Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Library and Information Services is now home to an expansive collection of mathematics books that have been donated by the institution’s longest-serving president, Earl Lazerson, who led the university from 1979-1993.
The President Earl Lazerson Collection includes more than 2,000 books. It comprises mathematics focused materials that Lazerson collected for more than 65 years. They are catalogued and available online, and can also be accessed through the Eugene B. Redmond Collection and Learning Center in SIUE’s Lovejoy Library.
“The President Earl Lazerson Collection is a one-of-a-kind concentration on mathematical studies over time, which emanates from one of the major research and educational goals of SIUE’s undergraduate curriculum,” said LIS Dean Regina McBride, PhD. “It’s important to have special collections accessible to the campus community. The use of these collections provides an active learning environment for educating students on research methods utilizing primary sources.”
“The collection will increase students’ and researchers’ academic knowledge by allowing them to gain a more comprehensive spectrum of varied topical areas within the discipline,” McBride added.
Lazerson’s interest in mathematics began in high school, due, in part, to an inspirational teacher. He went on to fill that role for others, achieving an impactful career as a mathematics instructor and institutional leader. Throughout, he remained steadfast to the underlying purpose of a higher education institution: student success.
“I was honored to have been selected for the position of president, and I particularly enjoyed my interaction with students,” Lazerson said. “That’s what the university is really for, to provide the best education it can to the students who pursue their studies there.”
The special collection he built over the course of his professional career will now serve as a valuable academic resource for students and faculty.
“These are intended for anyone with an interest in mathematics, mathematical physics and other topics covered within the collection,” Lazerson added. “I didn’t consciously think about collecting the books for an end purpose, but as I took different courses and started thinking about different aspects of mathematics, my interests changed through the years. I would read the literature, both books and journals, and eventually I ended up with a fairly large collection.”
During his tenure at SIUE, Lazerson was honored with the Teaching Excellence Award, the most prestigious teaching award for an SIUEfaculty member. Among his most memorable achievements as president were transitioning the SIUE campus from a quarter to a semester system and consolidating various schools into what is now known as the College of Arts and Sciences.
Additionally, he presided over the construction of several major buildings, including the Vadalabene Center, the Student Fitness Center, the dental clinic at the SIU School of Dental Medicine in Alton, the University’s first 500-student residence hall, and the Art and Design Building.