Paul J. Sally, Jr. PhD '50

Paul Joseph Sally, Jr. ’50 was a professor of Mathematics and Director of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Chicago for almost 50 years.  An academic leader, Sally was known for developing the “Chicago Math” curriculum used by more than four million children nationwide.
Paul Joseph Sally, Jr. ’50 was a professor of Mathematics and Director of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Chicago for almost 50 years.  An academic leader, Sally was known for developing the “Chicago Math” curriculum used by more than four million children nationwide.

The project’s teaching materials and textbooks tie math to everyday activities such as counting money and playing cards.

After many years of overseeing the curriculum, Paul decided to focus his efforts in a completely different direction.  He went inside the Chicago school system to teach the teachers, reasoning that if you want to teach math well, it helps to know math well.  His footprints are found in settings ranging from Boston College where he intervened at a pivotal time in the evolution of BC’s math department to many inner-city Chicago schools. Paul personally endowed the Sally Award for math achievement by graduating seniors, from the K-8 Thorp Academy set in a working class neighborhood on Chicago’s northwest side.  Sally essentially adopted the magnet school, serving as mentor, teacher, and donor to further the education of numerous students.

While Paul was crusading for math equality in the inner-city he lived a daily battle with his Type I Diabetes.  The last six decades living with the disease took its toll on Paul leaving him with two titanium legs and an eye patch over his left eye.  Paul never lost his spirit for teaching and ever excelled in the classroom.   He passed to his eternal rest this December of 2013 only weeks after being told he was to receive the highest honor at BC High, the St. Ignatius Award.
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