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Beineke Celebrates 50 Years with University

LB ed

Photo credit: Mikaela Conley

LB ed
Written by: Mikaela ConleyMay 21, 2015

He carried books from Kettler Hall to the new Helmke Library in 1972. He went through the official merging of Indiana and Purdue University in 1975. He witnessed the flood of 1982 when the chancellor canoed through the basement of IPFW’s Student Union. He has been awarded multiple medals, written many books, founded honor societies and even has scholarships awarded in his name.

As the celebration of IPFW’s 50th anniversary comes to a close, 75-year-old mathematics professor, Lowell Beineke, who began his career at IPFW 50 years ago in the fall of 1965, remarks how for him, IPFW is not just a school, but it has been his lifestyle.

“I consider IPFW as a way of life, and I am very fortunate for that,” Beineke said.

Upon his completion of graduate school, Beineke searched for teaching positions at multiple different universities and received a number of tempting offers, “but I thought I could make a difference at IPFW in a way that I might not be able to at a big research university,” he said, explaining the uniqueness and value of diversity on IPFW’s campus.

Having been here for 50 years, Beineke has had the chance to partake in every major event in the campus’ history and has watched as the campus has flourished. That is why he likes to be involved in every aspect of the university such as the music concerts, the theatre performances, athletic events, the Omnibus Lecture Series and much more.

That little blue-eyed boy from Adams County, Ind., who dreamt about being a teacher, never thought that he would graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University, earn a PhD from the University of Michigan, go on to the University of London for a study-abroad program, and later spend  four sabbatical years at Oxford University, becoming known internationally.

Beineke has even attended workshops and presented papers in places such as China, Thailand, India, Japan, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Egypt.

Also granted the first named professorship of the university, the Schrey Professorship, Beineke has conducted years of research in his specialized category of graph theory, published more than 100 papers on the subject, and has a ninth book being published this month with his British colleague Robin Wilson, whom he met in the ’70s.

Furthermore, in 2012, the IPFW College of Arts and Sciences founded the Lowell W. Beineke award in his honor.

According to the award description, “In recognition of Professor Beineke’s achievements, the executive committee of the College of Arts and Sciences will occasionally bestow the Beineke award on other members of the faculty of the college who have demonstrated a similar commitment to the mission of the college and who’s scholarly, teaching, and service contributions are of the highest order.”

Only one other faculty member has been honored with this award since it was founded.


Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry even recognized Beineke’s dedicated efforts as he declared October 3-4, 2014 Lowell W. Beineke Graph Theory Days.

Henry explained his reasoning as, “Professor Beineke is an internationally known mathematician and an award- winning teacher…” and that the Midwest Graph Theory Conference was being held at IPFW in honor of his 75th birthday.

But still, Beineke’s achievements are uncountable.

Beineke served as the editor the College Mathematics Journal from 2004 to 2008.

“This was a big deal because this journal has thousands of subscribers all over the world and IPFW got a lot of exposure among mathematicians and students,” said IPFW Professor of Mathematics, Adam Coffman.

“When I got to IPFW in 1976, it was largely the presence of Professors Beineke and [Professor Emeritus Ray] Pippert that I became a graph theorist,” another colleague, Marc Lipman, said. I’ve had the privilege to do research with Professor Beineke. Aside from sheer mathematical brilliance, which we sort of expect, he’s a really good writer of mathematical prose, which is extraordinarily difficult. He made me better.”

And throughout his 50 years at IPFW, he has not only impacted the university, but it has impacted him.

“To some extent the students that I have taught have changed me… I mean we all like to improve as we go along,” he said.

“The campus has really flourished and grown,” Beineke said, reminiscing back to the vast expansion of the campus, and the construction of new building such as Neff Hall and Helmke Library. He is also excited to witness this expansion continue.

IPFW has essentially grown around Beineke’s office on the second floor of Kettler Hall, the same office that he has had since 1965.

“And the growth is fantastic,” Beineke said.

As the vents marking 50th anniversary of the university draw to a close and Beineke’s 76th birthday will soon approach, the question arises, is half a century long enough?

But, it seems as if no number of years will ever be long enough for Beineke.

“I don’t want to give it up,” he said. “I think my colleagues and students appreciate what I try to do.”

And he plans on continuing to teach until that changes.

Note: In the print version of this article it was mistakenly reported that Lowell Beineke met Robin Wilson in Britain and that he was “brown – eyed.” The Communicator strives for accuracy and has corrected the errors in the online version.