Professor Emeritus Reid Remembered for Being a Pedagogical Innovator

James Reid, professor of mathematics, emeritus, died Oct. 27. An authority on algebra, Reid joined the Wesleyan faculty in 1969 as associate professor, becoming professor of mathematics in 1971. Previously, he had held faculty positions at Syracuse University and Amherst College, and he also had served as a research associate at Yale University.

He obtained his PhD from the University of Washington, where he was an instructor. Reid published in scholarly journals throughout his career, presented numerous invited lectures, and was an adviser for 14 PhD students, 11 master’s degree students, and six undergraduate honors theses. Among his colleagues, he gained a reputation as a pedagogical innovator, and he offered the University’s first course in programming and computerized computation before Wesleyan had hired its first computer scientist. He was also the architect of the course “Introduction to Mathematical Thought: from the Discrete to the Continuous,” a popular First-Year Initiative class.

“Jim was a gifted mathematician who taught courses at all levels, ranging from a ‘Teaching of Math’ course in the former Educational Studies Program to introductory calculus to graduate level courses. His kindness and gentle demeanor won him the admiration of colleagues and affection from students during his long and productive career,” said Ruth Striegel Weissman, provost and vice president for academic affairs, the Walter A. Crowell University Professor of the Social Sciences, professor of psychology.

Reid retired in 2001, but continued to teach one or two courses at Wesleyan every spring, including last semester.

He is survived by his wife, Nancy, and three children–James Jr., Margaret, and Gerald ’91–and five grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are pending.