Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Educational Milestone: Louis Leithold Dead At Age 80

CNN has the news that textbook author Louis Leithold has died of "natural causes" at age 80:

Leithold wrote "The Calculus," which became a standard text and was credited with changing the way the subject is studied. The book, first published in 1968, is widely used in high schools and universities and is in its seventh printing.

Among the many educators he influenced was Jaime Escalante, whose success teaching calculus to poor, largely minority students in East Los Angeles was chronicled in the 1988 film "Stand and Deliver."

"I called him my adviser," Escalante said Saturday. "He was one of the great mathematicians. His book had beautiful problems. It made us believe that anybody could do calculus."

Leithold held a doctorate in math and taught at numerous schools during his long career, including California State University at Los Angeles, the University of Southern California, Pepperdine University and the Open University of Great Britain.

Amazingly, when he was 72 years old, Dr. Leithold launched a calculus program at California's Malibu High School. One of his current students Matthew Mesher, aged 17, said of Leithold, "He inspired you to do mathematics. His face would just light up."

Dr. Leithold's story is just another example of how one person can continue making a positive difference to others long after many would have retired.
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