Born: May 10, 1904, New Orleans, Louisiana
Died: June 1, 1989, Charlottesville, Virginia
Edward James McShane was a mathematics professor at the University of Virginia known for his research in pure and applied mathematics, interest in mathematics education, and service to mathematics.
As president, McShane conceived and appointed the Committee on the Undergraduate Program in Mathematics, which makes recommendations to guide mathematics departments in designing curricula for their undergraduate students. He stressed the importance of mathematical teaching and communication.
McShane studied mathematics and engineering at Tulane University, receiving a degree in each in 1925. He received a master's degree in mathematics from Tulane in 1927. In 1930, he completed his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, with his thesis supervised by G.A. Bliss, who was involved with the early years of the MAA.
At the University of Virginia, McShane published on the calculus of variations, stochastic calculus, theory of integration, and ballistics. He earned a reputation for "graciousness, kindness, and hospitality," according to his graduate student Victor Klee. McShane spent 1942-45 as head of the Ballistics Research Laboratory at the Aberdeen Proving Ground. During this time he coauthored Exterior Ballistics, which was considered a leading work in the field when it was published in 1953. The Fiftieth Anniversary Issue of the American Mathematical Monthly included his talk on "Trends in Analysis." McShane retired from the University of Virginia in 1974 but continued to publish.
McShane was president of the American Mathematical Society in 1959-60 and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He chaired the mathematics division of the National Research Council and served on the board of the National Science Foundation and on the Conference Board of Mathematical Sciences. In addition to the 1953 Chauvenet Prize, he won the 1964 MAA Gung and Hu Distinguished Service to Mathematics Award.
A letter from McShane to Edward Begle is featured in the School Mathematics Study Group Records spotlight page.