A million dollar deferred gift left by a Transylvania University alumna will support an endowed chair in mathematics honoring a professor who had a big impact on her career.
Named after the late Charles H. Haggard, the endowed chair was funded by Dona Swiger Cooper ’66 to help retain current faculty and recognize their exceptional ability — while also attracting new, top-notch professors into the department.
Cooper, who passed away April 14, credited Haggard with being instrumental in preparing her for a career at IBM and Norfolk Southern, where she was director of security and data services.
The university magazine back in 2005 featured the innovative way she planned to use her $1 million life insurance policy and how the professor’s advice set her on her path.
“I told Dr. Haggard I was concerned about what I was going to do,” she said. “I was getting a teaching certificate, but I really didn’t want to teach. He said, ‘What about computer programming?’ I said, ‘What’s that?’ I had never even seen a computer.”
He helped her land that first job at IBM.
Haggard said that back in 1966, “it was a bit unusual to have a really good female math student, primarily because all through grade school and high school the girls were told, ‘You don’t do math — that’s a boys’ subject.’ They weren’t pointed in that direction, regardless of their talent. Dona was maybe just a bit stubborn and decided to go that way anyhow.”
The professor emeritus, who earned his Ph.D. at the University of Kentucky, began teaching at Transylvania in 1961, serving as chair of the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics from 1984 until retiring in 1990. He was named Faculty Member of the Year and Faculty Advisor of the Year multiple times and received Transylvania’s Distinguished Service Award.
Cooper said she was thrilled to make the Dr. Charles Haggard Endowed Chair in Mathematics possible. “I know it will help future Transy students. I think education is the only investment guaranteed never to decrease.”