Mathematician, longtime Vanderbilt professor Charles K. Megibben dies

Charles K. Megibben, who played a major role in developing the mathematics department of Vanderbilt University into a major research center, has died. He was 73.

Megibben, an internationally acknowledged leader in the theory of abelian groups, a major field of algebra, died March 2 in Nashville while undergoing heart surgery. He was a professor of mathematics, emeritus.

“Charles Megibben is one of the people who steered us in the right direction,” said Matthew Gould, professor of mathematics, emeritus. “He pushed very hard for more research in the department.”

Megibben, a native of Lexington, Ky., came to Vanderbilt in 1967 after earning a Ph.D in math from Auburn University and short teaching stints at Texas Tech College and the University of Washington. He was known to eschew the published textbooks, instead preparing and distributing lecture notes to present mathematical theories.

Some of his colleagues taught using Megibben’s lecture notes, Gould said.

“My office was rather near his,” Gould said. I’d very often hear him speaking with undergrads with math questions, and his blackboard was always filled with notations from those sessions. He was very popular among students.”

Megibben became a professor of mathematics, emeritus, in 2005.

Survivors include wife Dottie Megibben, four sons, one daughter, one brother, nieces, nephews, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were scheduled for 4 p.m. March 5 at Phillips-Robinson Funeral Home, 2707 Gallatin Road.

Media contact: Jim Patterson, (615) 322-NEWS

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