Scope and Contents Note
The personal papers of Edgar Odell Lovett span almost his entire life. The collection has material about his education at UVA and in Europe, his career at Princeton, his hiring by the Board of Trustees of the Rice Institute, and extensive correspondences with friends and societies he was involved with throughout his life. The collection includes Lovett's personal correspondence, material about academic societies,reprints of articles and speeches produced by Lovett throughout his life. Whereas the Lovett presidential collection in the Rice University Archives does not include much information from the 1930s, these papers include a great deal of material from that time period.
Permission to publish materials from President E.O. Lovett - Personal Papers must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.
Edgar Odell Lovett, mathematics professor and president of Rice Institute (now Rice University), was born in Shreve, Ohio, on April 14, 1871, the son of Zephania and Maria Elizabeth (Spreng) Lovett. After graduating from Shreve High School he entered Bethany College, Bethany, West Virginia, where he graduated in 1890 at the age of nineteen. From 1890 until 1892 he was professor of mathematics at West Kentucky College; in 1892 he became an instructor at the University of Virginia, where he continued his studies and received the degree of M.A. and Ph.D. in 1895. The following year he studied in Europe at the universities of Christiana and Leipzig; he received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the latter in 1896. In 1897 Lovett lectured at Johns Hopkins University and the universities of Virginia and Chicago. In September of that year he became instructor in mathematics at Princeton University. He was promoted to assistant professor and head of the Department of Mathematics and Astronomy at Princeton.
In 1907 he was asked to head Rice Institute, then being planned at Houston; he was recommended for the post by Woodrow Wilson, then president of Princeton. He accepted in 1908, moved to Houston, and was formally inaugurated as the first president of the institute on October 12, 1912; he continued in this capacity until his retirement on March 1, 1946. Thereafter, he was associated with Rice as president emeritus, director, and consultant.
He was a member of many learned societies, including Phi Beta Kappa, the London Mathematical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Circolo Matematico di Palermo, Societe Mathematique de France, and the Royal Astronomical Society. The degree of L.L.D. was conferred on him by Drake University, Tulane University, Baylor University, and Bethany; that of Sc.D. was conferred upon him by Colorado College. In 1898 Lovett married Mary Ellen Hale of Mayfield, Kentucky; they had two daughters and two sons. He died on August 13, 1957, and was buried in Glenwood Cemetery, Houston.
Excerpted from The New Handbook of Texas, vol. 4, 1996. 308.