Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science
Education: bachelor's and master's from Southern Methodist University; doctorate from Iowa State University.
Dr. Robert Shive joined the Mathematics Department at Millsaps College in 1969. He taught for ten years, was associate dean of the College for 16 years, and returned to full-time teaching in 1995. He has served through six presidents and seven deans, starting with President Benjamin Graves and Dean Frank Laney.
Technology seems to have grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years, and Millsaps is now a wireless campus. How technologically advanced was Millsaps in your early days at the College?
There was not much if any general-use technology. There was one copy machine, located in the basement of Murrah Hall.
What innovations have you been part of at Millsaps?
I helped secure the College's first computer in 1972 and then another in 1976 when it was realized we needed a computer with broader capacities. This computer allowed some administrative offices and some faculty to have on-line access to computing resources for the first time. We started the Department of Computer Studies in the 1970s, and I was the first chair. When I became responsible for Computer Services, we wired the campus, placing ethernet and fiber optic cable to all buildings and residence halls. In 1991, I was responsible for getting Millsaps connected to the Internet when very few places in Mississippi had such a connection.
You are said to know where most all of the underground cable is on campus. How did that come to be?
My team took advantage of a conduit that had been placed underground from the new Academic Complex to the side of the Bowl and extended it to Sullivan-Harrell Hall. This allowed a multi-wire cable to be run, allowing Sullivan-Harrell to have access to equipment in the Academic Complex. From that point, any time a trench was dug on campus, I was there to see if we could extend it to connect our buildings. When fiber optic cable became available, we trenched across campus, connecting all buildings and residence halls to our campus network.
When did you realize that desktop computers and other technology would become common and part of our everyday life?
As we installed the PDP-11 in 1976, I gained awareness that this was a major step in making computing available to those who wanted or needed it. Having "time-shared" computing for an individual meant, in the words of a colleague in higher education at a major university, "we had personal computing long before the advent of the personal computer." My mathematics background helped me to appreciate how powerful a resource computing would continue to be for Millsaps.
Your family is well connected to the College. Please elaborate.
My wife, Lynda Fowler Shive, is a 1964 Millsaps graduate. My youngest son, Hampton, is a 1991 Millsaps graduate. My oldest son, Allen is a 1995 M.B.A. Millsaps graduate. And, my daughter, Allyson Shive Willis, is a 1995 Millsaps graduate. I tell my students that everyone in my immediate family has a Millsaps degree except me. I have a bachelor's and a master's from Southern Methodist University and a doctorate from Iowa State University.