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Donors among us: Greg Fredricks and Roger Nelsen, Professors Emeriti of Mathematics

July 22, 2013

  • Greg Fredricks and Roger Nelsen

This story is the third in a series of profiles about Lewis & Clark community members who volunteer their time or donate dollars to create a long-term positive impact. Read our first story about Daniel Blasher ’13 and Heidi Hu ’85, and our second story featuring Sean Hartfield J.D. ’01 .

It’s easier to navigate BoDine’s warren of rooms and labs than it is to get Greg Fredricks and Roger Nelsen to talk about themselves. Combined, the two professors emeriti of mathematics have taught at Lewis & Clark more than 60 years, and both would rather talk about what they’ve always done: put students first.

“Working with students for four years is where the fun is,” says Nelsen, who began teaching at the college in 1969. “The reward is watching how they take what they’ve learned and apply it. You can do anything with math. Our alumni are solving complex problems in business, insurance, stock markets, health care—you name it.”

Fredricks, hired by Nelsen in 1985, found great satisfaction in pushing students to reach new heights. “My advanced calculus course here was tough. Alumni return and tell me it was harder than their grad school analysis class.”

Through scholarships, both men will continue putting students first well into the future. After Greg’s daughter Christine, class of 1992, died in a small plane crash, he honored her and their mutual love for numbers by establishing an endowed scholarship. Students are already benefiting from the Christine Fredricks Smith Scholarship, the college’s newest in math, and Greg will increase its endowment through a bequest in his will.

Meanwhile Roger is challenging math graduates to join him in endowing additional scholarships. Confident that alumni will step up and make the numbers work, he looks forward to congratulating recipients when scholarships are funded. He also plans to make a legacy contribution through a bequest.

“These scholarships are not about us,” says Roger. “They’re about the students who benefit.” 

This content originally appeared in the fall 2012 issue of The Chronicle