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Math Professor’s Death Felt Across Campus

April 3, 2017

Elton Graves Retirement

Top of His Class: Elton Graves earned the institute’s Dean’s Outstanding Teacher Award and was recognized in 2012 by the Princeton Review as one of the nation’s best 300 professors.

For more than 30 years, Rose-Hulman counted on Elton Graves—and he kept up his end of the equation. Whether teaching in the math department, assisting students outside of class, directing competitions or advising the honor society, his enthusiasm for mathematics, his skill at teaching and his service to the institute always added up to excellence.

Graves died April 1, not long after announcing his retirement due to illness. 

A gifted professor who used models and demonstrations to explain difficult concepts and varied his approach when he saw that students were struggling, Graves was recognized in 2012 by the Princeton Review in its Best 300 Professors in America book. He also received the institute’s Dean’s Outstanding Teacher Award and earned the Distinguished Educator and Service Award from the American Society of Engineering Education’s Math Division. He was the first educator to earn the ASEE Mathematics Director’s Best Paper Award.

"Dr. Graves' passion for his work was truly evident every day,” noted one former student.  “I don't think I ever remember him having an 'off' day when we had class."

Graves was director of Rose-Hulman’s Fast Track Calculus Program, advisor to the Pi Mu Epsilon mathematics honor society, chair of the Admissions and Standing Committee, Indiana director of American Mathematics Competitions, and coordinator for the Wabash Valley MATHCOUNTS competition.

Graves is survived by his wife Rebecca; two sons, Evan Graves (a 2000 physics alumnus) and Eric Graves; six grandchildren; and other family members. He was preceded in death in 2008 by his daughter, Elena Veach. Funeral services will be held in Terre Haute on Saturday, April 8, at 1 p.m. in Memorial United Methodist Church, 2701 Poplar Street. Visitation will be prior to services, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the church.