A Legacy of Academic Enrichment

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Robert Whitten

Robert Whitton’s passion continues through new mentoring fund.

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By Danielle Strickland

Longtime Visiting Associate Professor of Mathematics Robert Whitton’s 67 years touched countless lives at Davidson and beyond. He formed close, lasting, and meaningful relationships with family members, friends, students, colleagues, and community members. Through his passions for literature, fishing, music—you name it—Whitton made connections that shaped lives for the better.

In November 2011, Whitton died of injuries suffered after being struck by a car in a crosswalk on Concord Road in Davidson. At that moment, part of the heart of Davidson was gone, but only in the physical sense. His devotion and his deep love and admiration for his work and his students live on every day at Davidson College.

One life he touched was that of Ian Nelson ’02 of Asheville, N.C. With credit given to Whitton’s strong influence in his life, Nelson became a high school math teacher.

“Doc Whitton was an inspiration to me and many others, but he was even more than that,” said Nelson. “He was a savior to those who were math-phobic, he could coax a smile out of anyone, and he was a refreshingly playful and sincere presence. For me, not only did he influence what I chose to do, but more importantly, he had a great influence on how I approach my profession—and life for that matter. I do my best to emulate Dr. Whitton every day. As I work with students, I try to mimic his genuine enthusiasm for mathematics and his commitment to treating students as human beings first and potential mathematical scholars second.”

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“He found myriad ways of enriching the lives of those around him, people of every condition and calling in this world.”

— John W. Kuykendall,
President Emeritus
of Davidson College
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To continue his legacy at Davidson College, the Robert C. Whitton Mentoring Fund was created. This fund is intended to create opportunities for professors and students to collaborate and form lasting bonds—the part of his job he found most rewarding. Mentors and students will work together to submit applications for funding consideration, and grants will be available for individual projects or broader class efforts. In order to fully recognize Whitton’s varied interests, funding will be available for projects taking place in and out of the classroom. Through collaboration and partnerships, this fund will be a catalyst for academic enrichment and strengthened relationships across campus.

To date, gifts to the Robert C. Whitton Mentoring Fund total more than $60,000. As fundraising continues, alumni and friends are encouraged to consider how they might honor one of Davidson’s most treasured educators. Gifts may be made online at www.davidson.edu/giving. Questions may be directed to Katharine Atkins ’05 in the Annual Fund at kaatkins@davidson.edu or 704-894-3098.

Photo Credit: Bill Giduz

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