Post Classifieds

Numbers add up for Donald Shiley

By Aziz Inan
On February 3, 2011

Donald P. Shiley, who was born on January 19, 1920 (1-19-1920 or simply 1191920) and died on July 31, 2010 (7312010), began his studies at the University of Portland on September 20, 1948 (9201948) and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in General Engineering on June 3, 1951 (6031951). A talented inventor, Donald revolutionized artificial heart valves. In 1971, he and his partner patented the first heart valve, the Pfizer Bjork-Shiley heart valve. In addition to being very successful financially, this invention has saved over 500,000 lives.

Throughout his life, Donald and his wife Darlene generously donated millions of dollars to many good causes. On March 19, 2007 (3192007), the University of Portland announced it had received the largest gift in its history, a $12 million gift from the Shileys to jump-start the renovation and expansion of the fifty-year-old Engineering Hall, originally constructed in 1948, where Donald started his education on The Bluff.

In a dedication ceremony on October 10, 2009 (10102009), the newly expanded and renovated Engineering Hall was officially renamed Donald P. Shiley Hall. A second ceremony took place over two days beginning on December 2, 2010 (12022010), during which an additional gift of $8 million by the Shileys was announced to fund engineering scholarships and further elevate the quality of the engineering school at the University of Portland, which was at that time renamed the Donald P. Shiley School of Engineering.

As I examined the above dates and other related numbers for fun, I observed some interesting and fascinating connections. I decided to summarize my observations in this article as a gift of appreciation to the Shileys for their generosity and commitment to our school and institution.

First of all, September 20 in 1948, when Donald began his education at University of Portland is represented by 920, which corresponds to the last three digits of his birth year, 1920.

Second, if one splits Donald's birthday 1191920 as 119 and 1920, the reverses of these two numbers (911 and 291) add up to 1202, that is, December 2. Note that this is the first day of the Donald P. Shiley School of Engineering renaming ceremony which took place last year.

Third, the difference of the prime factors of 119 (which equals 7 x 17) is 10 and the prime factors of 1920 (which equals 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 3 x 5) add up to 10, so these two 10's put together side-by-side results in 1010, representing October 10, the date of the first dedication ceremony in 2009.

Fourth, if one eliminates the leftmost, middle and rightmost digits of Donald's birthday date number 1191920, number 1992 is left behind and if this number is split into 19 and 92, the sum of the squares of 19 and reverse of 92 yields 1202!

Fifth, if the first dedication ceremony date number 10102009 is split as 1010 and 2009, the reverse of 1010 which is 101 plus 1920 (Donald's birth year) yields 2021 which is the reverse of 1202. Note that Donald's 101st birthday will occur in 2021.

Sixth, Donald's birth date 1191920 can easily be obtained from dedication date 10102009 as follows: Switch the places of 20 and 09 to obtain 10100920; then, add the 10 and the 09 at the center to one another to obtain 10191920; then, reverse the leftmost 10 to obtain 01191920!

Seventh, if the October 10 date number 1010 is split as 10 and 10, 10 + 10 yields 20, 10 minus reverse of 10 is 09 and numbers 20 and 09 side by side make up the year number 2009. Also, 1010 equals 101 x 10 where the difference of 101 and 10 is 91, which equals 7 x 13. Note that the reverse of 91 is 19 and 7 plus 13 is 20, and 19 and 20 together side by side yield 1920, Donald's birth year.

Next, 2009 is 41 x 49, where 41 plus 49 yields 90, which equals Donald's age at death as well as the reverse of the last two digits of 2009. Note also that on 10102009, Donald was 89 and 101 days short of his 90th birthday where 101 is the reverse of 1010. Interestingly enough, the reverse of 89 equals 98, which is 2 x 49 where 49 is 10 + 10 + 20 + 09. Also, number 90 equals 43 + 47 where 43 x 47 yields 2021, which equals the reverse of 1202.

Donald passed away on July 31 (731). If number 731 is split into 7 and 31, the sum of the squares of these two numbers yields 1010, the date of the dedication ceremony in 2009! Also, the average of 7 and 31 is 19 and reverse of 31 plus 7 equals 20, and numbers 19 and 20 put side-by-side is 1920, Donald's birth year.

Donald's 100th birthday will occur in 2020 on 01192020. The reverse of this date number equals 10 x 283 x 717 where these three numbers add up to 1010! The 11th anniversary of the 1010 dedication day in 2020 will also be special since this date number will be 10102020 (where 2020 is twice 1010).

Note that Donald's birth year 1920 equals 15 x 128, where 128 corresponds to the sum of the numbers assigned to the name Donald Shiley (assuming letter A is assigned 1, B is 2, …, and Z is 26).

Also, consider 1010 date in 1920, that is, 10101920. Split this date number into 1010 and 1920, divide 1920 by 10 and add the result to 1010 which yields 1202! Also, on 10101920, Donald was 265 days old. Eight times 265 yields 2120 and reversing the leftmost and rightmost two digits of this number also yield 1202!

Note also that the reverse of last year's dedication ceremony date 12022010 is 1022021 which equal 1001 x 1021, where 1001 equals the product of 13 and 77 which add up to 90, Donald's age on that day. Also, 1001 is 11 x 91, where 91 is Donald's new age this year.

Also, date number 319 representing March 19 in 2007 (the first announcement day of the Shileys' $12 million gift) can be obtained from Donald's birthday 1191920 by first deleting the rightmost digit zero and then taking the product of number 11 on the left side and the reverse of number 92 on its right side.

Lastly, 10 and 210 years later, dedication date 1202 (December 2) will be a palindrome day written as 12022021 and 1222221.

All this adds up to a grateful salute to Donald and Darlene Shiley for their commitment to and support of our University community.

Aziz Inan is a Professor of Electrical Engineering at University of Portland. He can be reached at

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