DR. T.A WHITELAW, 1943-2021

Tuesday 9th February, 2021

The School of Mathematics and Statistics is very sad to announce that Dr T.A. Whitelaw, universally known as “Tommy”, died after a short illness on 21st January this year.

Tommy was a unique man. A hugely popular and inspirational teacher (who can forget the image of him lecturing in his gown!) and advisor of studies, and a valued colleague to the members of staff in, in succession, the Department of Mathematics, The Faculty of Information and Mathematical Sciences, the School of Mathematics and Statistics, and the College of Science and Engineering. In total, he spend over 40 years working at the University of Glasgow.

He had – as many generations of students will remember, and remember fondly – an amazing memory, learning – apparently effortlessly – the names of all the students in his classes and all his advisees. I once asked him about a former student I had met, who had been a student in Glasgow a quarter of a century ago. He paused, thought, and said “No”, but then remarked that was the year when he did not lecture the first year mathematics class!

But the truly outstanding fact, as many readers of this will know, is that he kept in touch with hundreds of former students and advisees, sending out regular “epistles” to them all. He also kept a huge photographic collection of former students, digitizing many of them, and these can still be found here:


While in poor health over the last few years, Tommy remained as active as he could, and was still in contact with his wide circle of friends until earlier this month, and indeed, was playing his regular online bridge game only two weeks before he died.

The School has set up an online book of remembrance here:


If you have memories and tributes to Tommy that you would like to share, please do so. I look forward to reading such tributes to such a unique person – he will be missed.


Professor Ian Strachan

Head of School