May 20, 2020 | Katherine Adams
A “philomath” is a Greek word meaning, “one who loves learning and studying.” The ancient Greeks couldn’t have known they were creating a word that would so perfectly fit Clear Lake-area resident Dennis Lawler, a University of Houston-Clear Lake double alumnus, who believed that at the center of art, music, philosophy, literature and everything else was, what else? Math.
That’s why Lawler’s wife Liz, also a UH-Clear Lake alumna, said that after he passed away in April, the best way to honor his memory would be through a math scholarship. “The Dennis G. Lawler Math Scholarship is for a student who is as devoted to the study of math as Dennis was,” she said.
She said that her husband, who had been an engineer at NASA Johnson Space Center since 1989, had received his Master of Science in Physics at UHCL in 2008, and was in the midst of his second master’s degree in mathematical science when he died. “He liked to study just for the sake of studying,” she said. “I have over a thousand books that he read, about everything from math and philosophy to nutrition, religion and chemistry. He believed math was the basis of absolutely everything.”
She said that throughout their 44-year marriage, he never stopped taking courses, never stopped reading, and never stopped studying. “We had gone to London with our niece last September, and while we were there, he got a British Museum library card,” she said. “We went to Ireland and he got a Trinity College library card. Those were his souvenirs because books were his ‘thing.’ So when he died, I thought the best thing to do would be to start a scholarship in his name.”
She said the ideal candidate for the scholarship would be someone like Dennis, who wanted to use math to make the world better. “He wanted to improve things, use math to be creative for new inventions and new discoveries in science, and to improve life for everyone,” she said. “We would like a graduate math student with a 3.0 GPA or higher to receive the scholarship. Mainly, we’d like that person to be very serious about using math to do something great in the world.”
Lawler said donations were still needed for the scholarship. Learn more about donating online, or contact the University Advancement Office at 281- 283-2016 for assistance. Get more information about UHCL's Mathematics and Statistics program online.