge, Texas, and Chicago. But three more schools have had two alumni each become AMS president: MIT, Wesleyan University, and yes, Gettysburg College. 

Two Gettysburg College alumni served as back-to-back presidents of the AMS, Luther Pfahler Eisenhart in 1931-32 and Arthur Byron Coble in 1933-34. They graduated from Gettysburg, then known as Pennsylvania College, a year apart, with Eisenhart one of the 16 members of the Class of 1896 and Coble one of the 26 members of the Class of 1897. In other words, of the 134 students who were attending Gettysburg College in 1895, two of them would become the president of one of the most important academic societies in the world.

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