Stephen Maurer

Profile Updated: June 10, 2017
Spouse/Partner: Fran(ces) Stier (m 10/9/82)
Homepage View Website
Children/Grandchildren: Leon, b 1986 (Dartmouth '08, majors in math & physics, PhD Wisconsin 2016 in physics, now at Sandia More…national labs, about to marry his Russian wildlife ecologist girlfriend)

Aaron, b 1989 (Math & history majors, Carleton '11, Stat MA from U Chicago 2015, Data Scientist for Airbnb in SF, about to move to Slack in NYC to be near his fiancee who is attending law school at NYU (she is Princeton '11)
Residing In: Swarthmore, PA USA
What have you been up to since graduation?

Teaching mathematics, mostly at Swarthmore, more recently also at MathPath( , of which I have become the executive director. I officially retire from Swarthmore this coming summer. I was diagnosed with Parkinson's four years ago, and starting in July 2015 it took a somewhat uncommon turn for the worse – look up Camptocormia, Pisa syndrome. I expect to be at the reunion but not very mobile.

Extracurricular activities, books, creative products, athletic achievements:

Wrote two published math books, especially proud of Discrete Algorithmic Mathematics, an undergrad text written with Tony Ralston.

In the Borough of Swarthmore at one time or another have been President of the Swarthmore Swim Club and Trinity Cooperative Nursery. Also ran Dimensions in Math, which did enrichment pullouts at the local elementary school, for many years.

I was one of our (few?) classmates who was not an activist during our undergraduate years, but once back in town I was active doing office volunteer work, phoning, and canvasing for various Democratic candidates.

Open category - thoughts, quotes, wisdom:

I recently filled out a personal information form, applying to move to KENDAL, a continuing care retirement community 20 miles west of Swarthmore. Some of the questions get at major events for me of the last 50 years, so I copy them.

5. a. Looking back, can you describe some of the most significant turning points in your life?

    Deciding to leave Exeter, though I loved being on the faculty there, and seek my fortune in the college/university world.
    Getting the offer to join the faculty at Swarthmore, thus returning to my alma matter.
   Deciding to marry Fran.
   Deciding to accept the invitation to work one summer at MathPath.

Some of the proudest moments happenings in your life?

1.That my two children grew up successfully: sound and stable personalities, inquisitive, knowledgeable, thoughtful, write well, have a variety of skills, and have found good partners.
2. That my wife s devoted to helping people less fortunate than she is, and works hard at it.
3. That years later I learn that something I said or did as a teacher had a lasting effect on someone.
4. Becoming Executive Director of MathPath.

Some of the saddest moments happenings in your life?

1.Watching my Mother deteriorate and die from an unusually aggressive Meningioma, not helped at all by my father , who felt she was not trying hard enough to exercise her way out of her disabilities. (1994-95)
2.Realizing that all our plans for active retirement with lots of travel together were not going to happen.
3.One day, when my first son Leon was maybe 4, going out the front door with him to do something outside, me leading, and how, not turning around, I tried to close the front door behind me, and when it resisted oddly, pushing a little harder, and when it still resisted turning artound and seeing that I was crushing Leon’s finger in the door frame, and how he was trying to scream but no sound came out. This image is seared in my memory. I had hurt him terribly by being careless and unobservant – and it was not the only time I hurt him through carelessness. (Fortunately he recovered from this incident.)

b. What would you consider to be your sources of strength at such times?

That I understand probability, and can conclude that what has happened to me (or others) of a debilitating nature is neither fair nor unfair, nor the work of a just or unjust God, but simply random luck.

6. Has your life changed significantly over the past 10 years?

Our 2 kids grew up and moved away.
Developing my current form of Parkinson’s.

7. What sort of things frustrate you?

Everything I want to do taking so long, including desk work.
On the other hand, I like to take a longtime with decisions, and struggle when others or events require quick decisions.

Stephen's Latest Interactions

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Aug 15, 2020 at 9:51 AM

Hi, Steve... Happy Birthday!

Stephen Maurer has a birthday today.
Aug 15, 2020 at 4:33 AM
Stephen Maurer has a birthday today. New comment added.
Sep 23, 2019 at 11:43 AM

Posted on: Aug 15, 2019 at 4:34 AM

George H Stein posted a message on Stephen Maurer's Profile. New comment added.
Aug 16, 2018 at 8:36 AM

Posted on: Aug 15, 2018 at 8:04 AM

Happy Birthday, Steve! Warm regards, George

Stephen Maurer has a birthday today.
Aug 15, 2018 at 4:34 AM
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Sep 11, 2017 at 10:49 PM

Now that Don Marritz has shared the news that Erc has died, let me be the first to write an in memoriam note.

I was stunned to learn tonight through our Swarthmore class notes that Eric had died last month. He was one of my good friends at Swarthmore and ever since. We exchanged lengthy annual letters. I received his 2007 annual in May, and he was his usual enthusiastic self describing his cycling trip to Greece and the success of his daughter's. Then in June I saw him at our 50th Swarthmore reunion and again he seemed his usual energetic lively healthy self. I had to review his annual letter to remind myself that there was a medical problem - diabetes. Did that contribute to his death? He said it was under good control. I know he was somewhat discouraged that the State and University of Wisconsin had gotten into the business of advising startups, cutting substantially into his professional livelihood of advising startups. But I never knew Eric to let business difficulties get him down for long.

I shall miss Eric, especially our discussions of his trips and his love of languages. Also his telling of his mother's experience as a Jew in Nazi Germany and his eventual return to her hometown.

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May 27, 2017 at 8:07 AM
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May 27, 2017 at 8:02 AM
Stephen Maurer has left an In Memory comment for Geoffrey S Joseph.
May 26, 2017 at 12:33 PM

Geoff was an honors major in phil, minor in math; I was an honors major in math, minors in phil and ling, with a 4,3,1 split, so we took mostly the same seminars the last 2 years, as well as the same special math course our sophomore year.

Junior year I was upstairs in Wharton (E section?) and Geoff was on the 1st floor in maybe F.  He used to hold court each night in his room, telling funny stories (often about his home state, FL, and his stepmother, Shirley, both of whom he detested) or discussing wide ranging intellectual topics.  Steve Diamond was there often, I infrequently, since I always felt I had work to do. I don't think Geoff ever started work before midnight, but he always got it done, very well.

AFter we graduated I saw him from time to time.  I remember visiting him in Boston and later in Wisconsin.  Then, after I returned to Swarthmore to join the faculty in 1979, he used to visit me at my house when, not infrequently, he visited his old teachers.

Do you remember the fatal Amtrak crash between Baltimore and Philly?  I'm talking about the crash in the 1980s (1/4/87 to be precise - thank you, Wikipedia! It's amazing how we can now look up anything quickly from a sliver of information), not the crash *in* Philly 2 years ago. Geoff came up to Swarthmore from DC on the train immediately before the crashed train, and had heard about the crash by the time he reached my house. He spent some time thinking about the fact  he had originally planned to be on the later train and it was just luck that he was alive. (The daughter of a mathematician I knew at Hopkins died on that train.) I guess this was part of Geoff's deeper thoughts about death, but I didn't know it at the time.  Though we had a long friendship, with overlapping academic interests and a lot of mutual respect, I never was privy to his inner sanctum.  Not sure anyone was.

Stephen Maurer has left an In Memory comment for Robert B Rardin II.
May 26, 2017 at 12:33 PM

I had a lot of interesting talks about language with Bob. I remember a freshman meal conversation about whether some languages were better for poetry.  I proposed that French was especially good, with its melifluous soft sounds. He vehemently objected that Russian was much better, since it was capable of being either harsh or soft.

On another occasion we talked about regional American accents, and I proposed as a test word "cream cheese" because I knew in some places the first word was heavily accented, and in others both words got equal stress. He immediately pointed out that where he came from (Ohio?) the strong stress was on the 2nd word! Try "cream cheese" in a sentence and see how you say it.

A year or so after graduation I saw him once in Boston (I think he was a ling grad student at MIT) and he showed me a page (perhaps written by Chomsky)  illustrating various interesting features of English usage with all the example sentences damning and scurrilous statements about the US leaders dragging us through the Vietnam war.

I gather Bob suffered from depression and angst about his sexual preferences , but I don't think I knew anything about that at the time.


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