Past President David Sutherland was presented the C.C. MacDufee Award for Distinguished Service to Pi Mu Epsilon at the Centennial Celebration Meeting in Portland, OR on August 8, 2014. (Photograph by Robert Sefton Smith)
Pi Mu Epsilon occasionally bestows a special award to people who have made significant contributions to the Society and its student members. The C. C. MacDuffee Award for Distinguished Service was first given in 1965. The first recipient was J. Sutherland Frame and there have been only fourteen others. The MacDuffee award is not given annually, but (in the words of the 1965 PME Council) “often enough to be recognized and seldom enough to be meaningful.”
David Sutherland was inducted into the Arkansas Beta Chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon as a student at Hendrix College on May 9, 1979. In 2014 he finished his term as Past President of PME after 15 years of exceptional service on the PME Council.
When David first joined the PME Council he took on the job of Webmaster. He greatly expanded and enhanced the website. He worked for years to digitize the back issues of the Pi Mu Epsilon Journal into a searchable database. David was always willing to travel for PME on a moment’s notice and made 23 official PME visits to Chapters in 14 states, from Florida to North Dakota.
As the PME Centennial approached David became the PME historian. He made arrangements with the Mathematics Archives to accept PME memorabilia in their collections. He went through numerous boxes of documents, digitizing many and curating those he selected for the archives. He created exhibits of historical documents to display at the 2014 JMM and MathFest and wrote an article for MAA Focus on the PME Centennial.
David worked with numerous Hendrix College students on research projects, brought many students to speak at the PME meeting at Mathfest, and his students published several articles in the PME Journal.
But it was his gentle leadership after the sudden death of beloved PME Secretary/Treasurer Leo Schneider in 2010 that was his greatest inspiration to all PME members, and the Council in particular. It was a very difficult loss for the Society, and David got us through it with extraordinary grace and kindness.