Harold Eichholz Wolfe


Frederic Bachman Lieber Memorial Award (1958)
Indiana University Bloomington
College of Arts and Sciences
Department of Mathematics


Harold Eichholz Wolfe was born in North Manchester, Indiana on June 6, 1891, the son of Albertus C. and Nellie Eichholz Wolfe. He was both an admirable product of and a devoted servant to Indiana University. He received his A.B. with High Distinction in 1913 and an A.M. in 1914. After two years as an instructor at the University of South Dakota, he returned to Indiana University to obtain his Ph.D. in 1918. He then entered officer's training at Camp Zachary Taylor, where he was also an instructor. In December of that year he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, Artillery, O.R.C.

In 1919 Harold Wolfe began his long career as a teacher of mathematics at Indiana University. By 1929 he had risen to the rank of Associate Professor. He was Acting Chairman of the Mathematics Department during the 1953-54 academic year. In 1955, during a period of great turmoil, he became Chairman of the department and managed to hold its remnants together until its reorganization in 1957. He was then promoted to Professor. In 1961 he retired as Professor Emeritus of Mathematics. For most of the subsequent period, until his death on May 8, 1986, he appeared regularly in Swain Hall to work in his office.

Harold Wolfe's field of research was geometry and he published a widely used textbook on non-Euclidean geometry. But his true mission and great love was the teaching of mathematics, for which he had unusual talent. He polished this gift to a state of brilliance that has not been matched since his retirement. In recognition of this achievement, he was awarded the Frederic Bachman Lieber Memorial Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1958. His influence extended well beyond the student body in Bloomington, for he made weekly trips to Indianapolis over a period of 35 years in order to conduct classes on that campus. He reached still others by teaching mathematics by correspondence for Indiana University. He was a charter member of the Mathematical Association of America; and he also belonged to the American Mathematical Society, the American Association of University Professors, the Indiana Academy of Science, Phi Beta Kappa, and Sigma Xi.

The latter half of Harold Wolfe's tenure at Indiana University coincided with the period of tremendous expansion of this institution and its accompanying change of academic climate. Today's milieu does not encourage the single-minded dedication to teaching so admirably demonstrated by his example. The Mathematics Department will not see the likes of Harold Wolfe again.