In Memoriam: Charles Vinsonhaler, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics

A glowing candle.

[Editor’s note: Charles Vinsonhaler, Professor of Mathematics, passed away last week. Born in Winfield, Kansas in 1942, he earned his Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of WashingtonA celebration of his life will be in Spring 2021. Vinsonhaler’s colleagues in the Department of Mathematics pay tribute to him in this article.] 

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Charles Vinsonhaler, professor emeritus of mathematics at UConn 

Vinsonhaler, widely known as Chuck, was on the UConn mathematics faculty since 1968 and served as Department Head from 1997-2003. He founded the department’s award-winning Actuarial Science program and played a key role in the founding of the Goldenson Center, a think-tank for applied actuarial research at UConnHe retired in 2007. 

“Those of us who have known Chuck for many years remember, with great fondness, both his wisdom and the warm friendship and humor that he shared with us,” said William Abikoff, a colleague and professor emeritus in mathematics.

“I got to know him only over the last few years and will treasure that memory,” said current Department Head Ambar Sengupta. 

Over the span of his career in academia, Vinsonhaler published research on algebra and actuarial sciencin topics including abelian groups, rings, and representations of partially ordered sets. He co-wrote Problem Solving, a textbook mainly geared toward students who dislike math, and the monograph Advanced Topics in Linear Algebra. He supervised at least eight doctoral students’ dissertations and advised numerous master’s students. Vinsonhaler held a number of visiting positions, including at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, where he was an Erskine Fellow. 

 In April 2019, the department’s Actuarial Science program arranged an event to celebrate Vinsonhaler. Students and colleagues in the Mathematics Department shared memories with him, including some former students who became his colleagues 

Ambar Sengupta, department head and professor of mathematics and a colleague of Vinsonhaler’s, shared a comment about him from one of his former students: Changed the path of my life – I majored in math and have a quantitative profession. He is caring, has a great sense of humor and his deep understanding is an inspiration. Math is beautiful and sharing its depth touches one’s soul – this professor helps you share this experience.