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John Howard Van Amringe

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3 April 1835

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania , USA

10 Sept 1915

Morristown, New Jersey, USA

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Howard Van Amringe was educated at home by his father until he entered Montgomery Academy. There he prepared to enter Yale University which he did in 1854. In 1856 he left and became a teacher of mathematics but returned to his studies in 1858 when he entered Columbia College in New York City. The College was to become Columbia University in 1912. Van Amringe received his A.B. in 1860 and his A.M. in 1863.

Van Am, as he was known, spent his entire career at Columbia. He was professor of mathematics in the School of Mines from 1865 until 1873 when he was appointed professor of mathematics in the School of Arts. He was head of mathematics from 1892 until he retired in 1910.

Amringe was a good teacher of mathematics, Thomas writes:

... probably no other teacher of his day was so loved and revered...

but he was not a research mathematician of any quality. He did not publish any research papers on mathematics but he is important in his role in the founding of the New York Mathematical Society which quickly changed its name to the American Mathematical Society . He was the first president of the Society from 1888 to 1890. At the first meeting after his term as president had ended, on 5 December 1890, Van Amringe proposed that the Society should publish a Bulletin.

Burgess describes Van Amringe in colourful terms:

He was ... the ideal college patriot, and consequently the idol of the students and alumni of the college, although he was quite a disciplinarian in the classroom. ... He was always having some accident, such as breaking an arm or a leg. ... he was a great smoker and frequenter of clubs. He was also something of a politician .. he was a good, staunch, reliable friend and very agreeable in social intercourse. No one could know the man and not love him.

As Archibald writes about the American Mathematical Society in :

... it was only natural that one of his prominence, occupying the position that he did, should have become our Societies first president.

Source:School of Mathematics and Statistics University of St Andrews, Scotland