category: Faculty Emeriti - In Honor Of

Paul W. Jolley

Professor Emeritus of Mathematics

Paul Jolley

Dr. Paul W. Jolley (1931 -),
 retired professor of
 mathematics, was born near 
the Rutherford/Cleveland
 county line in North Carolina, 
the second of three children
 of Z.W. and Lois B. Jolley. He
 attended Cliffside School and
 graduated in 1949. During his 
high school years he worked at 
his father’s service station and 
grocery store. He also helped 
his father operate a hammer
mill and farm, primarily
 growing cotton; in addition,
 he raised chickens and milked 
two to three cows twice a day.
 After graduation he entered Appalachian State Teachers College (now Appalachian State University) in the fall of 1949. While at Appalachian, he worked his way through college at the campus cafeteria.

During his sophomore year, he met Maxine Sink (1929-2012) and dated her for two years before they were married. Paul received his Bachelor of Science degree from Appalachian in mathematics education in August of 1952. He and Maxine then moved to Davidson County, N.C., where he began his teaching career in mathematics and where their son, Steve, was born in 1953. After three years in Davidson County, Paul decided to return to school to obtain his master’s degree. Maxine had been teaching for three and a half years, and they had bought a home on 10 acres of land. They sold their home and land and moved back to Boone even though he had only $6 in his pocket. He began his studies in the summer of 1955, and by the end of August, he had been offered a school position in Boone at the Demonstration School for Appalachian with part of his teaching related to the methods of teaching mathematics. Their daughter, Sandra, was born in 1955, while they lived in Boone. Paul continued with his work on the master’s degree while teaching a full load and writing his thesis. He received his Master of Arts degree in education and mathematics in August 1956.

Maxine was ready to leave the snowy winter behind, so Paul accepted a teaching position at Shelby High School in late August 1956; he began a six-year stay at the high school. He worked the gates at athletic events, operated the school store, and helped give the SAT Tests.

In the summer of 1958 he applied for and received a grant to attend UNC-Chapel Hill under the National Science Foundation program, which prepared him to teach the new math.

In spring of 1961 a few of his students expressed an interest in taking a calculus course, a mathematics course not being taught at Shelby (N.C.) High School. He agreed to teach this course by meeting at 7:15 each morning throughout the remainder of the year. During the spring of 1962, the principal requested that he take on another responsibility: coaching golf. Even though Paul had never been on a golf course and knew nothing about the game, the principal insisted, so Paul coached golf. He arranged to have one of the better golfers teach him the game and he had a session as often as possible.

By the end of the year, he began to think that teaching high school mathematics and assuming all the extracurricular activities was too much. He heard that Gardner-Webb was in need of a mathematics professor. He applied; however, he was told that he would also need to teach physics as well as mathematics. He immediately applied to the University of North Carolina and took a general physics course during the summer while making plans to teach physics at Gardner-Webb. He went back to Chapel Hill during the next three summers to study and completed an Master of Arts degree in mathematics.

In the fall of 1962 he began teaching math and physics at Gardner-Webb; most semesters he taught five or six classes. The College president, Dr. Eugene Poston, asked if he would be interested in studying for his doctorate. Jolley told him that he would need financial assistance to make further studies possible. Poston arranged for several members of the teaching faculty to receive grants to help them go through graduate school. Paul enrolled in Florida State University in the fall and had completed his course work by the end of the summer session of 1969. He returned to Gardner-Webb, taught, and completed writing his dissertation during the next two years, thus earning his Ed.D.

On Feb. 28, 1977, the chair of the mathematics department, Mr. Dixon, died suddenly. Jolley was asked to teach the remainder of the semester, and he was appointed chair of the department. He also served on several committees: the teacher education committee for 18 years, the curriculum committee, and the graduate council.

In the summer of 1980, Jolley was asked to become the faculty athletic representative (FAR). In this capacity he was responsible for checking the eligibility of each athlete who represented Gardner-Webb. As part of this work, he served on the South Atlantic Conference (SAC), and later became president of this conference. During this time there was an expansion of the South Atlantic Conference from a football conference to an all-sports conference. Jolley also served on the committee to select the conference commissioner. As a result of his work and the multitude of roles served,  he was selected to become an inaugural member of the Hall of Fame of the SAC Conference (2000). For over a decade, Jolley served on several search committees for coaches and assistant coaches. When he was asked to serve as the FAR, he was also asked to serve on the Cabinet at Gardner-Webb. His primary responsibility was employing faculty members for the college.

Since retirement he has enjoyed playing golf with other retirees from GWU and volunteering at Church and in community activities. Jolley also enjoys his family time with Steve, Sandra and their children. He continues to live in Shelby, N.C.

Source: Personal Interview—Doris Banner

Updated: August 2014—Paul Jolley

Updated: July 2022

Paul W. Jolley at the Faculty Emerita luncheon and celebration in June 2016.

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