The Linn Smith Prize for Excellence in Mathematics

History of the Linn Smith Prize

(photograph of Linn Smith)

Larned Linn Smith (known as Linn Smith) was born in Sioux City, Iowa, on October 17, 1899, to Effie and Elias E. Smith. He graduated from Sioux City High School in June, 1916, and was accepted to Grinnell College, which he attended from 1916 to 1920.

At Grinnell, Linn Smith was a scholarship holder and a Phi Beta Kappa graduate with a major in mathematics and a minor in physics. Debate was a strong interest of his both at Grinnell and in high school. At Grinnell, he was Secretary of the Debating Union and tied for second in the Hill Contest in Extemporaneous Speaking. He was also on the staff of the 1920 Cyclone (Grinnell College's yearbook) and a sergeant in Grinnell College's Student's Army Training Corps. (The photo above shows him in his military uniform.)

Particularly remarkable is the fact that Linn Smith published a mathematics paper while still an undergraduate. A Construction of the Regular Polygon of Seventeen Sides appeared in the July-September, 1920, issue of the American Mathematical Monthly (volume 27, pages 322-323). (The figure below is taken from this article.)

(diagram of the geometrical construction)

After Grinnell, Linn Smith went to Harvard University on a Charles Elliott Perkins scholarship for graduate study in mathematics. However, he completed only one year of graduate study; his untimely death on August 9, 1921, cut short a promising career. He was spending the summer of 1921 in Peterboro, New Hampshire, watching over the two young sons on Mr. and Mrs. Edward Burling. Edward Burling Jr. recalls him as an unusually attractive young man. He also remembers the day: Linn was swimming around the boat ... Suddenly I noticed that Linn was no longer in sight. ... I called out in terror. The official cause of death was listed as heart failure, not drowning. A sister, Genevieve (Mrs. Radford Dove), recalls those hot August days at the time of their brother's enormous funeral and lines of flower cars, reporters, etc.

The Linn Smith prize for Excellence in Mathematics was first awarded in 1924, although the original name of the award was the Linn Smith Scholarship for Excellency in Mathematical Study. College records indicate that the prize was established by an anonymous gift of $1000, but Edward Burling Jr. remembers his father making the gift: Dad would whip off another anonymous gift to Grinnell at the drop of a hat. A much larger contribution from Mr. Burling went for Burling Library.

Recipients of the Linn Smith Prize

Notes: The award was called a scholarship, not a prize, until 1947. Before the change, the scholarship was announced in the graduation program and applied in the following year, which was normally the student's senior year. For many years after the change, the award continued to be announced before the recipient's senior year, a practice that ended in 1961. So the fact that a year of graduation is not indicated from 1961 on simply means that all these recipients were awarded the prize at the time of their graduation. A question mark after a student's name indicates that the record of the award that year may be unreliable.

1924: John Stehn 1925
1925: Harriet Allen 1926
1926: Everett Roy Tarvin 1927
1927: Everett Roy Tarvin 1927 (?)
1928: Priscilla Lieberknecht 1929
1929: Donald Prentiss Jones 1930 and John Edward Perry 1930
1930: Carroll Martin Crownsea 1931
1931: David Merrill Bridgham 1932
1932: Charles Edwin Bures 1933
1933: Ora Lucy Wheeler 1934
1934: Joseph Conard 1935
1935: Randolph Carlson 1936
1936: Robertson Gannaway 1937 and Berger Graves 1937
1937: Fred Christopher Eisen 1938
1938: Paul M. Beck 1939 and Frederick Albert Manny 1939
1939: George Julius Finck 1940
1940: Carolyn Crandall 1941
1941: Charles Philip Plum 1942
1942: Wilma Lois Schallau 1943
1943: Donald Sterling Noyce 1944
1944: Gerry Ross 1945
1945: Marilyn Marie Herselius 1947
1946: Lee Maria Kleiss 1947 (?) and Margaret Ruth Tergillus 1947 (?)
1947: Scott Crom 1948
1948: Austin Robert Brown, Jr. 1949
1949: Jack Sheriff 1950
1950: Larry Dutton 1951 and Alex Elwyn 1951
1951: Kathryn Jantzen 1952
1952: David Bowersox 1953
1953: William Hamilton 1955 and George Simon 1955
1954: Charles Cook 1956
1955: Samuel Im 1957
1956: John Chase 1957 and George Sullivan 1957
1957: Richard Holmes 1958
1958: Ellen B. Blaser 1959 and David G. Marker 1959
1959: Bruce Thomas 1960
1960: David Manley 1961
1961: Richard Royal Fisher and Phyllis Noreen Rogers
1962: David Alexander McBlain
1963: Mary Karen Hillix
1964: James Edward Clapp and David Bruce Patterson
1965: (no award)
1966: Mary Beth Bridgham
1967: Edward Fred Schmeichel
1968: Robert Mandels Katz and Paul Richard Tice
1969: Clifford Arnold Frohlich and Roy Wyatt Pengra
1970: Daniel Eugene Frohardt
1971: Susan Carol Seeder
1972: (no award)
1973: Jay Roger Southard
1974: Robert S. Rumley
1975: Mark S. Ashbaugh and James P. Fernow
1976: Paul E. Kennedy
1977: Dale E. Worley
1978: Guy T. Blaylock and Carl John Oppedahl
1979: Carolyn B. Mow and Genevieve B. Orr
1980: Nathaniel Solomon Borenstein and Terry M. Grant
1981: David M. Perkinson
1982: David A. Strickler
1983: Kevin J. Lang and Matthew D. Smith
1984: Janet Lynn Wilson
1985: Brenda L. Johnston
1986: Kevin M. Manbeck
1987: Albert J. Goodman
1988: John Charles Roth and Wanda B. Upole
1989: Apryl A. Henry and Peter Gavin LaRose
1990: Julia A. Janik
1991: Nathan W. Root
1992: Kristine L. Hauser
1993: Siddhartha Agarwal, Christopher A. Jepsen, and Kristopher R. Tapp
1994: Stephen T. Ahearn, James A. Mills, and Vikram Subramaniam
1995: Jennifer D. Wagner
1996: Karen T. Ball
1997: Chelsea Elisabeth Smock
1998: Rebecca A. Schuller
1999: Catherine M. Williams
2000: Wei Zhao
2001: Oleksiy Sergiyov Andriychenko, Rachel Marie Heck, Dmitry Eugenievich Krivin, and Dolph James Robb
2002: Jared R. Corduan and Emily Laura Resseger
2003: Logan M. Axon, Ming Gu, and Rajendra Jarga Magar
2004: Matthew L. Bond, Ananta Nath Tiwari, and Jonathan L. Wellons
2005: Christine Constance Bormann Oehlert and Zelealem Belaineh Yilma
2006: Douglas Christopher Babcock
2007: Stephanie Daniel Fried and Norman Lewis Perlmutter
2008: William Nelson Boney, Katrina Michelle Honigs, and Rolf William Hoyer
2009: Henry Thomas Reich, Scott Steven Slinker, and Buchan Xue
2010: Samuel Eli Calisch, Robert Clement Zyskowski
2011: Benjamin Carl Greenberg

This document is available on the World Wide Web as

http://www.math.grinnell.edu/Linn-Smith-Prize.xhtml