Imperial College London

Mathematics Professor’s legacy continues with fund for disadvantaged students

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Jeff Cash and his granddaughter

Jeff Cash and his granddaughter

Former Department of Mathematics Professor Jeff Cash’s memorial fund will help disadvantaged students access higher education.

Family and friends of the Professor Cash donated more than £1000 pounds to The Access Project (TAP) charity to fund a series of prizes that recognise and award the charity’s top-performing students.

It was really important to him that students from all walks of life were given a chance to study at Imperial, regardless of their background, just like he was able to. Hannah Brown

TAP is a charity that helps students from disadvantaged backgrounds access top universities through personalised tuition and in-school mentoring. The money will pay for vouchers for prize winners over two years, which recognise students' dedication to their studies in turning up for tutorials and committing to improving their grades.

Professor Cash, who passed away in June after a long illness, was the first person in his family to go to university. Professor Cash’s daughter, Hannah Brown, recalls her father sharing that when he told others he wanted to go to university to study mathematics the rest of his class laughed at him.

“Thanks largely to a tutor who saw his potential in mathematics, dad went on to do his degree at Imperial College London and his PhD at Cambridge, which was practically unheard of for anyone from his school. It just goes to show what can happen when someone believes in you,” she said.

Mentoring others

During Professor Cash’s time teaching at Imperial he took on the role of admissions tutor.

Hannah explains: “It was really important to him that students from all walks of life were given a chance to study at Imperial, regardless of their background, just like he was able to. I think it was his way of giving back and giving others the help and support that he was given.”

Girl holding a sign that says: 'I am going to Oxford University!'
One of the students supported by TAP

Professor Cash’s former PhD student Ross Wright said: “He was always interested in other people and their lives and work and would offer help or advice freely.

“During my time studying for my PhD and the three years after as a postdoc I witnessed countless times how Jeff cared for each of his students and not just from an academic perspective. He was a friend, a teacher and a mentor and would go the extra mile to help any of us.

“He created an environment where students supported each other as genuine colleagues with no hint of competition.

“Jeff was such a special person and I'm happy that others will hear of this aspect of his legacy.”

Passion for mathematics

Hannah said: “My dad had a passion for mathematics and loved the certainty and truth that it provides. The numerical methods he researched and developed were similar to those that enabled Apollo 11 to land on the moon.

“He wrote books on mathematics, published over one hundred academic papers, developed outstanding software packages and supervised multiple PhD students. He remained incredibly modest despite his achievements.”

Large family group
Jeff Cash with his family

Hannah said her father believed maths is a fair and democratic activity, and this is captured in a quote from one of his favourite scientists, Richard Feynman, who said: It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart or famous you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong!

Hannah added: “This quote is very much in line with how dad saw the world: he believed in people and ideas rather than reputations and treated everybody equally without preconceptions.”

How can I donate to the memorial fund?

The Access Project is an innovative education charity that helps hard-working young people from disadvantaged backgrounds gain places at top universities. The charity’s trained volunteers help tutor the students to ensure that they have the knowledge and support to access university.

The family of Professor Cash are planning to create an annual fundraiser so that an awards week for The Access Project can continue to be an annual event. To donate to the fund please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/theaccessproject

Reporter

Hara Carragher

Hara Carragher
Department of Mathematics

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Contact details

Email: press.office@imperial.ac.uk
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