Furman University
Greenville, South Carolina 29613

The key elements of Furman's strong mathematics program are a faculty committed to excellence in teaching, outstanding rapport between faculty and students, and a well-rounded curriculum that provides excellent preparation for advanced study and for the growing opportunities available to graduates with a strong quantitative background.

And there is much more. Because it requires its faculty to participate in a continuing program of professional development, the mathematics department is composed of teachers who are active professionally and aware of the latest advances in the field. The department is also firmly committed to the idea of a liberal arts education and the integral part played by mathematics in such a program.

At Furman all classes are taught by professors, and because most classes are small -- lower-level classes average 25 students, upper-level classes 15 students -- students get the individual attention they deserve. Faculty members are known for their openness and collegiality, and they are deeply committed to working with students in a cooperative approach to mathematics.

Majoring in Mathematics
Your experiences in our department --- the courses, the close interaction with faculty and fellow students, and the numerous additional academic and social opportunities --- will enrich your education and prepare you for a fulfilling future.

Studying mathematics will enhance and enrich your liberal arts experiences at Furman. There are a number of courses and topics from which you can choose, and your work in these courses will help develop your abstract thinking skills, your problem solving strategies, and your ability to communicate effectively (both in your writing and in your speaking).

Along with a pure mathematics major, our department also offers joint majors with the Department of Economics and Business Administration and the Department of Computer Science. You will discover that no matter how your plans for the future evolve, majoring in mathematics can provide wonderful preparation.

There are many outside-of-class opportunities for development and growth. Through Furman Advantage or the National Science Foundation's Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, you can conduct mathematical research under the guidance of faculty members either at Furman or at other institutions. Our department has experienced unusual success in placing students in the prestigious Budapest Semesters in Mathematics.

You will benefit from the chance to meet and interact with internationally known scholars through the Donald H. Clanton Visiting Mathematician Series. The program, established in memory of a former professor of mathematics, brings a prominent mathematician to campus each year for lectures and discussions with faculty and students.

Other opportunities include participation in our bi-weekly colloquium series, tutoring in our Mathematics Resource Center, and assisting with the annual Wylie Mathematics Tournament for high school students. You will also enjoy annual events such as our fall and spring picnics, our "Pizza Party and Book Giveaway," and various other faculty/student recreational activities.

Looking to Your Future

An undergraduate major in mathematics is a good foundation for almost any career. The ability to think analytically, to solve problems and to communicate clearly and precisely are skills that will be acquired in a mathematics major. They are often listed on a “should have” list by employers who are advertising a position that otherwise does not appear to be mathematically related. In addition, mathematics is more important to our society, culture and economy than at any time in history. Physics and engineering have always depended on many of the tools of continuous mathematics. But with recent advances, researchers in biology and medicine are lost without mathematical modeling. Sophisticated instruments used in medical diagnosis are direct applications of inverse imaging techniques. Developers of computer systems and cryptosystems use theoretical results from graph theory and number theory. Wall Street firms are hiring graduates of mathematical finance programs. Many national and international firms use combinatorial optimization to make their businesses more efficient. Weather forecasters use highly complex mathematical models to predict hurricanes and future weather patterns. The opportunities for an individual with a solid background in mathematics are almost limitless.

In recent years Furman has produced mathematics majors who have gone on to successful careers as actuaries, statisticians, economists, lawyers, physicians, and industrial engineers. A sampling of the firms employing these graduates include Intel, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the United States Census Bureau, the CIA, the Rand Corporation, Oak Ridge National Lab, United Parcel Service and IBM. Furman mathematics majors have secured graduate assistantships at universities around the country including Duke, Tennessee, Harvard, Emory, Vanderbilt, University of California – Berkeley, Cornell, Rice, Georgia Tech and Yale. Whether you are interested in a legal, medical or business career or in one that is strictly mathematical in nature, a mathematics major at Furman provides excellent preparation.

Richard W. Riley Hall

Richard W. Riley Hall is the home for the departments of mathematics and computer science.

Among the many features of the building is a computer laboratory with workstations designed specifically for the study of mathematics. Riley Hall also has a mathematics learning resource center where students receive help in their studies or in finding materials used in certain courses. Mathematics majors are employed as assistants in the resource center, in the computer laboratory, and in help sessions for calculus students.

In the department's office suite, a combination lounge and reading room offers a relaxing place for students to visit with each other or with faculty, read various mathematics-related publications, and find information on career opportunities or graduate programs.


The Wylie Scholarship Program is a major program of financial aid for students with a strong interest and ability in mathematics. The endowment was established by Dr. C. Ray Wylie, a former professor of mathematics, and his wife, and has supported many excellent students.

Wylie scholarships are awarded primarily to entering freshmen who plan to major in mathematics. The scholarships are renewable each year, based on completion of specific academic requirements and on participation in Furman's mathematics program. Application requirements include, among other items, letters of recommendation, an essay on the applicant's interest in mathematics, and application for admission to Furman.

Other scholarships, such as the Blackwell and McLane scholarships, are available for upper-level students.

For more information on the Wylie program or other scholarships in mathematics, contact the department or the Office of Financial Aid at Furman, or visit our Scholarship Information web page.

Mathematics Faculty
Paul M. Cook II, Professor and Chair.
B.S., M.S., University of Mississippi; Ph.D., Florida State University.
Commutative algebra, algorithmic graph theory
Robert D. Fray, Professor.
B.S., Roanoke College; Ph.D., Duke University.
Combinatorial analysis, statistics, mathematical models
  John M. Harris, Associate Professor.
B.S., Furman University; M.S., Ph.D., Emory University.
Graph theory
Kevin R. Hutson, Assistant Professor.
B.A., Hendrix College; M.S., Ph.D., Clemson University.
Graph theory, combinatorics, operations research
Thomas M. Lewis, Professor.
B.A., Marquette University; Ph.D., University of Wisconsin.
David K. Penniston, Associate Professor.
B.S., M.S., University of Michigan; Ph.D., University of Georgia.
Arithmetic geometry, number theory, partitions
John T. Poole, Professor.
B.S., University of North Carolina; M.A., Ph.D., University of Maryland.
Analysis, linear algebra
Douglas F. Rall, Professor.
B.A., M.S., Ph.D., University of Iowa.
Graph theory, combinatorics, ring theory
Nancy L. Shell, Professor.
B.S., Furman University; M.S., Ph.D., University of Virginia.
Functional analysis, complex analysis, mathematics education
Wade Hampton Sherard III, Professor.
B.S., The Citadel; M.A., University of South Carolina;
Ph.D., George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University.
Mathematics education
Daniel C. Sloughter, Professor.
B.A., Gonzaga University; A.M., Ph.D., Dartmouth College.
Probability, statistics, analysis
Mark R. Woodard, Professor.
B.S., Indiana University of Pennsylvania; M.A., Ph.D., Indiana University.

Department of Mathematics home page