No Harvard flag is flying at half mast today, but the whole University mourns the death of William C. Graustein. No member of the faculty was more admired or beloved. As a professor and adviser he endeared himself to undergraduates, and as an authority on differential geometry he was internationally respected.
Professor Graustein had been associated with Harvard off and on for thirty years, graduating cum laude with the class of 1910. He completed his studies at the University of Bonn in Germany and returned to Harvard as an instructor some five years later. Except for several years spent at the Rice Institute as an assistant professor of mathematics, and two years spent at the Aberdeen proving ground where he helped to compile range tables for anti-aircraft guns, Professor Graustein has been teaching at Harvard. When he died he was a full professor, chairman of the Board of Tutors in Mathematics, and the assistant dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Awarded the Royal Academy of Belgium mathematical award in 1926, an award internationally competed for, he was author of many articles on differential geometry, and served as one of the editors of the journal, "The Transactions of the American Mathematical Society."
In spite of all his fame, however, he remained unassuming and deeply interested in his work and students. If anyone ever made mathematics alive, it was he, enlivening his explanations with such comments as "The smallest number I ever knew was one over the national debt." He was such a popular professor that his courses and sections were invariably overapplied for, and nothing annoyed him more than the much discussed breach between masters and undergraduates. He was such a popular professor that his courses and sections were invariably overapplied for, and nothing annoyed him more than the much discussed breach between masters and undergraduates. He will always be remembered as an intensely human and inspiring friend.