Robert C. Gunning

Robert C. Gunning, professor of mathematics, was born in Longmont, Colorado, in 1931. He is actually a sixth generation Coloradan, where his family lived long before Colorado became a state, and some of his New England ancestors date back to the Mayflower. He received his undergraduate degree in mathematics from the University of Colorado-Boulder in 1952, and went on to complete his graduate work and Ph.D. in mathematics at Princeton in 1955 under the guidance of Salomon Bochner.

Robert has been affiliated with the Department of Mathematics at Princeton for nearly his entire career. After a year as an NSF postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago, he joined the Princeton math department as a Higgins Lecturer in 1956. He went on to serve as an assistant professor, Sloan Fellow, and associate professor, before being appointed as a professor in 1966, the same year he married Wanda S. Holtzinger.

His excellence in undergraduate and graduate teaching culminated in the conferral of the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2003. While the colleagues and students who nominated him for the award praised his superb lecturing skills and profound insight into the subject matter, as one would expect, they also highlighted his sense of humor, math jokes, and positive disposition. One student in particular summarized Professor Gunning as “an inspirational combination of all the qualities that make up an excellent teacher.”

Robert has been a visiting professor at several other universities, including the University of California-Los Angeles; the University of Colorado; the University of Oxford; the University of São Paulo; and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Mathematische Institut.

In addition to his faculty appointments and teaching accomplish-ments, Robert has contributed extensive service to the University, and to the mathematical community as a whole. He served as the chair of the mathematics department from 1976–79, and chief marshal for University convocations for a decade before becoming dean of the faculty from 1989-1995. He was a member of the editorial board for Princeton University Press from 1969–73, and holds fellowships in the American Mathematical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Additionally, he co-chaired the AMS Summer Institute on Theta Functions (1987) and the AMS Summer Institute on Several Complex Variables (1974).

Robert has contributed greatly to the field of function theory of one and several variables, and is known for authoring many books in this area. Among other accomplishments, he introduced indigenous bundles, and found a solution to the Schottky problem in the theory of Riemann surfaces. He will transfer to emeritus status this year after more than six decades of tremendous contributions to Princeton’s mathematics department.

Annual Emeriti Booklet Excerpt: