Our faculty profile of the week spotlights Marty Walter, chair of the Mathematics Department at CU. Professor Walter received his B.S. from the University of Redlands in 1966. He did his graduate work at many campuses in the University of California system, working with four thesis advisors along the way, including Masamichi Takesaki at UCLA and Bernie Russo at UC-Irvine. After receiving his Ph.D, he spent a couple of years in Canada where he solved a duality problem for groups. Prof. Walter came to CU in 1973, bought a ten acre farm, proved theorems, built a house, and taught math until the present day. He also currently sits on the Executive Committee of the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Sierra Club and is a co-founder of Ancient Forest Rescue.
Marty Walter was born in Lone Pine, California -- the high Sierras -- about the same time the first nuclear weapons were being detonated nearby. Some of the most influential people in his life during his formative years were his teachers. He got along with all of his teachers in elementary school except Mrs. Forsythe, who during fourth grade locked him in a closet for half a day -- with orders to copy Bartholomew's 500 Hats (a story in their reader). Unfortunately, the light switch was on the outside and he had to copy the story by the light from a crack in the door. Fortunately he did not have to go the bathroom during that half day and his parents, wondering what had happened to him, came and picked him up at the end of the day. One of his problems was that he listened to Mr. Wizard on Saturday, and then contradicted (politely) Mrs. Forsythe when she said that oil tankers rode low in the water because they were heavy when full. He pointed out that it was the density that mattered.
He had a great high school experience in San Jacinto, California, with Mr. Pawley -- his math teacher and tennis coach. There were only 52 students in his class but he managed to win a berth at the National Science Fair in Seattle in the year the Space Needle was built. He won the big prize at the fair, a job with the Army Chemical Corps in Dugway, Utah, where nerve gas was being tested. While he was there, he learned a great deal of mathematics from Dr. Thompson. During this job with the Army, he became concerned with environmental issues and became an environmentalist.