Paul E. Pfeiffer, Professor Emeritus of Computational and Applied Mathematics, passed away peacefully on October 7, at the age of 95. Paul Pfeiffer joined Rice as an undergraduate in 1934. He received his BS and MS in Electrical Engineering at Rice in 1938 and 1948, respectively, and his Ph.D. in Mathematics from Rice in 1952. In between, Paul earned a Bachelor of Divinity from the Perkins School of Theology at SMU in 1943. Paul was on the Rice faculty from 1947 until 1998, first as an instructor and, after receiving his PhD, as an assistant, then an associate, and since 1959, as a full professor.
Paul Pfeiffer has influenced Rice's development in many substantial ways. His positions at Rice included: Chairman of the Department of Electrical Engineering 1960-1963, Chairman of the Department of Mathematical Sciences 1974-1975, interim master of both Wiess College and Brown College, and Dean of Students 1965-1969. The pdf copy of his 2003 Curriculum Vitae contains a list of all his positions.
Perhaps Paul Pfeiffer's greatest impact on Rice arises from his instrumental role in forming the Department of Mathematical Sciences. He was the chairman of the Committee on Applied Mathematics & Systems Research 1965-1969. In this role, in May 1965, Paul wrote a memo, which included the proposal, "That a Department of Applied Mathematical Sciences be established." As a result, the Department of Mathematical Sciences began operations July 1, 1968. The Department of Computer Science, which opened in the fall of 1985, grew out of the Department of Mathematical Sciences, as did the Department of Statistics, which was formed in 1987. In the fall of 1992, the Department of Mathematical Sciences was renamed Computational and Applied Mathematics Department to better reflect its mission. Paul summarized the history of the department in this speech at the 30th Anniversary of the Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics.
At Rice, Paul Pfeiffer has taught many undergraduate and graduate students and touched their lives. However, Paul Pfeiffer's teaching extended far beyond the hedges. His books have been used by students world-wide.
In 1991, the Paul Pfeiffer Instructorship Fund was created to support postdoctoral instructors in the Departments of Computational and Applied Mathematics and Statistics.
Paul was a beloved colleague, mentor, teacher, and friend.