Pictured, Walt Patterson, right, and his wife Susan, both retired professors of mathematics, have been committed supporters of Lander University and its students.
There are probably few people who understand the importance of quality math education better than Walt and Susan Patterson of Greenwood.
Now retired, the husband-and-wife mathematicians both spent years in the classroom, using their enthusiasm for math to inspire students to develop their own passion for the "Queen of the Sciences."
"A solid education in math is important," said Walt Patterson, "because math is the foundation for all science. Some might think math is difficult, but if you understand the basics, math becomes quite easy."
Walt is a retired professor of mathematics at Lander University, where he also served as the developer of the university's dual degree engineering program with Clemson University and was the first director of the Honors International Program.
He joined Lander in 1980 following a 26-year career as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force. A West Point graduate, he earned master's and Ph.D. degrees in mathematics from Syracuse University.
Susan received a degree in mathematics from Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts, followed by a master's degree in math from Clemson. She was on the faculty at Cambridge Academy in Greenwood for 10 years and later was an assistant professor of mathematics at Erskine College in Due West for nine years. She also occasionally taught math classes at Lander.
While their careers focused on shaping the minds of budding mathematicians, their dedication to academics has extended far beyond the classroom walls, and the Pattersons have been faithful financial supporters of Lander and its students.
In 1990, Walt established a math and computer sciences endowment at the university, and in 2007, the Pattersons created The Walt and Susan Patterson Prize, an annual cash award that assists Lander and other students in attending the annual meeting of the Southeastern Section of the Mathematical Association of America.
The two are also members of the Samuel Lander Society, an organization reserved for those who provide for Lander's future through wills, life insurance and other planned gifts.
When Walt recalls his 20 years at Lander, he said many fond memories of faculty, staff and students come to mind. Giving back, he said, is a way to show appreciation for those many wonderful experiences.
"As former teachers, we realize the value in supporting educational institutions, whether it's through scholarships, endowments or planned gifts," Walt said. "It's important that students have access to scholarships and grants so that they can finance their college education without having to borrow money and become overloaded with debt."
Susan said the couple hopes their contributions will lead to the creation of math scholarships at Lander, which could possibly help produce more math teachers.
"There is a desperate need today for math teachers, and we would love to see more math majors go on to teach," she said. "Good math teachers can make a positive impact in the lives of many students."
For information about giving opportunities at Lander, including the Samuel Lander Society, contact the Office of University Advancement at 864-388-8350, visit Lander's Web site at www.lander.edu, or e-mail Adam Taylor, vice president for University Advancement and executive director of The Lander Foundation, at firstname.lastname@example.org.