CGU professorship immortalizes beloved math teacher

On Monday, Claremont Graduate University (CGU) announced “lead gifts in conjunction with several additional gifts” totaling over one-million dollars — had been secured to create the Ellis Cumberbatch Professorship. The professorship was named after the late CGU Institute of Mathematical Sciences professor and will “support a faculty position in mathematics in CGU’s Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMS),” in a news release.

During a celebration of Cumberbatch’s life on December 11, Daniel Pick — a 1995 alumnus of CGU with a M.S. in Mathematics — unveiled the effort to create and immortalize his late mentor with the professorship. In a statement, gifts and commitments exceeding $200,000 were each made by Pick, Haisheng “Shawn” Luo (Ph.D., Mathematics, ’95), and IMS Professor Allon Percus.

“Ellis was instrumental to the math program on our campus and throughout the Claremont Colleges,” CGU President Len Jessup said, adding “and I’m sincerely thankful to Dan [Pick] and to Shawn, Allon, and Ellis’s other supporters for kickstarting a special way to honor him in our community. A fund like this will become a true living legacy.” Jessup said the endowment will help support IMS faculty over the coming years.

Once it is officially established, the professorship will provide “annual financial assistance” to the faculty member who holds the professorship “with the goal of fully supporting a tenured position in the IMS,” the news release read. The professorship is projected to help cover costs including “salary and a stipend to support research, graduate assistantships, and other scholarly activities.”

Cumberbatch, a beloved member of CGU’s IMS family, sadly passed away on September 5, 2021 at the age of 87. According to an announcement from CGU upon his passing, Cumberbatch was described as a “pillar” since his arrival to Claremont back in 1981. Over the last 40 years, Cumberbatch was known to play an active role at CGU and was one who “sought to create a collegial, collaborative, and supportive atmosphere for the university’s math community.”

“He earned his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics at the University of Manchester in 1958. His dissertation foretold the design of an ocean-going ship hull that would allow it to travel in excess of 230 miles per hour. His mathematical contributions and research interests ranged from differential equations and fluid mechanics to semiconductors and industrial modeling,” CGU officials wrote back in September.

The late professor is credited with “significantly revitalizing the IMS and championing the collaborative spirit that has come to define the mathematics research community at the Claremont Colleges,” according to recent news announcing the professorship.

“Math in Claremont really is one community, and Ellis was instrumental in building that community into what it is today,” IMS professor Percus said.


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