Arkansas couple establish scholarship to honor math professor, mentor

Shelton pic

William and Elaine Durand of Arkadelphia, Arkansas, established a scholarship at their alma mater, Northwestern State University, to honor a beloved teacher and mentor. The Sam Shelton Math Scholarship will be presented to an upper level student majoring in math. From left are Jill Bankston and Drake Owens of the NSU Foundation with Elaine and Wiliams Durand.

An Arkansas couple established an endowed scholarship in memory of a former math professor at Northwestern State University who was a special teacher and mentor.  William and Elaine Squyres Durand of Arkadelphia, Arkansas, established the Sam Shelton Math Scholarship through the NSU Foundation.  Shelton was Mr. Durand’s math teacher at NSU, as well as a close friend who encouraged him to pursue advanced degrees.

“I have had a wonderful teaching career and it all began at Northwestern 58 years ago with the guidance of my wonderful mentor, Sam Shelton,” Durand said.   “I have tried to emulate him as I have guided students through their degree programs.  He set an example that I have strived to replicate.”

The scholarship will be awarded to a junior or senior level student majoring in math who maintains a 3.0 or better grade point average.

Durand enrolled at Northwestern as a first generation college student who wanted to become a mathematics teacher.

“Mr. Shelton was one of the best teachers I have ever had. He took a poor farm boy from Pollock High School and guided him to the B.S. in 1962 and M.S. in 1963 in mathematics,” Durand said.  “During that first year Mr. Shelton became my best friend on campus.  He always welcomed me to his office and would put aside whatever he was working on to help me with whatever problem I was having.  My problems were not always about mathematics.”

Before, Durand completed his undergraduate degree, Shelton was already encouraging him to pursue a master’s degree.  After teaching for one semester at South Terrebonne High School in Houma, Durand began work on his master’s degree, which he completed in 1963, and went to work at Live Oak High School in Watson.  He taught two summers at NSU as a visiting lecturer.

Durand joined the faculty at Henderson State Teachers College, later named Henderson State University, in Arkadelphia in 1966 and completed his EdD with emphasis in mathematics at Oklahoma State University in 1972. Returning to Henderson State, he rose in the ranks to professor and eventually department chair.

“In 2005 I was awarded the degree of Distinguished Professor of Mathematics,” Durand said.  “Even though I retired as Distinguished Professor of Mathematics, Emeritus in 2007 I have continued to teach one or two senior level/graduate level mathematics classes each semester.

Durand and his wife Elaine married in 1967, the year she earned a degree in elementary education at NSU, and they are the parents of Dr. Kevin Durand and Dr. Eileen Durand Faulkenberry.  Kevin is the Dean of Students at a charter school in Little Rock as well as the AP calculus and physics teacher.  Eileen is professor of mathematics education at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. The Durands have seven grandchildren, two grandsons, five granddaughters.

“Endowing this scholarship in memory of Mr. Shelton has been my desire for a long time,” Durand said.  “I hope that it will be a stimulus and financial help for students long into the future.  Northwestern State University has been good to and for me and my wife.”