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Robert Hannum

In a 2011 interview, Robert Hannum shared that he always liked playing games and it was natural for him to want to understand the mathematics behind the games. He pursued his undergraduate degree in math from the University of Dayton, and earned both an MS and a PhD in statistics from Florida State University.

“Statistics can be a pretty dry subject sometimes but it can be fun if it’s applied to things that you and the students find interesting—gambling is one of those things,” Hannum told’s Megan Driscoll in 2011. “I find the application of probability and statistics to different aspects of gambling and commercial gaming to be quite fascinating and most students seem to agree.”

Hannum, who passed away in January, joined the Daniels faculty in 1979 as an assistant professor. He was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 1985, and to a full professor in 2004. His research focused on statistics, in particular the mathematics of gambling, and he authored a handbook called “A Primer on the Mathematics of Gambling” and co-authored a book titled “Practical Casino Math.”

Hannum’s teaching included mathematics in finance, statistics and a popular elective on the economics of gambling. He taught in both the Business Analytics and Finance Departments at Daniels.

He told, “With research, let what really interests you be the guide. With teaching, my approach is to bring the passion of my research into my course. Excitement over the topics is rather contagious—some students can’t help themselves from wanting to know more!”

“Bob was a gifted teacher, an excellent academic and a solid contributor to the Daniels College of Business,” said Ron Rizzuto, professor of finance, who worked with Hannum for 38 years. “He was a highly regarded instructor. He had a well-deserved reputation for being able to explain complex statistical topics in a clear, concise and simplified way so that students could understand the topics as well as the relevance of the material to ‘real world’ issues.

“Bob was a good colleague for me and others during his years at DCB,” Rizzuto continued. “He was always willing to offer insights and suggestions on research projects. His insights were constructive and relevant. Personally, he helped me solve several problems on my research projects over the years.”

A celebration of life will be held on Friday, March 9, from noon-2 p.m. in the Joy Burns Tuscan Ballroom. The entire DU community is invited to join Hannum’s family, friends and colleagues in sharing memories and honoring his life.