Former chair contributes to the Altgeld Hall renovation

Philippe Tondeur, professor emeritus of mathematics, has worked and studied at universities around the world, but the University of Illinois holds a special place in his heart and mind.

Tondeur has donated in support of the Campaign for Altgeld and Illini Halls, which includes a plan to renovate Altgeld Hall. The building—which serves as home to the Department of Mathematics where Tondeur once served as chair—was last significantly renovated in 1956. The university has announced that a major renovation of Altgeld is targeted for completion in 2024.

Tondeur said he is proud to contribute to the project.

A desire to improve the educational experience for students led Philippe Tondeur, professor emeritus of mathematics and former chair of the Department of Mathematics, to support the renovation of Altgeld Hall. (Photo courtesy of Philippe Tondeur.)

“State of the art facilities will greatly enhance the student learning experiences,” he said.

Tondeur attended college at the University of Zurich, where he earned a PhD in mathematics. He went on to serve as a research fellow and lecturer at the University of Paris, Harvard University, and the University of California at Berkeley before taking on the role of associate professor at Wesleyan University.

In 1968, Tondeur came to the University of Illinois and became a full professor in 1970. After serving as department chair, Tondeur served as the director for the Division of Mathematical Sciences at the National Science Foundation.

Tondeur has given over 200 lectures at institutions all over the globe. He has also served as a visiting professor at about a dozen universities including the University of Buenos Aires, the University of Rome and Keio University in Tokyo.

Even after spending so much time at other universities, however, Tondeur feels a strong bond with the University of Illinois. He noted that the “fantastic Department of Mathematics” is what originally drew him to working full-time at Illinois.

“The attraction of the university was a position in a world-class institution, with a faculty wholeheartedly devoted to mathematics research and teaching,” he said.

The renovation of both Altgeld and Illini Halls is projected to cost about $100 million, which will be funded by the state, campus and generous donations, including one from Tondeur.

The renovation is coming at an important time. In the past 10 years, enrollment in the mathematics department has increased about 40 percent, which means updates to the facilities are needed to help accommodate a larger influx of students. Tondeur said he’s thrilled to be a part of much-needed renovations that will convert the building into a modern and enduring learning environment.

Tondeur said he loved teaching at the University of Illinois and wants to ensure that students here receive the best possible education for years to come.

“Being part of a faculty entirely devoted to research and teaching has been a life-enhancing experience and the contact with students has been an integral part of it,” Tondeur said. “The assimilation and admiration of the achievements of my colleagues over time at Illinois and elsewhere has been an exciting part of it. These activities have been the substance of my wonderful professional life.”

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