Ronald C. Mullin and Pat Cunningham honoured with rooms in the new Waterloo Math Advancement Hub

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Five people, including Ron Mullins (an elderly white man) and Mark Giesbrecht (a tall bald white man) pose for a photo

From L-R: Back row: Combinatorics and Optimization chair Chaitanya Swamy, Kimberley Kowalik (Mulllin's daughter, BA '96), Dean of Mathematics Mark Giesbrecht; front row: Ronald C. Mullin (MA '60, PhD '64), Janet Mullin (Mullin's wife) 

On Friday, March 31, the University of Waterloo Faculty of Mathematics proudly unveiled two spaces in the new Math Advancement Hub: the Ronald C. Mullin Boardroom, named in honour of the University’s first alum and a former professor in the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization, and the Pat Cunningham Corner, named in honour of the Faculty of Mathematics first alumni officer.

 “I never worked a day in my life,” said Ronald C. Mullin (MA ’60, PhD ’64) the dedication ceremony. “It was always fun and I think most people who work in the Faculty of Mathematics would say that.”

Mullin received his master’s degree in mathematics in 1960, becoming the University’s first graduate. He was so talented that the University used him to recruit William Tutte, a renowned codebreaker and cryptography expert. After completing his PhD under Tutte, Mullin became a professor at the University of Waterloo and, in 1967, co-founded the Combinatorics and Optimization Department in the Faculty of Mathematics. He co-founded Certicom in 1985, a leading provider of wireless security solutions, which was acquired by BlackBerry in 2009.

Paul Schellenberg (MA ’66, PhD ’71), former professor and chair of the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization, paid tribute to Mullin’s legacy. “I firmly believe that Ron’s personality, his integrity, his open nature, his sense of humour and adventure, his curiosity and his wide-ranging knowledge did a great deal to influence the way the culture of the Combinatorics Optimization Department developed,” said Schellenberg.“The Combinatorics and Optimization Department is a wonderful place to work in large measure because of the example set by Ron.”

Pat Cunningham (BMath ’73), who worked in the Faculty of Mathematics from 1991 to 2008 as the Faculty’s alumni relations officer, was in attendance for the dedication ceremony.

Dean Mark Giesbrecht and Pat Cunningham

Pat Cunningham, pictured with dean Mark Giesbrecht

"Pat is an inspiring example to us all. She built our alumni relations program from the ground up with tremendous passion, integrity, and dedication,” said Mark Giesbrecht, Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics. “We are indebted to her for much of what we take for granted today–including a vibrant and connected alumni community.”

The Math Alumni Hub is located at 375 Hagey and will be used by the Math Advancement Team to pursue its mission of engaging with the alumni community and building support for Faculty projects.