Harvey Mudd College professor of mathematics emeritus and Sierra Club Chairman Robert (Robin) T. Ives died Jan. 11, 2019.
Ives was born in 1930 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he lived until his graduation from high school. He received a bachelor of science degree in mathematics at Haverford College and his PhD from the University of Washington. He was an instructor in mathematics at the University of Virginia before moving to Claremont in 1957, where he began a long career at the recently opened Harvey Mudd College in 1958. He began as an assistant professor of mathematics and became a full professor in 1964.
Ives retired in 1996 after 38 years of teaching. Upon his retirement, Courtney Coleman, then professor of mathematics, said, “Robin has been at HMC longer than anyone else now on the regular faculty. He has taught every graduating class at HMC.”
Ives was an expert in geometry and matrix algebra and was known for his clear explanations and mentorship of students. He was respected for his even temper, firm beliefs and dedication to the College. He was also well-known for his environmental concerns.
After moving to California, Ives joined the Sierra Club and was a very active member. He enjoyed leading hikes through the local mountains and getting his students involved in the Sierra Club. His accomplishments in the club included becoming a member of the Angeles Chapter Executive Committee and chapter chairman; chairman of the Southern California Regional Conservation Committee; chairman of the Angeles Chapter Conservation Committee; editor of the Southern Sierran; founder of the Mount Baldy Group of the Angeles Chapter; and founder/chairman of the Angeles Chapter Basic Mountaineering Training Course. With his future wife, Lori Wilcox ’61, he produced most of the club’s publications and monthly newsletters.
During the 1980s, Robin and Lori worked to establish protections for California’s coast and participated in an eight-year campaign that resulted in the passage of the California Wilderness Bill. In the 1990s, they worked for the eventual passing of the California Desert Protection Act.
The Iveses were recognized for their outstanding contributions to the organization and were honored with some of the Sierra Clubs’ most prestigious awards.
When Robin met Lori, she was a student two years his senior. Lori was the only woman in HMC’s Founding Class—the first four-year graduating class. The two were married in 1961, just two days after Lori’s graduation with a B.S. in mathematics. The couple bought a home in Claremont just below The Claremont Colleges, where they resided throughout their lives together. Robin and Lori were very involved in and committed to their community, always engaged in many local activities. They enjoyed 53 years of marriage. Lori was quoted as saying “Robin made sure I had a backpack and boots when we got married. I essentially married him and the Sierra Club in 1961.” She would precede him in death in 2014.
Ives is survived by his two children, a son, James Ives of Chino, California, and a daughter, Alice Ives Meis of Parker, Colorado; four grandchildren, Miranda, Merrick, Carli and Caden; two sisters, Dorothy and Nancy, along with several nieces and nephews.
Credit: Biographical information provided by the Ives family. Supplemental information added by the Office of Communications and Marketing.