Beloved Davidson professor dies after being hit by car
by Staff Writer
DAVIDSON – Robert Whitton, the Davidson mathematics professor who was hit by a car two weeks ago while crossing Concord Road, died Nov. 11 at Carolinas Medical Center from his injuries.
Whitton, who was taken by helicopter to the Charlotte hospital on Nov. 3, had been a professor with the college off and on since 1979. He was 67 years old.
A celebration of Whitton’s life will take place on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 10:30 a.m. in Davidson College Presbyterian Church, 100 North Main St. A reception will follow in the college’s Lilly Family Gallery.
“He was an extremely nice and personable guy,” said Student Government Association President Gerard Dash. Whitton was beloved by his students, and was known for hosting dinners for his students with his wife at their home, Dash said.
Professor Whitton graduated from Davidson College in 1966 with a degree in mathematics. Afterwards, he attended the University of Pennsylvania where he received a doctorate in theoretical mathematics in 1972, but returned to Davidson to pursue his life’s passion of teaching.
Upon returning to his alma mater, Whitton taught intermittingly at the school, filling in for faculty on leave until he gained the steady position of visiting associate professor of mathematics in 1994.
Student James Cobb recalls Whitton made it a point to support his students both inside and out of the classroom. Cobb said Whitton frequently held his office hours at the college’s Alvarez Student Union, and could often be found in the crowd of any sporting event or performance that his students took part in.
Davidson College’s football game Saturday, Nov. 12, against Morehead State was held in his honor.
Clark Ross, vice president for academic affairs at Davidson, noted that student’s were drawn to Whitton’s class because of his ability to make difficult calculus classes more accessible.
“He took a difficult subject and presented it without stress, and yet with challenge,” said Ross. “Rather than allowing his students to be discouraged by math, Robert turned the challenge of his subject into a confidence-building experience.”
Last year he was presented with the Student Government Association’s Faculty Award. The award is given to a professor who makes an impact both inside and out of the classroom.
Ricky Stacks, 39, of Concord, who was driving the 2005 Jeep that hit Whitton was cited by Davidson Police for failing to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
Whitton is survived by his wife, Amy Suzanne Diamond, their five children and four grandsons.