I was going through a stack of math books in Curt Michel’s office today when I came across an old one (published in 1930) that brought me up short:
I couldn’t place it right away but I knew it meant something.
After thinking about this all morning I headed over to the Woodson after lunch to see if I could figure it out. For once, this proved to be fairly easy, requiring only a peek into the info files to get started. William C. Graustein was one of the earliest faculty members at Rice, arriving to teach math in 1914 after earning his doctorate at the University of Bonn. (He was recruited, by the way, by his friend Griffith Evans.)
Graustein left Rice in 1918 to enter military service in World War I and never returned. He spent the rest of his career at Harvard, his alma mater, but died relatively young in an auto accident in 1941. He seemed to have been genuinely popular with the students while he was here as these two short pieces in the Thresher attest:
A very nice memorial piece about Graustein’s life and work, including his time at Rice, is here.
The unanswerable question I have is whether Curt knew about this connection or if he just had the book because at some point he’d needed it. Both options, it seems to me, are happy ones.
Bonus: I know this looks bad but we’re actually well on the road to recovery.