The Safford Scholarship Endowment

This endowment, established by an anonymous donor, is named for distinguished Vermont mathematician and astronomer Truman Henry Safford, who was born in Royalton, Vermont in 1836.  A child prodigy, he had learned the alphabet at age two and at four was comparing the best available geographies and noting their points of difference. His prowess as a “lightning calculator” was phenomenal.  In 1846, when he was 9, visiting scholar Rev. Henry Adams wrote:

 

“After putting to him a long series of problems which he answered correctly every one, I asked his parents if I might give him a hard sum to perform mentally. They said that they did not wish to tax his mind too much, not often to its full capacity, but were willing to let me try once. Then I said ‘Multiply in your head 365,365,365,365,365,365 by 365,365,365,365,365,365.’ He flew around the room like a top, pulled his pantaloons over his boots, bit his hand, rolled his eyes in his socket, sometimes smiling and talking and then seeming to be in agony until not more than one minute said he ‘133,491,350,208,566,925,016,658,299,941,583,225.’ Afterwards the boy looked pale and said he was tired. He said it was the largest sum he ever did.”

 

The Boston Courier referred to him as “the most wonderfully gifted human who has ever lived’ and Boston banks tried to hire him (see Harvard Magazine September-October 1982 and Vermont Life Autumn 1953). He graduated from Harvard with honors at 18 and then was connected with the Harvard observatory, in the last year acting as its director. In 1865 he was appointed professor of astronomy in the University of Chicago, and director of the Dearborn observatory. In 1876 he has became professor of astronomy at Williams College, a position he held until his death in 1901. His contributions to human understanding of the stars, earth, and moon are significant.

 

The Safford Scholarship goes to a Vermont student who is majoring in the study of mathematics.

 

Recent Recipients

2011

Nikolaus Holm, Mathematics major with secondary licensure, Class of 2013, Amherst, MA

 

2010

  • Cassandra Kivela, Mathematics major with secondary licensure, Class of 2011, Bakersfield, VT
  • Rebecca Hudak, Mathematics major with secondary licensure, Class of 2011, St. Albans, VT

 

2009

  • Rebecca Giroux, majoring in mathematics with secondary licensure, Class of 2011, St. Albans, VT.
  • Nikolaus Holm, majoring in mathematics, Class of 2012, Amherst, MA.
  • Cassandra Kivela, majoring in mathematics with secondary licensure, and minoring in chemistry, Class of 2010, Bakersfield, VT.
  • Cara Modugno, majoring in mathematics, Class of 2011, Bakersfield, VT.

 

2008

Ryan Brier, majoring in mathematics, secondary licensure, Class of 2009, Richford, VT.

Heidi Brosseau, majoring in mathematics, secondary licensure, Class of 2009, Itasca, TX.

Ted Chitambar, majoring in mathematics, Class of 2010, Newport, VT.

Lise Couture, majoring in mathematics, secondary licensure, Class of 2009, East Montpelier, VT.

Heather Francis, majoring in mathematics, secondary licensure, Class of 2009, Williston, VT.

James Helak, majoring in mathematics, secondary licensure, Class of 2009, Huntington, VT.

2007

  • Aron Brophy, majoring in mathematics, Class of 2009, Rochester, NY.
  • Theodore Chitambar, majoring in mathematics, Class of 2009, Newport, VT.
  • Melissa Peake, majoring in mathematics, Class of 2008, West Burke, VT.