A retired University of Northern Iowa professor who died earlier this year has left $1.5 million for the school. Bonnie Litwiller’s gift, announced today, will fund scholarships for students who want to become math teachers. Doug Mupasiri, who heads the U.N.I. mathematics department, says Litwiller had a big impact on a lot of lives on the Cedar Falls campus.

“She taught here at the university for 35 years and was, in fact, the face of the (secondary math) education major,” Mupasiri said. “She was hired precisely to take care of that and she did that with all the passion she could muster for 35 years.” Litwiller retired in 2000.

Her gift to the U.N.I. Foundation stipulates that the scholarships be awarded to students who “demonstrate academic excellence and financial need.” Preference will also be given to students pursuing a degree in secondary math education.

“This will be very helpful to students who would like to pursue teaching and for whom money is a serious issue,” Mupasiri said. U.N.I. President Ben Allen noted that Litwiller’s gift comes at a time when there’s a nationwide shortage of mathematics teachers.