Obituary for Justin J. Price


Justin J. PriceJustin J. "JJ" Price, 80, of West Lafayette, died at home surrounded by his family on March 12, 2011.

He was born June 18, 1930, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he grew up. He received his B.S. and M.S. from the University of Pennsylvania, and in 1956 he earned his Ph.D. in Mathematics, also from the University of Pennsylvania.

On August 19, 1956, he married Lillian Shulman in Philadelphia. She survives along with their two daughters, Ruth and Jane, and their families.

In 1963, Prof. Price came to Purdue University as an Associate Professor of Mathematics. Previously he had taught at the University of Pennsylvania and at Cornell University. In 1964-65, he was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. He became full Professor at Purdue University in 1968. Together with Harley Flanders, he was the author of textbooks in calculus, pre-calculus, and college algebra.

In 1976, Prof. Price was asked to revitalize MA 301 (aimed at Math Education majors), and his professional focus then shifted from mathematical research in classical analysis to teacher training. One component of the new MA 301 that Prof. Price devised was an emphasis on writing. He rapidly developed the point of view that it was vital for mathematics students, whether they intend to become research mathematicians or school teachers, to learn to write mathematics. This emphasis on writing, which was quite exceptional in the 1970's, has recently been accepted by professional organizations as fundamental.

In 1976, he was awarded the Lester R. Ford Award for excellence in expository writing by the Mathematical Association of America. In 1993, he received the Mathematical Association of America Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching, Indiana Section. In 1994, he received the national Mathematical Association of America Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching. This award, for which Professor Price was nominated by his colleagues, is granted annually to one mathematics professor in the United States.

After his retirement from Purdue in 2004, Prof. Price volunteered frequently and enthusiastically at LARA (Lafayette Adult Resource Academy). Testimonials from his colleagues and letters of testimony from former students attest to Professor Price's remarkable abilities as a brilliant, approachable, and humane teacher and mentor of students aiming for careers in mathematics. At Purdue, he was voted numerous times as one of the "Outstanding Teachers in the School of Science," and he is recognized in the university's Academy Park for Teaching and Scholarship.