Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Former U of M Provost Ralph Faudree Dies

Posted By on Wed, Jan 14, 2015 at 2:49 PM

Dr. Ralph Faudree
  • Dr. Ralph Faudree
Dr. Ralph Faudree, former provost of the University of Memphis, was found dead in the backyard of his East Memphis home Tuesday night.

Prior to his death, Faudree worked at the U of M for more than 40 years. He came to the university in 1971, initially as a faculty member in the Department of Mathematical Sciences.

In July 2001, Faudree became the U of M’s provost. He served in the position for more than a decade before stepping down in 2012. 

At the time of his death, Faudree was a math professor at the university.  

According to the Memphis Police Department, officers responded to a "DOA" call at 5370 Normandy on Tuesday, January 13th, at approximately 8:15 p.m.

Upon arrival, they located Faudree, 75, in the backyard with a gunshot wound. He was pronounced deceased on the scene. The gunshot wound was determined to be self-inflicted. 

The U of M’s interim provost Karen Weddle-West sent out an email this afternoon informing university staff, faculty and students of Faudree’s death. The message also highlighted his legacy at the U of M. It can be read below.

It is with great sadness we inform you that Dr. Ralph Faudree, former Provost, Professor of Mathematics, colleague, mentor and friend passed away yesterday, January 13, 2015. Information and details regarding arrangements will be shared when available.

Dr. Faudree had served the University since 1971, initially as a faculty member in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, retiring as Provost in 2012, and continuing to serve as an internationally renowned scholar and professor of Mathematics until the time of his death.

Dr. Faudree was appointed Provost of The University of Memphis by the Tennessee Board of Regents on July 2, 2001. A dedicated academician, Dr. Faudree accepted the position because he was committed to ensuring that the University continued to grow and prosper. Toward that end, he concentrated on enhancements to the teaching, research and community outreach programs that the University had developed. He was also committed to pursuing opportunities as they arose, ensuring that the University was responsive to the needs of the student body and the community it serves. Preceding his appointment as Provost, Dr. Faudree served as the University’s Interim President. Prior to that, he was the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. While Dean, he continued to teach, conduct research programs, direct graduate students and participate in professional meetings. His primary focus, however, was on the teaching, research and service mission of the College.

Throughout his administrative career, Dr. Faudree focused his efforts on:

  • aggressive recruitment and retention of high-quality faculty;
  • introduction of interdisciplinary programs;
  • development and implementation of rigorous research standards;
  • development of a comprehensive and demanding tenure and promotion methodology;
  • administration of a meaningful chair and faculty evaluation process.

He also fostered a number of special initiatives, including establishment of the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy, the Department of Earth Sciences, the Interdisciplinary Studies Center (consisting of Women's Studies, the Center for Research on Women, African and African-American Studies, and International Studies), the Undergraduate Student Services Center, and the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change.

Dr. Faudree studied at Purdue University, receiving a Ph.D. and a Master's Degree in Mathematics in 1964 and 1963 respectively. Before coming to the University of Memphis, Dr. Faudree taught at the University of California, Berkeley and at the University of Illinois. He arrived at The University of Memphis in 1971 and served as the Department’s Graduate Coordinator before becoming its chair in 1983. He was a co-recipient of the University’s Distinguished Research Award in 1978; the Superior Performance in Research Award in 1986, 1988-90 and 1992-93; the College of Arts and Science Meritorious Faculty Award in 1991; and the Board of Visitors' Eminent Faculty Award in 1994.

Throughout his academic career, Dr. Faudree maintained an active research schedule in the areas of graphical Ramsey theory and Hamiltonian theory of graphs. As a part of his research effort, Dr. Faudree served as a Visiting Professor at the Netherlands' University of Twente, the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, the University of Paris, the University of Singapore and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest. It is at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences that Dr. Faudree cemented his relationship with Dr. Paul Erdös, one of the 20th century’s most prolific and respected mathematicians. Their collaboration led to more than 45 articles in graph theory. Since Dr. Erdös’ death, Dr. Faudree continued the work they began together, collaborating with mathematicians in both Hungary and the United States. He also helped to perpetuate Dr. Erdös’ work by co-sponsoring the Erdös lecture series at the University of Memphis.

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