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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
Posted: Jan 3, 2014 2:39 PM
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From THE UChicagoNews, Thursday, January 2, 2014. See
Paul J. Sally, Jr., influential mathematician and educator, 1933 - 2013

Services scheduled for Jan. 4 at St. Thomas the Apostle in Hyde Park

By Jann Ingmire

SIDEBAR PHOTO: Prof. Paul Sally, Jr. Photo by Jason Smith - See

Known for his contributions to the field of harmonic analysis and his
passionate commitment to teaching, Prof. Paul J. Sally, Jr. built a
legacy of love for mathematics at the University of Chicago for
nearly 50 years.

Professor Sally on Dec. 30, 2013. He was 80 years old.

Sally taught at the University since 1965 and served as chairman of
the mathematics department from 1977 to 1980. He was resident at the
Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., in 1967-68, 1971-72,
1981 and 1984. He produced notable research results on such topics as
SL(2), supercuspidal representations and Fourier transforms. His many
professional affiliations included service as chairman of the board
of trustees of the American Mathematical Society.

"Paul had a fierce belief in mathematics and in people," wrote
Professor Shmuel Weinberger, chair of mathematics, in a note to
faculty. "I will miss him deeply."

Sally's impact in the classroom was legendary. He produced 19 PhD
students and was director of Undergraduate Studies in the Mathematics
Department for decades. He pioneered outreach programs in mathematics
for elementary and secondary teachers and students. From 1983 to
1987, Sally served as the first director of the University of Chicago
School Mathematics Project, home of the nation's most widely used
university-developed mathematics curriculum. In 1992, he founded
Seminars for Elementary Specialists and Mathematics Educators
(SESAME), a first-of-its-kind program for elementary school teachers
from Chicago Public Schools.
'A force of nature'

Diane Herrmann, the co-director of Undergraduate Studies in
Mathematics and a Senior Lecturer, described Sally as "a force of
nature." Herrmann worked with Sally as a teacher, mentor and then as
a colleague for the past 30 years.

"He was passionately interested in mathematical education at all
levels," said Herrmann, who with Sally co-founded the Young Scholars
Program, a groundbreaking enrichment program for mathematically
talented seventh through 12th graders.

One student who benefitted from the Young Scholars Program starting
in seventh grade was Maryanthe Malliaris, who is now an assistant
professor in UChicago's department of mathematics. She recalled the
experience as "exhilarating" and "decisive for my future in

"He had an incredible psychological astuteness, and a forceful
clarity," Malliaris wrote in an email. "He devoted a great deal of
his time to creating possibilities for others. He concerned himself
with the field as a whole. He would be there on Saturdays, on
evenings, in the summer. His door was always open. He would show by
example what it is to be a great human being."

David Vogan, AB, SM, '74, another former student of Sally's, went on
to be a Professor of Mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology and president of the American Mathematical Society.

"What distinguished Paul Sally was not only his passion for
mathematics, but also his love and care for everyone studying
mathematics," Vogan said. "He had an appreciation for all the
different levels of mathematics. He was a remarkable individual who
seemed to have an unlimited supply of energy."

Sally's motto for SESAME reflected one of his core beliefs: "To teach
real mathematics, you better know some." Aspiring teachers who took
Sally's courses such as Elements of Math Instruction, a graduate
class in UChicago's Urban Teacher Education Program, found that he
expected them to understand concepts ranging from elementary-level to
graduate-level math.

"He overcame tremendous obstacles to provide education and outreach
at the University, in the city of Chicago and nationally" said Robert
Fefferman, the Max Mason Distinguished Service Professor in
Mathematics. "He lost both legs and lost his eyesight to childhood
diabetes and it did not stop him at all."

Type 1 diabetes affected Sally since he was a teenager, resulting in
the loss of both legs and one eye; degeneration in the other eye
meant that he was legally blind. Students affectionately nicknamed
him the "Math Pirate" or "Professor Pirate" for the unmistakable
black eye patch that he wore. Speaking with the University of Chicago
Magazine in 2008, he said his true love had been the classroom since
he walked into a class of high school seniors in 1954, at the age of

"This is just where I belong. I just have this incredible desire to
teach," he told the magazine.

David Sally, one of Paul Sally's three sons, said his legacy will be
felt in ways large and small.

"The family is gratified to hear words of condolence from students,
teachers and colleagues to let us know how much our father meant to
the University, to Chicago, and to so many people around the world,"
he said. "Dad died on December 30. That's 12-30-2013, a numerical
anagram! He would have appreciated that."
Numerous honors include Quantrell

Sally was born in Boston on Jan. 29, 1933. He earned his B.S. and
M.A. degrees from Boston College and his Ph.D. from Brandeis
University. He was an instructor at Washington University before
coming to the University of Chicago in 1965.

Sally won many honors and awards for his teaching and educational
outreach, including the University's Llewellyn John and Harriet
Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching
in 1967. Part of the citation for the award reads: "His informal but
infectiously enthusiastic classroom manner has shown his students the
delights of a subject sometimes thought to be austere. Always
rigorous but never pompous, he leads his classes through difficult
problems by clear, careful steps."

Other awards include the Boston College Alumni Award for Excellence
in Education (1999); the American Mathematical Society Award for
Distinguished Teaching (2002); and the University of Chicago
Provost's Teaching Award (2005). In addition to his leadership at the
American Mathematical Society, Sally's professional service included
the U.S. Steering Committee for the Third International Mathematical
and Science Study.

Sally is survived by his wife, Judith, and his three sons, David,
Stephen, and Paul III, and their families.

Services will be held Saturday, Jan. 4 at St. Thomas the Apostle
Church in Hyde Park. A wake will be held from 10 to 11 a.m., with a
funeral mass at 11 a.m. A reception and luncheon will follow in the
Tea Room on the second floor of Eckhart Hall on the UChicago campus.
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244

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