Arny Feldman is a man of many professional accomplishments, but the trait that stands out to people who know him is his gracious hospitality. His home is a welcome haven for many faculty members and their families. With his wife, Tracy, he regularly hosts holiday gatherings for colleagues not traveling to be with relatives. Children of his colleagues say, “I always liked it when Arny and Tracy were there when I was dragged to some math department event. From as early as I can remember whenever Arny was there he would talk to me and ask questions . . . He always seemed to listen and take me seriously in a way that other adults didn’t.”
Professor Feldman came to F&M in 1979. A prolific scholar, publishing over 30 articles in the area of finite solvable groups, he regularly collaborates with scholars from around the world. He organized what is arguably the only international mathematics conference to be held on our campus, with speakers from Pennsylvania, New York, China, Kentucky, Ireland, Spain, and Germany. He attracts more than his share of extremely bright students; indeed, two of his former research students won the College’s Williamson award. The College appointed him to the Carmie and Beatrice Crietz Endowed Chair of Mathematics.
His students praise Dr. Feldman as a tough teacher who challenges them. At the same time, Professor Feldman has a “gee-whiz” delight for tricky new gadgets. He was the first person in the Math Department to use a cell phone or a digital camera. In fact, his curiosity about a gadget (in this case, GPS) led him to develop a popular course called “Navigation”.
Professor Feldman has served the College in a plethora of demanding ways: from the weighty (Professional Standards Committee, Faculty Council, the Budget Priorities Committee) to the lighthearted (faculty advisor for Dance Dance Revolution Club), and of course as a valued mentor for young faculty. Among his contributions to the lives of every- one on our campus, three stand out as particularly momentous. First, he can claim credit for reminding the College Senate (who was torn between whether the semester should be 13 or 14 weeks long) that fractions are numbers, too; our semesters now run 13.6 weeks. Secondly, faculty members will particularly appreciate his early 2000s suggestion, while on the Strategic Planning Task Force, that the College create what became the FRPDF. Thirdly, as chair of Faculty Council, Professor Feldman used his mathematical prowess to draw up various possible schedules for adding a Common Hour to our weekly calendars. The ensuing discussion, voting, and approval paved the way to make possible F&M’s Common Hour as we now know and love it.
Franklin & Marshall is a better place because he has been among us. We honor Arny Feldman for his keen intellect, his technological curiosity, his creative solutions to perplexing bureaucratic puzzles, and for his warm-spirited generosity.