History of Mathematics at GVSU
Mathematics Major - First Three Years

Phone: 616-331-2041
Ted Sundstrom

Department of Mathematics
Grand Valley State University
Allendale, MI 49401
The Mathematics Major During the First Three Years at Grand Valley
Grand Valley State College opened its doors to students in September 1963. During the 1963-64 academic year, only one mathematics course was taught, which was Mathematics 1 – Introduction to College Mathematics. In fact, during that first academic year, only courses that were part of so-called Foundation Program were taught. The Foundation Program was a set of nine courses that all students were required to take. The Foundation was considered by its designers as a centerpiece for a public, liberal arts college. (The 1963-64 catalog indicated that a Calculus and Analytic Geometry course would be offered in 1963-64 for those students who were granted an exemption from the mathematics foundation course, but it appears that it was never offered.) After completing their first year in the Foundations Program, students would then begin their major field of study.
The plan was that the various majors would be developed by the faculty members during the first year and courses in the major would be offered beginning in the second year. Dr. Marvin De Vries taught Mathematics 1 in 1963-64. He was one of the original 15 faculty members at Grand Valley and started his career at Grand Valley as an Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Economics. He was, however, an economist and so the original faculty did not have a mathematician. So while the curriculum was being developed for many majors, there was little work at developing the mathematics curriculum during the first year. Consequently, there were no descriptions of mathematics courses in the 1964-65 catalog except for the mathematics course in the Foundation Program. However, the following was given as the requirements for a major in mathematics.
The major program in Mathematics will involve completion of a selection of the following courses:
201, 202, 203. Analytical Geometry and Calculus, I, II, and III
310, 311, Statistics I and II
301, Differential Equations
320, Introduction to Modern Algebra
330, Introduction to Foundations of Mathematics
400, Non Euclidian Geometry and Related Topics
420, Advanced Calculus
430, Theory of Equations
These requirements for a mathematics major appear to have never been implemented since the requirements for a mathematics major were changed during the 1964 – 65 academic year. Grand Valley hired two mathematics faculty members for the 1964-65 academic year: Dr. Dan Clock and Prof. Don Vander Jagt. (Prof. Vander Jagt completed his Ph.D. while at Grand Valley in 1973 from Western Michigan University.) The mathematics major, the calculus sequence, and service courses in mathematics were developed during the second year by Profs. Clock and Vander Jagt. They set the following requirements for a mathematics major and these first appeared in the 1965 – 66 catalog.
Mathematics Major (1965 – 66 Catalog)
A student majoring in mathematics is required to take at least 45 hours in mathematics, exclusive of courses 101 (Introduction to College Mathematics) and 121 (Algebra and Trigonometry). The major pro­gram is to be planned with the approval of a faculty adviser. The student must complete
201. Calculus and Analytic Geometry I
202. Calculus and Analytic Geometry II
203. Calculus and Analytic Geometry III
421. Abstract Algebra I
The student must also complete at least one of the following two-quarter sequences:
341 – 342. Geometry I and Geometry II
401 – 441. Real Variables and Topology
421 – 422. Abstract Algebra I and Abstract Algebra II
Each student must also participate in the mathematics colloquium during his senior year and must complete Physics 230 – Principles of Physics and History of Science 480 – History of Mathematics and at least three additional courses from the following group:
Chemistry 302 – Physical Chemistry
Economics 290 – Introduction to Statistical Analysis
History of Science 301 – History of Ancient Science
History of Science 302 – History of Modern Science
Philosophy 202 – Elementary Logic
Physics 231 – Principles of Physics
Physics 330 – Intermediate Mechanics
Physics 340 – Intermediate Electricity and Magnetism
Physics 430 – Advanced Mechanics
Physics 440 – Advanced Electricity and Magnetism
Although the terms were not used at that time, this set the basic format for the mathematics major as consisting of a set of core courses required by all majors, a set of elective courses in the major, and a set of cognate courses, which are courses outside of mathematics but in areas related to mathematics or in which mathematics is used.
Elementary and Secondary Certification
At this time, there were no emphases within the major. All mathematics majors were to complete these requirements, including those seeking elementary or secondary teaching certification.
For elementary certification, a student was required to:
  • Complete the requirements for graduation including a major;
  • Complete the following courses (35 credits in the quarter system):
PSY 201 – Introduction to Psychology
PSY 301 – Human Growth and Development
ED 303 – Teacher Aid Program
ED 304 – Methods Seminar
ED 403 – Practice Teaching, and
ED 408 – Contemporary Issues in Education
  • A planned Distribution Program including an art course, at least one sophomore or junior course in English, HST 201 – The Historian and American History, two courses in a modern language in addition to the two courses in the Foundation Program, MUS 301 – Historical Survey of Music, MTH 221 – The Real Number System, and one additional Natural Science elective.
For secondary certification, a student was required to:
  • Complete the requirements for graduation including a major;
  • A minor program;
  • Complete the following courses (35 credits in the quarter system):
PSY 201 – Introduction to Psychology
PSY 301 – Human Growth and Development
ED 305 – Teacher Aid Program
ED 306 – Methods Seminar
ED 405 – Practice Teaching, and
ED 408 – Contemporary Issues in Education
  Last Modified Date: November 26, 2007
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