Professor Linda Sons retired in June 2009 after 44 years on the faculty of the Department of Mathematical Sciences. She has been a truly superb teacher, an outstanding complex analyst, and a departmental and university citizen of boundless energy and vision.
Linda’s contributions to the university’s teaching mission outside the classroom are manifold. In the early 1970s, she served as her department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies, and it was under her leadership that the undergraduate major took its present successful form. The junior-level course in mathematical modeling, for example, was introduced many years before other institutions. Another goal was to ensure that students in all majors develop basic quantitative skills. This led to the development of a course in quantitative reasoning. Linda wrote the book for this course and subsequently served as the chair of the Mathematics Association of America’s Committee on Quantitative Literacy, editing its report on Quantitative Literacy for College Literacy. In the 70s and early 80s, Linda had a major role in the development of the Mathematical Sciences Ph.D. program. It was due to her foresight and steadfast advocacy that the degree’s most innovative feature, the Applications Involvement Component, became a central part of the program.
Internationally, Linda is well known and highly regarded for her innovative research in complex analysis. She has delivered numerous colloquia and invited talks at meetings and universities in North America, Europe, and China; and her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation. In addition, she has directed four Ph.D. dissertations and numerous master’s theses, and has served as a mentor for several generations of junior faculty.
Her service to mathematics and to the College and University didn’t end there. Linda served as President of the Illinois Section of the Mathematics Association of America (MAA), and as a member of the Board of Governors of the MAA. At NIU, she served with distinction on every major departmental committee, on numerous College and University committees, including the College Council, the Faculty Senate, on which she was President, and the University Council, on which she was the Executive Secretary.