The Numbers Add Up

Increased Funding for Euclid Scholarships Will Benefit Promising CC Mathematics and Computer Science Students

Jeanne Lenhoff Williams

Jeanne Lenhoff Williams ’58

Since 2009, 30 Colorado College students have received Euclid Scholarships in Mathematics and Computer Science, which are given to first- and second-year students who have demonstrated extraordinary potential in both disciplines.

In addition to inspiring the students who receive them, the scholarships — which are awarded at the discretion of the Mathematics and Computer Science Department — have drawn the attention of donors like the late Jeanne Lenhoff Williams ’58, a CC mathematics major and career analyst, programmer, and software developer, who made a significant commitment to the Euclid Scholarships.

“When Jeanne passed away last year, we learned that she made a gift of her entire estate to the Euclid Scholarships,” said Nancy Baxter ’78, director of gift planning. “Jeanne had shared previously that her future plans included CC, so we were able to thank her during her lifetime and welcome her to the Barnes Legacy Society.”

“We are deeply honored by this generous gift to the Euclid Scholarship Fund,” said David Brown, chair of CC’s Mathematics and Computer Science Department and associate professor of mathematics. “These scholarships make a real difference to our students. It is hard to know which is more important — the direct financial benefit or the strong signal that it sends about the potential that their faculty see in them. The study of mathematics has always been central to a liberal arts education, and mathematics and computer science have never been more relevant than they are today. Anything that we can do to encourage bright young thinkers to pursue further study in these fields is something that benefits not only them, but all of society.”

John Tompkins

John Tompkins ’89 meets with CC math and computer science students.

John Tompkins ’89, also a CC mathematics major, established the scholarships because he believes that these students’ accomplishments will provide an extraordinary return on investment. In addition to rewarding students who thrive in mathematics and computer science, he anticipates that the scholarships will draw in alumni who wish to support them and, like Jeanne Williams, contribute to the Euclid Endowed Scholarship fund.

“Being a math major at Colorado College is a unique experience that can lead you to great things in life,” said Tompkins, a Wall Street investor who credits the small department at CC with providing him rigorous preparation and his liberal arts education with giving him unique perspective that has proven invaluable during his career.

Named for the circa 300 B.C. Greek geometrician and educator, Euclid Scholarships were given another boost by Tompkins in 2014 with an additional fund that benefits students who have deep financial need and/or who are part of the first-generation in their family to attend a four-year college or university and have demonstrated financial need. This new fund qualified for matching funds from the Walton Family Foundation. This scholarship is also given with preference to students with an interest in the pursuit of mathematics or computer science.

For students who receive the scholarships, the funding is an affirmation of their work that often leads them to significant levels of accomplishment.

“Students who received Euclid Scholarships early in their college careers have gone on to become some of our most accomplished majors,” Brown said. “Former Euclid Scholars are enrolled in elite graduate programs, or have begun rewarding careers in a number of fields. These are some really bright young people.”

When she received the Euclid Scholarship in Mathematics and Computer Science, Melissa Jay ’16 said, “My first statistics class not only influenced my decision to become a math major, it also opened my eyes to the hidden trends in data and the infinite number of problems that can be solved by methods of quantification. Numbers have a unique power, that when analyzed can exceed qualitative methods. I am excited to continue studying the inherent beauty of numbers found in data and in the natural world.”

Jay, who graduated this year, earned two other distinctions in 2015, when she was a junior. She was named a Goldwater Scholar and participated on a CC team that placed third in an international Mathematics Modeling Contest.

“I hope all Colorado College alumni who took courses in the Mathematics and Computer Science Department will think about how these experiences have manifested themselves throughout their lives,” said Tompkins. “They can now make a difference for CC students who have followed us. It's not important how much they give, but that they participate. Their involvement is part of what makes this department, and these experiences, so valuable.”

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