Graduate Studies and Teaching
For six years, following his graduation from SWTSTC, Bing taught in Texas public schools and coached football, basketball, and track. During the summers, he attended The University of Texas at Austin, earning a master’s degree in education in 1938. While at UT, he enrolled in a course taught by R.L. Moore, known for his work in topology and the Moore method of teaching university mathematics. Bing was inspired and encouraged by Moore to become a mathematician.
"As a high school teacher, while attending summer school, and with no particular guidance, I enrolled in a course on the Foundations of Geometry under Dr. Moore. I found this course one with much intellectual challenge and mathematical content. Now any student is fortunate when he has as a teacher a creative researcher, and I was doubly fortunate in that I had both a master teacher and one who had helped develop the field." (Bing, Dedication of Robert Lee Moore Hall)
While he was a student at The University of Texas, Bing met his future wife, Mary Hobbs. R.H. and Mary Bing were married for 48 years and had four children: Robert H., Susan, Virginia, and Mary.
"I remember Mrs. Moore telephoning my wife, Mary, and telling her that she realized what a sacrifice my wife was making in order to make it possible for me to spend so much time on mathematics. I believe the word “sacrifice” came as a surprise to Mary who thought running a household was a 50-50 proposition. But being told by Mrs. Moore that a wife might enhance her husband’s career by letting him spend full time on it did have an impression. Mary has always been a big help in entertaining students, managing the family, and providing a pleasant environment."
Bing received his Ph.D. in 1945. He spent most of his career as a professor at the University of Wisconsin, where he began teaching in 1947. He did spend some time visiting other universities, including the University of Virginia. In 1973, Bing returned to Texas to teach at UT, joining the university as the highest paid professor in the state. Bing served as the chairman of the Mathematics Department and taught at UT until his retirement in 1985. By the end of his career, Bing had lectured at hundreds of colleges and universities in forty-nine states and seventeen countries.