Long-time mathematics professor Michael Ratliff dies at 63

ex- professor Ratliff

Michael Irven Ratliff, a mathematics professor at Northern Arizona University for 32 years, died on Feb. 4, 2008. He was 63.

Dr. Ratliff chaired the Department of Mathematics and Statistics from 1981 through 1986 and from 1991 through 1992.

“Mike Ratliff’s caring attitude, active mentorship and inspirational teaching had a profound affect on his students,” said John Hagood, an NAU mathematics professor. “He will be remembered for dedication to his teaching, passion for learning, loyalty to his friends, hearty enjoyment of life, rock-solid support of those he believed in, quiet generosity and his quick laugh.”

Born on Oct. 26, 1944, to Irven and Edith Ratliff in Williston, N.D., Dr. Ratliff spent his formative years in St. Helena, Calif. He graduated from Pacific Union College Preparatory School with honors, earning him a scholarship to Pacific Union College, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics. He earned a master’s degree from Colorado State University and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Colorado.

A love of the mountains and outdoors brought Dr. Ratliff to Flagstaff. He began teaching mathematics and statistics at NAU in 1976.

Dr. Ratliff garnered several Teacher-of-the-Year awards from his department, college and university. He was a member of the American Statistical Association, Mathematical Association of America, the National Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi and the Southwest Actuarial Education and Research Consortium.

Dr. Ratliff was preceded in death by his parents Irven and Edith Ratliff. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Janet M. McShane, chair of NAU’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics; son Nicholas Ratliff of Durango, Colo.; sister Sandra Ratliff of Walla Walla, Wash.; and numerous in-laws, cousins, nephews and nieces.

The family will accept visitors at Lozano’s Flagstaff Mortuary, 2545 N. Fourth St., from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8. A memorial service will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, at the San Francisco de Asis Parish, St. Pius X Center, 2257 E. Cedar Ave. in Flagstaff.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Johnson-Ratliff Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Northern Arizona University. Family condolences may be sent to www.lozanos-flagstaffmortuary.com.