In the News

Marvin and Elaine Bittinger

Manchester names department for math textbooks author

Manchester University announces a $1 million donation to benefit math and computer science programs.

Marvin Bittinger graduated from Manchester in 1963 with a solid foundation for a rewarding career as a mathematics professor and author of more than 250 textbooks. Now Bittinger and wife Elaine Sailors Bittinger have made a blended outright and estate gift totaling $1 million.

The Marvin L. Bittinger Department of Mathematics and Computer Science has now been named in his honor. 

Bittinger is a professor emeritus of mathematics education at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. He cut back on teaching in the 1980s to focus full time on writing. “I loved to teach, and I loved to write,” he said. “But I loved to write better.” 

The decision propelled him to become one of the world’s most prolific writers of math textbooks, selling more than 13 million copies, some in their 13th and 14th editions. The texts have helped countless students grasp a range of topics from basic mathematics and algebra to trigonometry and calculus. 

When he wrote a textbook, he said, he would sit at the computer in his office and imagine explaining math to a student sitting next to him. “I don’t think I ever wrote a book to make money,” he said. “I wrote books so kids could understand.”

A lifelong baseball fan, Bittinger also wrote a book about hitting with Major League Manager Dusty Baker, and another on the mathematics of baseball. A scholar of theology and philosophy, Bittinger wrote a book called “The Faith Equation – Mathematical Evidence for Christianity.”

The Bittingers have long been generous donors to Manchester, establishing the Thurmyle Gosnell Memorial Scholarship Fund named for Marvin’s aunt. He also served on the Board of Trustees from 1992 to 1997 and received the Alumni Honor Award in 2010.

Their gift will provide an endowment fund. Earnings from that fund will help support such things as student learning, research and faculty development in the department.

“We are so grateful to Marv and Elaine for this enduring legacy,” said President Dave McFadden. “Gifts from alumni help Manchester achieve levels of affordable excellence for our students that would not otherwise be possible.”

Elaine graduated from Manchester in 1964. They live in Carmel.

For the media

For more information, contact Melanie Harmon, vice president for advancement and chief fundraising officer at Manchester.

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April 2021