David Crenshaw Barrow
Over the years, members of the Mathematics Department have played important roles in the development of the University, the state of Georgia, and the ever-evolving state of mathematics. Here, in our History Corner, Professor Emeritus Thomas Brahana has contributed a short piece about Professor David Crenshaw Barrow. (Professor Brahana’s complete History of Mathematics at the University of Georgia can be found at http://www.math.uga.edu/about_us/history.html)
David Crenshaw Barrow, Jr. first taught mathematics at the University of Georgia (then commonly referred to as the Franklin College) in 1878 and remained at UGA until 1925.
Barrow was educated at the University of Georgia and eventually became a popular Professor of Mathematics and Engineering. Research in mathematics did not become active in North America until the late 1880’s (and then only in isolated regions) so it is not surprising that there is little evidence of academic research carried out by Barrow. On the other hand, it is not incorrect to call him an applied mathematician (in an extended sense). He applied logical reasoning and wise predictive skills to problems of his time to provide Georgia with a higher education system of the highest quality.
After serving as department head and then dean under Chancellor Walter B. Hill, Barrow became chancellor (equivalent to the President of the University in modern times) in 1906 and continued in this position until 1925. During his tenure as chancellor student enrollment quadrupled, and the schools of Forestry, Education, Graduate Studies, Commerce and Journalism were formed. Women were first admitted to the university in 1918.
The Barrow family is deeply embedded in Georgia history. David’s grandfather wintered with George Washington at Valley Forge. He later came south where he obtained extensive plantations. His father was a delegate to the Secession Convention, and a brother was killed in the Civil War. David was nine years old at the outbreak of the war in 1861. In 1865 a departing Union soldier gave him a decrepit horse which he nursed back to health. Later, along with his college friend Henry Grady, he became a spokesman for the New South, speaking throughout Georgia in favor of the abandonment of regional hostility.
Barrow died at his home in Athens in 1929. The David C. Barrow Chair of Mathematics is named in his honor.