Denny and Frances Gulick, “Keepers of the Flame”
Donors and UMD Professors of Mathematics Denny and Frances Gulick love teaching, love music and love art — and they live to make a difference in this world.
DENNY: I’m the only mathematician in my part of the family. I’m the son of a professor; I’m a grandson of two professors. I also love music. I was really born to be a musician but because I lost an eye when I was two, my parents told me that I wasn’t going to do music for livelihood. Later my father gave me a multiplication table and I became a lover of mathematics. I love trying to solve solvable problems.
FRANCES: The thing that first led me to math was a high school teacher — young, handsome with lots of energy and he really did inspire a lot of us into math and science. Then a college professor said that I should go for graduate school. And then I just kept right on going. I am proud of the fact that I’m actually third-generation woman in my family to graduate from the University of Minnesota, each with a higher degree.
I am proud of the fact that I’m a third-generation woman in my family to graduate from the University of Minnesota, each with a higher degree.
DENNY: Now we’re student advisors in the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences.
FRANCES: We tell them one of the things they need to do while they’re at Maryland is take advantage of the Clarice Smith Center, because this is their best opportunity to explore. That’s something all of us advisors should be saying: This is part of your education.
DENNY: I was just a mathematician in college at Oberlin but I also was playing in the conservatory and was in a few concerts. The moment I get free at the university I listen to classical music.
FRANCES: I love very traditional kinds of things — I like Bach; I like a quiet, contemplative communion — and I also teach in a very traditional area. I want to pass on to students not just knowledge of mathematics but hopefully some of my love of it.
The moment I get free at the university I listen to classical music.
DENNY: Another tradition we’re involved with is a friendship doll exchange with Japan. My grandfather was a missionary in Japan and in 1925 he suggested to the Council of Churches that the best way to foster friendship is through children, so why don’t the children of America send the children of Japan dolls? It was tremendously successful but during World War II almost all the dolls were gotten rid of as agents of the enemy and if you were caught with a doll then it was bad news for you. In 1986, Japan was opening a wonderful doll museum in Yokohama and invited my father but he was not able to travel, so I went.
Since then, we’ve sent over 200 dolls and they’ve invited us to come back about a dozen times. This project really reflects our approach to the world. We both just love teaching and we love music and we love art. We want to make sure people like to learn and that their lives are as good as they can be.
Along with its stellar activities and performances, the Clarice Smith Center is one of the two most powerful and productive changes since I arrived on campus in the mid 1960s
I think that the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, along with its stellar activities and performances that provide people with opportunities to learn, is one of the two most powerful and productive changes since I arrived on campus in the mid 1960s.