Subhash Saxena left his native India in late 1959 after earning a bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. all in mathematics from the University of Delhi. He began his teaching career in the United States at Atlanta University and then spent nearly 10 years at Northern Illinois and Akron universities. Fed up with the Midwest’s cold and blustery weather, Saxena accepted a one-year visiting professor position at Coastal Carolina University in 1973.
“Even though the salary was not that good, I loved the weather, the ocean and the beaches,” he said. “I saw that there was potential for growth. I served as the first Ph.D. in the mathematics department and thought that I could professionally grow here. And that is exactly what happened. The prime of my life coincided with the growth of Coastal. It has turned into a world-class institution".
Saxena was the heart and soul of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics for nearly 30 years before retiring in 2001. Early during his tenure, he played a major role in developing the math curriculum. In 1985, he earned the Distinguished Teaching Award at Coastal and was then named Outstanding Teacher within the University of South Carolina system. Saxena served as department chair from 1987-93. He is also credited with establishing a Pi Mu Epsilon national mathematics honor society chapter on campus. In recognition of his outstanding contributions, the University named him distinguished professor of mathematics in 2000.
“I love mathematics and mathematics teaching,” he said. “I hope students remember me as a good teacher, but not an easy teacher. I set my standards high and challenged the students.”
His affection for both mathematics and Coastal is very evident. Along with his wife Pushpa, he financially supports the University and its students through the Dr. Subhash Saxena Math Research Endowment, the Dr. Subhash Saxena Math Contest and Lecture Series Endowed Program Fund and the Subhash Saxena Scholarship.
I want to leave a legacy behind,” he said. “Higher education is very important. People who cannot afford it should be given a chance to go to college. Around the country, the cost of going to college is rising faster than anything else. This is my small way to help make a difference.”
Although Saxena no longer teaches in the classroom, he continues to have a positive impact on today’s youth. He remains active at the University through the Dr. Subhash C. Saxena Math Contest, which is designed to stimulate interest in mathematics among high school students. The annual event draws students to campus from throughout South Carolina to compete for awards, prizes and scholarships.