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Joan Langdon

Mathematician and education administrator Joan Sterling Langdon was born on August 1, 1951 in Marion, South Carolina. After graduating from Hampton University with her B.A. degree in 1973, she enrolled in the College of William & Mary where she received her M.A. degree in 1977. Langdon went on to graduate from Old Dominion University with her M.S. degree in 1985, and American University with her Ph.D. degree in 1989.

Langdon began her career in higher education as an instructor at Rappahannock Community College in 1977. From 1979 to 1985, she was appointed instructor/lecturer at Hampton University where she also served as the first director of the Mathematics/Science Laboratory. After completing her doctorate at American University in 1989, Langdon joined the Bowie State University community as an Associate Professor in 1989. During her tenure at Bowie State University, she has served in several administrative positions, including as Director of the Summer Institute in Engineering and Computer Applications Program; Coordinator of the Computer Science program in the Department of Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Computer Science; and, as the Faculty Administrative Intern. In 1994, she initiated the Senior Year Progression and Transition Program (SYPAT) and served as coordinator of the program. While there, Langdon served as Founding Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. In 2006, she was appointed as Director of the Title III Program and Director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Langdon has also served as chair and/or as a member of numerous committees at Bowie State University and in the University System of Maryland. She was appointed as a curriculum, proposal, and paper reviewer for the Maryland State Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), respectively. In 1996, she was appointed to the ACM National Program Committee for SIGCSE. In addition, she has made presentations at all levels of higher education, participated in numerous workshops and conferences, published in conference proceedings, and developed software programs. She has also served as the principal investigator or co-principal investigator for several grants and sub-contracts, and has authored technical reports.

In 1999, Langdon received the ROTC Army Achievement Medal. Bowie State University honored her with the Distinguished Faculty Award in 2003 and the Distinguished Services Award for Outstanding and Dedicated Leadership in 2012. In 2007, she was awarded the NASA Administration Diversity Enhancement Award.

Langdon is married to Larry L. Langdon. They have four daughters: Tomaysa Sterling, Yvonne Langdon, Yvette Langdon, and Heather Langdon.

Joan Sterling Langdon was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 22, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.160

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/22/2013

Last Name

Langdon

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Sterling

Schools

American University

Old Dominion University

College of William and Mary

Hampton University

Bryn Mawr College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Joan

Birth City, State, Country

Marion

HM ID

LAN09

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Alaska

Favorite Quote

God bless the child who has his own.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

8/1/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fruit

Short Description

Math professor and education administrator Joan Langdon (1951 - ) , the Founding Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Bowie State University, also served as director of the Title III Program and Director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Employment

Bowie State University

American University

United States Census Bureau

Hampton Institute

Rappahannock Community College

York County Public Schools

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Joan Langdon's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Joan Langdon lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Joan Langdon describes her mother's family background - part one

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Joan Langdon describes her mother's family background - part two

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Joan Langdon talks about her maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Joan Langdon talks about her maternal grandmother's lineage and her grandfather's service in World War I

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Joan Langdon talks about his grandfather purchasing land in South Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Joan Langdon talks about her mother's growing up in Marion, South Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Joan Langdon describes her father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Joan Langdon describes her father's growing up on a farm, his livelihood as a farmer, and his purchase of land in Marion, South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Joan Langdon talks about her father's desire to become a brain surgeon, his aptitude for math, and her parents' home remedies for illnesses

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Joan Langdon describes how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Joan Langdon talks about church and about the name "Marion"

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Joan Langdon describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Joan Langdon describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Joan Langdon talks about her siblings - part one

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Joan Langdon talks about her siblings - part two

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Joan Langdon describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Joan Langdon talks about her interest in television as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Joan Langdon talks about reading her older siblings' textbooks

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Joan Langdon describes her experience in elementary school

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Joan Langdon talks about her interest in math in school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Joan Langdon talks about being removed from the Civil Rights Movement, segregation in South Carolina, and growing up attending segregated schools

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Joan Langdon describes her experience in middle school and high school - part one

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Joan Langdon describes her experience in middle school and high school - part two

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Joan Langdon talks about the teachers who influenced her in school, and her decision to attend Hampton University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Joan Langdon talks about her initial experience at Hampton University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Joan Langdon talks about her mentors, Geraldine Darden and Genevieve Knight at Hampton University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Joan Langdon talks about her social experience at Hampton University and the teachers who influenced her confidence in school and college

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Joan Langdon talks about the encouragement that she received from her math teacher, Geraldine Darden, at Hampton University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Joan Langdon talks about her academic performance at Hampton University

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Joan Langdon talks about her experience of taking a computer science class at Hampton University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Joan Langdon talks about getting married, graduating from Hampton University, and pursuing graduate studies at The College of William and Mary

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Joan Langdon talks about teaching mathematics at Rappahannock Community College and at Hampton University

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Joan Langdon talks about attending Old Dominion University for her master's degree in computer science

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Joan Langdon talks about the evolution of computer science in the 1980s and later

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Joan Langdon talks about how she decided to pursue her Ph.D. degree in computer science at American University

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Joan Langdon discusses her experience in the Ph.D. program in computer science at American University and African American female Ph.D.s

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Joan Langdon talks about Dr. Mary Gray and her class of African American female graduates at American University

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Joan Langdon talks about balancing her family life and children with graduate school at American University

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Joan Langdon talks about the success of the Patricia Roberts Harris Fellowship program at American University while she was there

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Joan Langdon talks about her doctoral dissertation at American University

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Joan Langdon talks about Bowie State University

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Joan Langdon talks about STEM education at Bowie State University, and her involvement with the SIECA program

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Joan Langdon talks about receiving the NASA Diversity Award

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Joan Langdon talks about serving on the University of Maryland System Chancellor's Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Joan Langdon talks about the Maryland Collaborative for Teacher Preparation

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Joan Langdon talks about becoming a full professor at Bowie State University and her involvement in professional mathematical societies

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Joan Langdon talks about her work-load at Bowie State University

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Joan Langdon talks about serving as the dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Bowie State University

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Joan Langdon talks about her involvement in the 'Writing Across the Curriculum' initiative

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Joan Langdon talks about her involvement with the military science department at Bowie State University

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Joan Langdon talks about serving as the interim director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at Bowie State University

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Joan Langdon talks about her involvement with the NASA Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program and other university programs

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Joan Langdon describes her service as the director of Title III programs at Bowie State University and as the acting director of the office of research

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Joan Langdon talks about the major sources of grants at Bowie State University

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Joan Langdon talks about African American doctoral graduates in the computer science department at Bowie State University

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Joan Langdon talks about her teaching and administrative responsibilities at Bowie State University

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Joan Langdon talks about her plans for the future

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Joan Langdon reflects upon her career and her choices

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Joan Langdon talks about her family

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Joan Langdon reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Joan Langdon describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Joan Langdon talks about attending the HERS program at Bryn Mawr College

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Joan Langdon talks about how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

2$1

DATitle
Joan Langdon talks about her father's desire to become a brain surgeon, his aptitude for math, and her parents' home remedies for illnesses
Joan Langdon talks about her initial experience at Hampton University
Transcript
Okay, I have to ask you this question. I have to go back to what your father's [Albert Moody] aspiration was to become a brain surgeon because it's a STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] aspiration, a science aspiration. Is there a story behind how he came up with that?$$Well, he liked working on animals, okay, and he decided he liked to do that. So on the farm he didn't have a whole lot of opportunities to do those things, because you had to do the manual stuff. But every opportunity that he got, he actually worked on the animals. So he worked--we had cows and we had swine, so, not so many goats, a goat was just there for people's pleasure, things like that. But if anything went wrong with them, he would work on them, and he liked doing that; didn't have the opportunity to work on people, but he never wanted to be a veterinarian. He said, he wanted to actually to be able to do those kinds of things on people, and he had a hard time, this is what he told us, he had a hard time when they told him that he had to stop going to school and actually start working because they needed him to work all day, making money. Before he stopped completely, he told us he would get up at four o'clock in the morning, he would go and work on the farm, then he would come back, eat and go to school. And then when he came home from school, he would get back out into the fields and work until dark, so you couldn't see. So he actually tried to prolong it by working early and by working late so he could go to school in between, but eventually that just didn't work, so he had to stop going to school.$$Okay. Now did your father or mother [Julia Ann Smalls] have a particularly high aptitude for math?$$My father did. Everything that he did on the farm, he did himself. When he laid out his acreage and made decisions on what the yield would be for the land--we planted cotton, corn, tobacco, wheat and lots of garden-related things, how much land you needed to plant for the yield that he wanted to make the amount of money, he figured all that out himself. In fact, I can tell you, one day when--this was after I was in college and went back. I used to go back home and work on the farm every summer. He was telling me how to figure out what to do with the land, how to get the yield that you wanted and how many acres and what you had to do. And it was amazing to me that he could do this, and he did it all in here (indicating head). He didn't--no calculators, no whatevers, he did it here (indicating), and he did a few things on paper, but mostly, he did it in here (indicating). Early on he helped us with our homework. So up to the point where he had gone to school, he helped us all do our work for grade school and the early part of grammar school. He's the one who helped us do our work. So, he could do those things. He surprised me because there were times I had to use the calculator to get it done.$$Okay. Like I said, you know, a brain surgeon is an aspiration, it seems like a pretty big aspiration, but he was already doing veterinary things. He had a sense that he could do something. Did he have any--did he know like the traditional herbal remedies for--$$Oh, my goodness, yes. We never went to the doctor, never went to the doctor until things were really, really serious, otherwise, between my mother and my father, we didn't go. Brewed us tea and drink it, you felt better, eat this, you felt better, making combinations of things so that you would have a medication that would solve the problem, that's all that they did. In fact, I can honestly tell you, I probably went to the doctor for the first time--somehow, I had low blood pressure and I was getting weak, and nobody could figure out why. That's the first time that I could remember having gone the doctor when I was growing up, first time. Other than that--$$How old were you?$$Early high school.$$Okay.$$Now, we went--you had to go for shots, you know what I mean.$$Vaccinations?$$Yeah, vaccinations and things like that, but I mean literally seeing a doctor, didn't do that, didn't have to, they gave us the remedies. We were okay.$$Okay.$All right, 1969, at Hampton University. Well, tell us about your first day at Hampton?$$Well, believe it or not, my first day was a little different than what people would expect. I had to go early, okay. So that means the first day we were supposed to arrive, it would have been on Monday. But my father's [Albert Moody] truck had problems, so we had to hire somebody to take me to school. So, literally, I had to go a day early. So they took me on Saturday, because the person who took us had to be at work on Monday and, of course, couldn't take me on Sunday. So, literally, my mom [Julia Ann Smalls] and one of our neighbors drove me to school on Saturday, and so there were only--and two other people had the same problem. So three of us were in the dorm that night, and the dorm mother was there. And when we showed up, of course, we surprised her to death, because of course we weren't supposed to be there. So we were there that day and the next day. And then on Monday, when we were actually supposed to be there to sign in and register and all of that stuff, so I was able to do that and my scholarships were all there in place, everything was there, and you know, well in those days we had a week of orientation. So we went around, we registered during that week, we learned the Hampton song, we found our other buildings that we were supposed to go to for our classes, we took our testing, we did all of those things within the first five days at Hampton, and I ended up actually taking two tests because I wanted to be a math major. So, to be a math major, I had to prove to them that I knew algebra inside and out, so they gave me this algebra test to take to prove to them that I knew some, and so I did, I to a test, extra test, you took the first one and then you had to take the second one.$$Okay. Okay, so you qualified to become a math major?$$Yes.

William A. Hawkins

Program director and math professor William Anthony Hawkins, Jr. was born in Washington, D.C. in 1947. His father, William Anthony Hawkins, Sr., was a postal worker; his mother, Amanda L. Hawkins, a dental hygienist. After graduating from Archbishop Carroll High School in 1964, Hawkins briefly attended Merrimack College before transferring to Howard University. While there, he studied under Dr. Louise Raphael, Professor James Joseph, and Dr. Arthur Thorpe (physics) and went on to graduate with his B.S. degree in mathematics in 1968. In 1970, Hawkins received his M.S. degree in physics from Howard University and his M.A. degree in mathematics from the University of Michigan. He was awarded a Ford Foundation Fellowship while attending the University of Michigan where he studied under Dr. James S. Milne and graduated from there with his Ph.D. degree in mathematics in 1982.

Hawkins has dedicated over forty-three years to the education of minority students. In 1968, Hawkins was hired as a teacher at Cardozo High School in Washington, D.C., soon discovering his passion for teaching. In 1970, Hawkins was appointed as an instructor at Federal City College (University of the District of Columbia). He went on to serve as chair of the mathematics department of the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) for five years. In 1990, Hawkins took leave from his position as associate professor at UDC and became director of the Strengthening Underrepresented Minority Mathematics Achievement (SUMMA) Program at the Mathematical Association of America. SUMMA has raised more than $4 million to increase the representation of minorities in mathematics, science, and engineering and to improve the mathematics education of minorities. In 1995, Hawkins returned to UDC as an associate professor in the mathematics department while simultaneously directing the SUMMA program.

Hawkins authored Attracting Minorities into Teaching Mathematics 1994, and Constructing a Secure Pipeline for Minority Students 1995. Hawkins is a member of the Mathematical Association of America, the National Association of Mathematicians, and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He received the 2006 Benjamin Banneker Legacy Award from the Banneker Institute of Science & Technology, and the 2013 Gung and Hu Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics from the Mathematical Association of America.

William Anthony Hawkins, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 17, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.159

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/17/2013

Last Name

Hawkins

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Anthony

Schools

University of Michigan

First Name

William

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

HAW03

Favorite Season

Fall

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

Ignorance is never bliss.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

9/15/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Rice (Curried)

Short Description

Program director and math professor William A. Hawkins (1947 - ) , former director of Strengthening Underrepresented Minority Mathematics Achievement (SUMMA) at the Mathematical Association of America, received the 2013 Gung and Hu Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics.

Employment

University of the District of Columbia

Mathematical Association of America

Cardozo High School

Federal City College

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of William Hawkins' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - William Hawkins lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - William Hawkins describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - William Hawkins describes his mother's growing up in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - William Hawkins talks about his mother's church, education and employment in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - William Hawkins describes his father's family background - part one

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - William Hawkins describes his father's family background - part two

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - William Hawkins talks about how his parents met and were married

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - William Hawkins describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - William Hawkins talks about his father's service in the U.S. Army

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - William Hawkins talks about his parents' education

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - William Hawkins talks about his paternal aunt, Sarah Bray

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - William Hawkins describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - William Hawkins talks about his father's employment at the U.S. Post Office

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - William Hawkins talks about the neighborhoods he lived in and the schools he attended in Washington, District of Columbia

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - William Hawkins talks about his experience in school, and his interests and activities as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - William Hawkins talks about how Washington, D.C. was while he was growing up, and its evolution over the years

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - William Hawkins talks about his experience in school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - William Hawkins talks about his high school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - William Hawkins talks about the 1960 presidential elections and the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - William Hawkins describes his experience in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - William Hawkins describes his experience at Merrimack College

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - William Hawkins describes being in a car accident in Washington, D.C. and his decision to attend Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - William Hawkins describes his experience at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - William Hawkins describes his involvement with the SNCC in the summer of 1966, meeting Stokely Carmichael, and returning to Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - William Hawkins talks about graduating from Howard University in 1968

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - William Hawkins talks about getting a deferment on the draft, and his decision to pursue graduate studies at the University of Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - William Hawkins talks about his involvement with the National Technical Association (NTA)

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - William Hawkins talks about pursuing his master's degree in physics at Howard University and his master's degree in math at the University of Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - William Hawkins talks about mathematicians, Euphemia Lofton Haynes, Evelyn Boyd Granville, Marjorie Lee Browne, and David Blackwell

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - William Hawkins talks about his involvement in political activism at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - William Hawkins talks about the Ishango Society of Mathematics and Abdulalim Shabazz

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - William Hawkins talks about his mentors at the University of Michigan - part one

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - William Hawkins talks about his mentors at the University of Michigan - part two

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - William Hawkins talks about his doctoral dissertation in the area of algebraic geometry

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - William Hawkins talks about his interest in teaching

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - William Hawkins talks about his involvement in the Mathematical Association of America (MAA)

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - William Hawkins talks about the need for a public university such as the University of the District of Columbia (UDC)

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - William Hawkins talks about the demographics of the faculty at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC)

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - William Hawkins discusses historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the United States

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - William Hawkins talks about the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) and the department of mathematics there

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - William Hawkins reflects upon the higher education system in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - William Hawkins talks about his involvement with the Mathematics Association of America (MAA) and its SUMMA Program

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - William Hawkins talks about pre-college programs for underrepresented minorities in mathematics

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - William Hawkins talks about the Mathematical Association of America's (MAA) National Research Experience for Undergraduates Program (NREUP)

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - William Hawkins talks about the importance and impact of summer undergraduate research programs and summer programs in math and science

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - William Hawkins talks about the administrative process for running the National Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program (NREUP)

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - William Hawkins discusses minority Ph.D.s in mathematics

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - William Hawkins talks about HistoryMaker Luther Williams and other minorities at the National Science Foundation (NSF)

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - William Hawkins describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community today

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - William Hawkins describes his experience at a Southern Christian Leadership Conference march in Grenada, Mississippi in 1966

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - William Hawkins talks about the importance of access to math and science

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - William Hawkins talks about the importance of being able to read and comprehend information

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - William Hawkins reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - William Hawkins reflects upon undergraduate education and its role in facilitating economic equality

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - William Hawkins talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - William Hawkins reflects upon religion and science, and the importance of fairness

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - William Hawkins talks about his parents and his mother's apprehension towards his visit to the South during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - William Hawkins talks about how he would like to be remembered

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William Hawkins talks about his interest in teaching
William Hawkins talks about his mentors at the University of Michigan - part one
Transcript
Your Ph.D. dissertation [at University of Michigan], like, plunged you deeper into math, even though it was nothing groundbreaking--$$Oh, sure. Well, I mean--$$--but it really.$$Oh, it certainly. I mean, because you have to do something original to get your Ph.D. So, I mean it was a problem that my advisor had thought of, you know. He said, he would think about something for me to work on. And if he had came up with something good to me--this was sort of the situation. If he could come up with something good, then he would, you know, he might take me, 'cuz he didn't promise to take me on as a student. And anyway, he was gone. He was going to be gone. He went to France for a year. He liked to climb mountains, too. I was always worried that he wouldn't be able to come back, you know, wouldn't continue. But anyway. So, you know, the idea was that--and I liked, you know, what is--I liked algebra. Some people like analysis, which is sort of calculus and its derivations, you might say. And I liked that a lot, but I liked algebra more so. Like, I say, you know, group theory and things like that, I just ended up liking that more, much more than I liked even geometry. I liked geometry in high school and stuff, but this--. So, you know, and people, you know, what I guess students don't realize, basically, you are paid to do something you enjoy when you're, especially a graduate faculty member. I mean, you know, you, if you can get it, you can get it published. Now, I know things are changing, but if you can get it published, you know, get your peers to say this is something of significance, then you are basically paid to do what you want. I mean, you know. I mean, you have to teach classes, but, you know the research institutions, they teach the subjects that they want to teach. You know, they teach about their own research or things that they're interested in. So, I mean, nothing like higher education for a job. I mean, you're just paid to do what you want to do, you know. So I--that's one thing I've--I mean, I've enjoyed. I've enjoyed teaching. I haven't always taught. I left to go back to graduate school. So that was five years I was away. Then I came here full time, five years to the MAA [Mathematics Association of America]. And then I went back, you know. And I've actually included--took me a long time to realize. You know, I like teaching an awful lot, you know. And that's what I've certainly done most of my life. I've been doing it--so, I mean, I first started teaching, in terms of professionally, in 1969. That's a long time. That's 40, you know, 44 years, 45 years, you know.$I can say someone whom I thought was--what's his name? What's Ullman's last name? I mean that's his last name. What's his first name? Anyway, the person who was on my committee was someone I found that, underneath a rough, very rough surface exterior was someone who cared about students. He was actually--let see if I can get the name. (pause). I can't think of his name. He was at--'cuz when you went to Baton Rouge [Louisiana], right, to see Lovenia [DeConge-Watson, also a HistoryMaker], a Rogers Newman was on the faculty. I don't know if you spoke to him. He was a student at Michigan. His advisor was someone on my committee and was someone who was very hard to convince, even though he had had a black student, that things needed to change. Let's put it like that. I'll just, you know, he thought. But he was very--he had a very, very rough exterior, but really helpful to me. And I would not have finished probably graduate school without him, right. Even though he didn't teach me or anything, but he made contacts for me that I didn't know I needed to make, you know. He and I argued for an whole hour one day. Back and forth, back and forth, in his office; back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. At the end of that argument, he said, "Okay. Now, how are things going with you?" I mean, you know. I told him what my plans were and the person I had thought about taking on as my--actually to be my advisor. And he told me, "Well, this person is getting ready to go on sabbatical." And what he did, he set up a program for me where I could work with someone else on--for my preliminary exam while this other person I wanted to work with is gone. And I--well, what happened, I would have gone the beginning of the next semester looking for this person, he would have been gone, and I would have been at a total loss. I wouldn't have known what to do. And he--so he set it up. And the person he got for me to work with--not my advisor--is the person who is now in the National Academy and a really good guy, you know. And let me see if I can get his name. I can't think of his name right now. I know who he is. I'll think of it. But he would---he supervised me on my prelims. Very, very helpful. He wasn't my advisor, but the idea that someone with whom you don't actually agree on things, cared enough to do something like that, that was--he was very--can't think of Ullman's--U-L-L-M-A-N. That was--that was his last name. I can't think of his first name. He's deceased now. But he was Rogers Newman's--Rogers Newman's, right, advisor. Right. And Rogers was on the faculty at Southern [University, Baton Rouge]. And he was a big--he was a very--he was the president of NAM [National Association of Mathematicians] for--executive secretary of NAM or president, I think, for a while. So, anyway--Dan. No, that's the guy who's at GW [George Washington University, Washington, District of Columbia] now.

Trachette Jackson

Mathematician and professor of mathematics Trachette Jackson was born on July 24, 1972. She attended a large public high school and spent her summers at a math-science honors program hosted by Arizona State University where she developed her passion for mathematics. Jackson was an excellent student and graduated in the top twenty of her class. In 1994, she received her B.S. degree in mathematics from Arizona State University. Jackson earned her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Washington in 1996 and 1998, respectively. Her Ph.D. thesis was entitled “Mathematical Models in Two-Step Cancer Chemotherapy.” She completed postdoctoral positions with the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications at the University of Minnesota, and at Duke University.

In 2000, Jackson joined the faculty at the University of Michigan as an assistant professor in the mathematics department. She was promoted to associate professor in 2003. In 2006, Jackson was appointed as the co-principal investigator of the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded University of Michigan SUBMERGE (Supplying Undergraduate Biology and Mathematics Education Research Group Experiences) program. SUBMERGE is an interdisciplinary program in math and biology that exposes undergraduates to experimental biology within mathematical modeling and gives exposure to quantitative analysis in biology courses. In 2008, she became a full professor in Michigan’s mathematics department. Jackson is the co-founder, and is the co-director, of the the Mathematics Biology Research Group (MBRG). The group organizes lectures, conferences, and workshops for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, among other activities. The main focus of her research in mathematical oncology is combining mathematical modeling and in vivo tumor vascularization to gain deeper understanding of tumor growth and the vascular structure of molecular, cellular and tissue levels.

Jackson has published numerous papers on the subject of mathematical oncology and her work has received international attention. In 2008, Jackson served as senior editor for the academic journal, Cancer Research, and has reviewed articles for the Journal of Mathematical Biology and the National Academy of Sciences. Jackson has received many awards including the Blackwell Tapia Award (2010) and the Arizona State University's Medallion of Merit Award. Trachette Jackson is married to Patrick Nelson and they have two sons, Joshua and Noah.

Trachette Jackson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on 10/22/2012.

Accession Number

A2012.184

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/22/2012

Last Name

Jackson

Middle Name

Levon

Schools

Arizona State University

University of Washington

Mesa High School

Powell Junior High School

First Name

Trachette

Birth City, State, Country

Monroe

HM ID

JAC31

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Warm

Favorite Quote

No matter how far the river flows, it never forgets it's source.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

7/24/1972

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Ann Arbor

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Southern Food

Short Description

Mathematician and math professor Trachette Jackson (1972 - ) , is the co-founder and co-director of the Mathematics Biology Research Group at the University of Michigan.

Employment

University of Michigan

Duke University

National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory

University of Minnesota

University of Washington, Department of Applied Mathematics

Arizona State University

Favorite Color

Mauve, Deep Purple

Timing Pairs
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9:144410,2087
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Trachette Jackson slates the interview and shares her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Trachette Jackson talks about her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Trachette Jackson talks about her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Trachette Jackson talks about her parents and siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Trachette Jackson talks about her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Trachette Jackson talks about her experiences growing up with her family who moved a lot

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Trachette Jackson talks about growing up in Italy

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Trachette Jackson talks about her teenage years and academic interests

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Trachette Jackson shares her experience as a minority in the academic setting

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Trachette Jackson talks about her high school experience

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Trachette Jackson talks about her experience at Arizona State University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Trachette Jackson talks about her college experience

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Trachette Jackson talks about her graduate school experience

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Trachette Jackson talks about her doctoral research at the University of Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Trachette Jackson talks about her husband, son and her post-doctoral experience at the University of Minnesota

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Trachette Jackson talks about her post-doctoral research at Duke University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Trachette Jackson talks about her career at the University of Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Trachette Jackson talks about the focus of her career research

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Trachette Jackson describes how she spends her work day

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Trachette Jackson talks about the SUBMERGE Program at the University of Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Trachette Jackson talks about her CCMB Pilot Grant funding

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Trachette Jackson talks about the SIAM association and her professional activities

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Trachette Jackson talks about her professional activities and reflects on her career

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Trachette Jackson reflects on the impact of her career and talks about her hopes and concerns for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Trachette Jackson talks about her family and how she would like to be remembered

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Trachette Jackson talks about her doctoral research at the University of Washington
Trachette Jackson talks about the SUBMERGE Program at the University of Michigan
Transcript
Okay. Now I hear that you published a paper, your first professional publication, in 1997 called Population Dynamics and Competition in Chemostat Models with Adaptive Nutrient Uptake.$$Yeah, yeah. So this is the work that I started as an undergraduate at Arizona State University with Betty Tang, and it was sort of looking at a chemostat model of bacteria which was designed to, you know, look at-- sort of resemble what would happen in the stomach or in the gut in terms of bacteria uptake. And so we did some different nutrient applications to see how the bacteria would survive and how they would thrive if they had different conditions within that setting, and that was my first publication.$$Okay. So were you then--like you're measuring the--you're trying to come up with a--I guess a rate of growth of bacteria?$$Right. So one of the inputs into the model is how bacteria--the rate of bacteria growth, but there's all kinds of influences on that rate of growth. And one thing is, you know, the space they have available, the amount of nutrients they have available, how many other bacteria are around them, so competition--all of these things feed into that eventual growth rate. And so we were track and time the population's changes based on all of these influences on how the rate of change is affected.$$Okay. Okay. I know I've heard it said that some of these modern anti-bacterial applica--sprays and--(simultaneous)$$--and so (unclear) and all of--$$--yeah, create more space by killing general bacteria off, create more space for the more resistant bacteria --(simultaneous)$$--that's actually--it is true. So definitely they're a good thing to have, you know, these anti-bacteria's, but not to be used without caution I guess, because you are killing general bacteria and not all bacteria is bad. There are some good bacteria's that even in your stomach, in the lining of your stomach and intestines, some of the bacteria that's there is good. So you don't wanna kill off everything. It's just certain bacteria's that are the dangerous ones that you don't need in your system.$$Right, right. Okay, so I guess--you finished your PhD and your work in '97' [1997]? Is that true?$$Ah, '98' [1998]. I got my PhD in '98' [1998].$$--(simultaneous) '98' [1998]? Okay. And tell us about your dissertation. We have a title here. I guess--this is the Theoretical Analysis of Conjugate Localization in Two-Step Cancer Chemotherapy, with a brief yet detailed description of how tumors can form an afflicted--in an afflicted person's body.$$Yeah. So my dissertation came about in actually kind of a strange way. I was a graduate student looking around for different topics that I thought would be interesting to work on. I knew I wanted to do something in cancer, and so I went and researched and looked around the Seattle [Washington] area to see who's doing cancer chemotherapy, who's doing something that might be amenable to mathematical modeling, and I found a group at a bio--pharmaceutical company, I guess. And they were sort of developing these new drugs, a new drug targeting strategy for cancer chemotherapy, and they came in and the lead guy's name was Peter Center. He came in and gave a talk in our Applied Math department, and immediately I knew, based on what he had said, that this is something that I thought I could use my skills as a mathematical model or mathematician, to sort of address. So we started collaborating on trying to figure out the best way to administer these targeting strategies. So what these are is--so traditional chemotherapy, you know, you inject some drug into your body. This drug is supposed to act on cells that are rapidly dividing like cancer cells would be, but they cannot distinguish if those cells that are rapidly dividing are your hair cells or other cells in your body. So it destroys cells in general. The idea behind the mechanisms of the therapies they wanted to give were to target--sort of this magic bullet idea, of targeting the cancer cells specifically, and leaving all the other cells alone. So what they wanted to do was give--first inject the patient with a pro drug, a drug that's not harmful to any other cells in the body, but that drug would find tumor cells. So it would bind particular markers that only exist on tumor cells. And then they would give an enzyme, again, completely non-toxic enzyme, that only when it found the pro drug would catalyze a reaction that made a drug. So the idea is that the pro drug finds the cancer and marks it, highlights it in red, and then the enzyme goes directly there and only there does it catalyze a reaction that makes drug. So you make drug at a tumor site instead of injecting drug throughout the body. So we developed an extensive set of equations to model the delivery of these to anti-cancer agents, the reaction that makes the drug, the binding and targeting of the tumor cells, and we were able to come up with some special optimal situations where you get more drug created in the tumor than you do in the blood, and we could say what kinds of treatment strategies, you know, how much should you give, how long should you wait to give the next dose, all of those kinds of things based on these mathematical models. So we could make predictions about those kinds of things. So that was kinda the crux of my dissertation was modeling this new therapy for cancer.$$Okay. Okay. So you received your PhD in 1998, right?$$Em hm.$$And now, did you do a--your advisor was James Murray?$$He was, he was, yeah.$Okay. Okay. Now in 2006, you received a National Science Foundation grant for University of Michigan SUBMERGE Program.$$Yeah.$$Can you tell us what SUBMERGE [Supplying Undergraduate Biology and Mathematics Education and Research Group Experience] is about?$$Yeah. So SUBMERGE is about merging the subjects of mathematics and biology for undergraduates and this came about because of, you know, my love for undergraduate education and I'd had several undergraduate students who'd worked with me over the summers who were very very good. And I just wanted a mechanism to support more students in this way, give more students the opportunity to really get a hands-on knowledge of mathematical biology early on. So, together with some other faculty on campus, we put in a proposal to have a--to develop research groups of undergraduates where they would work in teams. We would have students from mathematics and students from biology paired up with faculty from mathematics and faculty from biology, so we'd have this inter-disciplinary mix of students and faculty and they'd work together on long-term projects. Not just during the summer but during the academic year, and really sort of get an idea of--give the students an idea of how to talk to each other from different disciplines, how to work together on an inter-disciplinary project, and how to make progress on something within math biology. Hopefully, leading towards a publication for them.$$Okay. Okay. So that was (unclear) so did they publish--$$Yeah, so we had--we had cohorts of four to eight students come in every year, and the program has been really really successful. Almost all teams that have worked through the program have published a paper. Our first group that came through in around 2006, 2007, many of them went off to medical school. The ones that didn't go to medical school got into very good graduate schools, we had several best poster prizes at national conferences, so the students and their research was very well-received and we're very proud of the students who came through the program.

Floyd Williams

Research professor and mathematician Floyd Leroy Williams was born on September 20, 1939 in Kansas City, Missouri. Born into and raised in an impoverished environment, his mother was a constant source of encouragement. She reminded him not to complain about their situation, but rather to maintain faith in God and always work hard. Ironically, as a high school student Williams excelled in music rather than mathematics. One week prior to graduating high school he was offered a scholarship from Lincoln University of Missouri in Jefferson City to study music. During his sophomore year, Williams was fascinated by Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and eventually became fully immersed in the study of mathematics.

In 1962, Williams graduated from Lincoln University with his B.S. degree in mathematics. He went on to receive advance degrees in mathematics from Washington University in St. Louis, earning his M.S. degree and Ph.D. degree in 1965 and 1972, respectively. His doctoral thesis was in the field of Lie Theory, a particular branch of mathematics that focuses on symmetry. Williams has worked in this field for the past twenty years and recently has begun to investigate mathematical physics.

From 1972 to 1975, Williams worked as a lecturer and instructor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as an associate instructor at the University of California-Irvine. He joined the faculty at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 1975 as an assistant professor. In 1978, he was promoted to associate professor and since 1984 he has been a full professor. Williams was awarded a National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation grant in 1983 to continue his research.

Williams is internationally renowned for his pioneering research in Lie Theory and mathematical physics. He served as visiting professor at a number of universities across the United States and the world, including the State University of New York-Stonybrook; Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan; the State Technical University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and the Institute of Theoretical Physics in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Williams’ scholarship is prolific, and his work has appeared in scholarly journals such as Topics in Quantum Mechanics and Mathematical Methods in Physics. Since 2005, he served as Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Floyd L. Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on 10/08/2012.

Accession Number

A2012.215

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/8/2012

Last Name

Williams

Middle Name

Leroy

Organizations
Schools

Washington University in St Louis

Lincoln University

Benjamin Banneker Elementary School

R.T. Coles Vocational Junior High School

Manual High & Vocational School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Floyd

Birth City, State, Country

Kansas University

HM ID

WIL60

Favorite Season

March, April,, May

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

People don't care about how much you know until they know how much you care.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

9/20/1939

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Amherst

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salmon

Short Description

Mathematician and math professor Floyd Williams (1939 - )

Employment

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

University of California, Irvine

Delete

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:17926,201:21208,238:25758,290:26148,296:26772,305:27318,314:29892,375:62316,742:62581,843:80770,1020:84466,1094:85138,1110:87940,1118$0,0:3960,44:4350,51:8590,87:9780,99:10375,107:10715,112:15730,201:39554,613:40082,627:40412,633:40808,640:41930,661:49177,792:49582,798:50878,819:65866,962:66468,971:67242,981:67586,997:72660,1180:75412,1217:86284,1359:86812,1369:99995,1519:103920,1610:110880,1720:139884,2111:161184,2357:161408,2362:164745,2400:165595,2410:184645,2632:185070,2639:185665,2647:186430,2658:189660,2699:190000,2704:196850,2738:201090,2817:201410,2825:201970,2833:203250,2850:207227,2867:207917,2883:208814,2899:209435,2911:216896,3003:220517,3080:220943,3118:229060,3196:229460,3202:260156,3523:262760,3547:263180,3558:263420,3563:263840,3572:264320,3581:264560,3586:265810,3594:281410,3656:281860,3662:291773,3815:300432,3921:302700,3981:308760,4035
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Floyd Williams' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Floyd Williams lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Floyd Williams describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Floyd Williams talks about his family's interests in music

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Floyd Williams talks about his biological father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Floyd Williams describes his stepfather

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Floyd Williams describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Floyd Williams talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Floyd Williams describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Floyd Williams describes his growing up on Ninth Street in Kansas City, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Floyd Williams describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Floyd Williams talks about his interests in music and his growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Floyd Williams talks about his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Floyd Williams talks about his involvement in the church

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Floyd Williams describes his musical preferences

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Floyd Williams describes his high school experience

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Floyd Williams talks about his high school mentor, Dr. Wheeler

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Floyd Williams talks about his mentor, Dr. Wheeler

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Floyd Williams reflects on his high school years

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Floyd Williams talks about Lincoln University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Floyd Williams describes how Albert Einstein's theory of relativity inspired his interest in mathematics

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Floyd Williams talks about his mentor, Dr. Talbert

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Floyd Williams talks about his experience at Washington University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Floyd Williams talks about his struggles through graduate school

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Floyd Williams describes his dissertation

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Floyd Williams talks about being hired at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Floyd Williams remembers the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and President John F. Kennedy

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Floyd Williams describes his experience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Floyd Williams talks about cohomology theory

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Floyd Williams talks about his decision to join the faculty at the University of Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Floyd Williams talks about his interest in music

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Floyd Williams talks about his professional activities

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Floyd Williams explains Lie Theory

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Floyd Williams describes the difference in attitudes towards STEM education in Japan and the United States

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Floyd Williams talks about his professional activities

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Floyd Williams describes his teaching philosophy

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Floyd Williams reflects on his career

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Floyd Williams talks about what led him to join the ministry

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Floyd Williams talks about his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Floyd Williams talks about his family

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Floyd Williams reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Floyd Williams talks about the problem with U.S. mathematical education

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Floyd Williams reflects on how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Floyd Williams plays the piano and describes his photos

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

1$4

DATitle
Floyd Williams talks about his mentor, Dr. Wheeler
Floyd Williams describes how Albert Einstein's theory of relativity inspired his interest in mathematics
Transcript
So Dr. Wheeler helped you get into college, right?$$Yes. I must say that it was, I guess, the last day of high school, he came up to me and asked me did I want to go to college--would I like to go to college, and I more or less said no, because I thought--I mean I was so naive, I thought after thirteen years of school, I didn't need to go college, but I also thought that college was for rich people or Caucasian students, so it was not anything on my radar scope, and I think he had to convince me to take a music scholarship to go to Lincoln University [Jefferson City, Missouri]. And I'm glad that he did convince me. I mean, I certainly would not have gone to college had it not been for his prompting.$$So he had to convince you to take a scholarship? He had a scholarship for you, and you still, well.$$Well, it wasn't so much the scholarship, it was just about college. I mean the word college, you know, growing up, I mean, we just--we didn't have any peers--I didn't know anyone in my family who went to college. None of my friends ever went to college. We had no examples of people going to college.$Okay. Now, at some point, I guess, in this story, mathematics comes back up. How did mathematics reenter your life?$$Yeah, that's interesting, because as I always say, I had been so naive even going back to when I went to play the trumpet, because I saw my brother's saxophone with all kind of notes on it, and I saw the trumpet with three notes, so I thought it would be easy to learn to play the trumpet. Not noticing it was three vowels, but I was so naive, I didn't know the difference. But anyway, I got interested, for some reason, in [Albert] Einstein's theory of relativity [special relativity] and I thought, if I could master mathematics, I could master Einstein's relativity theory. So that was one of the things that really prompted me.$$Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but in those days, the epitome of genius was Albert Einstein?$$And even nowadays, yes. I mean, the theory of relativity is the pillar after [Sir Isaac] Newton.$$Okay. So, and that was something that, you know, everybody, you know, could quote, even though they didn't know what it meant, E equal MC square [E=MC^2, where E is energy, M is mass and C is the speed of light], right?$$That's the special theory, but the--I have much more interest in the general theory, which is not--which is much harder and which people wouldn't understand.$$How were you introduced to the theory of relativity?$$I came across a book by Lincoln Barnett, a man name Lincoln Barnett. I have it over here someplace. It's called, "Dr. Einstein and the Universe". It's somewhat amazing because I don't read, I'm not much of a reader. Somehow that book inspired me. I'm just saying if you could learn just a little bit of algebra, you could understand this point. He just carries you on and on; you could understand a little bit of trigonometry, you could understand this point, and if you could understand--learn a little bit of geometry, you could understand this point; just led us on and on. And it was kind of a thin book to read, so one of the few books that I've read. I don't read many books. That book really inspired me to learn about Einstein's relativity theory.$$Okay.$$And then because I'd heard all these magic stories about a poem that--there was a lady name Miss Bright who could travel faster than the speed of light. She went away one day in her (unclear) way, and came back the proceeding night. So things like that spurred my imagination.$$I've never heard that before.$$I understand now how she came back; how she went one day and came back the proceeding night, I understand it now, on the basis of special relativity.$$Okay. Did you take a physics course, or anything?$$Yes. As I said, I got a very late start. My freshman and sophomore years, I studied music. I mean, I continued to study music. So, in my junior year, I started with algebra and trigonometry. I just doubled up everything, and physics, as well. I just became crazy. I started studying--$$You didn't take algebra until you were a junior in college?$$Yes. That's what I'm saying, I got such a late start; I should have had--I mean nowadays, you have calculus in high school. But that was a--quite a different time. So my first course was algebra and trigonometry at the same time. Then the next semester, I took analytic geometry and--I mean introduction to calculus, and I took two more calculus courses. There's a three calculus course sequence.$$This all as a senior?$$As a junior and a senior. But you see, I went--I believe I went an extra year and a half; it was five and a half years to graduate from college because of the very late start.$$Okay. Are you doing well in these courses?$$Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, I mean, I was a changed person. I meant, the first time in my--well, I was very good in music, of course, but it was the first time that I had another subject that fascinated me the way that jazz music did, and I knew I had to double up, because I was going to be a master of Einstein. Again, that was naivete, but it prompted me, you know.

Raymond L. Johnson

Mathematician Raymond L. Johnson was born on June 25, 1943 in Alice, Texas, a small town near Corpus Christi. He was raised by his mother Johnnie Johnson, his maternal grandmother Ethel Pleasant Johnson, and her second husband Benjamin Thompson. Growing up, it was Benjamin Thompson who taught Johnson how to read and do some arithmetic. This sparked an early interest in mathematics and allowed Johnson to skip the first two grades. Johnson attended a two room schoolhouse because the nearby grade school was segregated. With the help of his mentors, Larry O’Rear and Stan Brooks, Johnson excelled in high school mathematics. He went on to major in mathematics and received his B.A. degree from the University of Texas in 1963.

Once again, with the help and encouragement of a great mentor, Dr. Howard Curtis, Johnson applied and became one of the first African Americans to be admitted to Rice University. Two alumni sued the university to stop Johnson’s entrance, but within the year, Rice University won the case. Johnson became a regular student, graduating with his Ph.D. degree in mathematics in 1969. After college, Johnson started his forty year career at the University of Maryland in College Park, becoming the first African American faculty member in the mathematics department. He began as an assistant professor in 1968 and became a full professor in 1980.

Johnson served as chair of the graduate studies department at the University of Maryland from 1987 to 1990. As chair, he founded several programs to eliminate barriers for minority students and to help increase the number of minorities and women in the Ph.D. program in mathematics. He received a Distinguished Minority Faculty Award for his work. Johnson was promoted to chair of the mathematics department in 1991, a position he held for five years. Johnson’s mathematical work has focused in the area of harmonic analysis, the study of overlapping waves, which has roots in functions related to trigonometry. He has contributed to over twenty-five publications on mathematics research. Johnson’s current research focuses on applying harmonic analysis to study spectral synthesis. In 2007, Johnson was honored with the Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2009, Johnson returned to Rice University to serve as a visiting professor. He has one son, Malcolm P. Johnson.

Raymond L. Johnson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 17, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.193

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/17/2012

Last Name

Johnson

Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

L

Schools

Dubose Intermediate

Carver Elementary

William Adams High School

University of Texas at Austin

Rice University

First Name

Raymond

Birth City, State, Country

Alice

HM ID

JOH41

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Europe

Favorite Quote

Don't look back. Someone might be gaining on you.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

6/25/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Houston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

Mathematician and math professor Raymond L. Johnson (1943 - ) led the way for minority scientists by breaking through barriers and serving as a mentor. He is known for his research on harmonic analysis and spectral synthesis.

Employment

University of Maryland, College Park

Rice University

Howard University

ESSO PRDD RES

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:3932,40:4336,45:14248,198:19240,343:19752,358:20584,383:20904,389:22056,421:22696,432:24360,479:24744,493:30828,557:31158,563:31554,574:35646,666:38484,724:46572,844:47694,884:53080,986:53610,1007:53875,1013:54140,1020:54511,1028:54935,1039:55147,1045:56419,1075:57691,1113:81970,1481:83570,1658:84210,1667:95362,1799:101581,1831:118144,2186:118540,2193:119002,2202:119464,2228:120784,2262:121048,2267:122038,2288:122830,2303:123424,2327:128638,2480:139286,2623:139700,2645:147840,2757:148980,2776:150360,2889:161820,3154:162900,3179:163560,3194:173308,3287:185697,3529:189055,3613:191318,3650:192048,3663:193143,3683:193654,3696:204320,3836$0,0:3165,82:5960,168:8040,231:9470,259:9730,264:10185,272:10965,290:12785,337:22852,541:25690,605:30178,755:30838,768:37690,817:38950,861:40750,921:42790,1016:43210,1026:47784,1077:48894,1097:49264,1103:49782,1112:50078,1117:50522,1130:50966,1137:53260,1188:55110,1233:55776,1247:56220,1259:59402,1327:59698,1333:59994,1339:69124,1467:69392,1472:74350,1648:76628,1680:80715,1803:82591,1841:82993,1848:83395,1855:83998,1871:85070,1934:97691,2107:98160,2120:98562,2127:101175,2184:102314,2215:114356,2436:115742,2467:117656,2513:119372,2556:123080,2571:127505,2682:129155,2718:129455,2723:131255,2753:131555,2758:136560,2848
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Raymond Johnson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Raumond Johnson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Raymond Johnson describes his mother's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Raymond Johnson describes his mother's life in Alice, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Raymond Johnson discusses similarities and differences from his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Raymond Johnson describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Raymond Johnson describes growing up in Alice, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Raymond Johnson describes the sights and sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Raymond Johnson describes his family in Alice, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Raymond Johnson describes his early school-days

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Raymond Johnson describes his experience in a newly-integrated school system

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Raymond Johnson describes growing up during segregation

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Raymond Johnson discusses the sports heroes of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Raymond Johnson describes those who influenced his decision to attend college

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Raymond Johnson describes his experience in high-school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Raymond Johnson describes his experience at the University of Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Raymond Johnson describes his experience with the American Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Raymond Johnson describes the mentorship he received in high school and college

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Raymond Johnson describes the post-Sputnik climate in the United States

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Raymond Johnson shares pleasant memories from the University of Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Raymond Johnson describes the summer of 1963

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Raymond Johnson describes his first year at Rice University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Raymond Johnson shares his thoughts on the presidencies of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Raymond Johnson describes his relationship with NFL player, Frank Ryan

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Raymond Johnson describes his experiences at Rice University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Raymond Johnson describes his experience with his graduate advisor, Jim Douglas

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Raymond Johnson describes his Ph.D. dissertation research

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Raymond Johnson describes his transition from graduate school to his first job

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Raymond Johnson describes the tension following Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Raymond Johnson describes his experience at the University of Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Raymond Johnson describes his brief experience at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Raymond Johnson describes his service as the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Raymond Johnson describes his service as the chairman of the mathematics department

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Raymond Johnson describes collaboration among African American mathematicians

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Raymond Johnson discusses prominent African American mathematicians

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Raymond Johnson talks about his family

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Raymond Johnson talks about the Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Raymond Johnson talks about the first generation of African American mathematicians

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Raymond Johnson reflects upon his legacy at the University of Maryland and at Rice University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Raymond Johnson describes one of his successes as a mentor

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Raymond Johnson discusses meeting Ron [Ronald] Walters

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Raymond Johnson reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Raymond Johnson discusses his concerns for African American mathematicians

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Raymond Johnson describes his relationship with Freeman Hrabowski

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Raymond Johnson talks about his son

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Raymond Johnson's reflects upon how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$2

DAStory

5$1

DATitle
Raymond Johnson describes his experience in high-school
Raymond Johnson describes his experience in a newly-integrated school system
Transcript
Okay, now, I don't wanna get you out of high school yet.$$Okay.$$But we'll go back to, to high school [at Williams Adams High School, Alice, Texas] for a second. Now, did you, were you involved in clubs and stuff in high school or run for student government or--$$No, not for student government. But I was involved in clubs. So this is the National Honor Society, 'cause I mean I think that was, I don't know what the conditions were for getting in it, but, you know, I was a member of the National Honor Society. And that's where I met like, you know, other people who were very, very smart and who also were very competitive. I mean, you know, I remember the competition for valedictorian, for example, of Alice High School. I was not involved in the competition, but I was observing it. And, you know, having people sort of take easy classes and try to make sure they could keep their grade point average up and have a better chance of being valedictorian. I mean I remember that was sort of the first time I learned about, you know, that sort of social aspect of learning. I thought you just went to school and you did the best you could and, you know, and you graduated, and then you go on and keep doing the best you can. But there were actually these people who were competing to be valedictorian.$$Okay, and--$$And they were all in National Honor Society.$$And strategizing what kind of class they're gonna take to--$$Yeah, yeah.$$--to get there.$$--to make sure that they had the highest GPA [Grade Point Average].$$Okay,--$$And no socializing. I mean, you know, I don't remember prom, you know, or anything like that. But did go to the football games for the Alice Coyotes, you know, football team. It was a long walk, but, you know, it was worth it. And socializing in that sense.$$Okay. So the foot--the high school was named William Adams--$$William Adams, yeah, and the Alice Coyotes was the football team.$$Okay, so they, okay, all right. So they called the football team, not the Adams' Coyotes, but the Alice Coyotes?$$The Alice Coyotes.$$Okay (laughter), all right.$$It was for the whole city.$$All right. Now, football is, when you think of football, people think of Texas for some, you know, some reason.$$Yep, Friday night.$$High school, Friday night lights and all that sort of thing. So what, was it really big in Alice?$$Oh, yeah, yeah. I mean, well, first of all (laughter), there's nothing else to do in Alice, okay. So, I mean it was really big, and, you know, for a kid like me who didn't have any money, I mean getting into the game was non-trivial. I climbed a fence a few times to get into the game, but sometimes after halftime, they'd sort of let you into the game. So, you know, we, it wasn't, I don't remember like them saying, okay, because you go to, here, here's a free pass because you're a student at Alice High School. I mean there was supposed to be like a two dollar or dollar charge or something like that. So sometimes I'd just go to the game and wouldn't actually get to see the game. But the team, you know, I think they competed for the state championship. They had some very good players. I don't, don't remember their names or exactly how well they did, but they, they had a very good football team.$$Okay, any players make--$$The only one I remember, I think was a quarterback named Len Baillets (ph.), but, you know, I don't think he did very much in college or anything like that, but he was the star of the Alice football team.$$Okay, all right, so when you graduated, did you, did they tell you what rank you were or anything?$$You know, I was, I was the top ten. But that's all I remember. And, and that was the last graduation I attended. So I actually did go to my graduation in high school.$$Okay, but you didn't go to any of the rest of 'em?$$Nah.$Okay, yeah, tell us, now, what happened next in school now? You're, you're--$$So after eighth grade, Alice [Texas] didn't have enough black students, and so the Alice school district had an arrangement with the Kingsville [Texas] school district. So grades nine through twelve were bused from Alice to Kingsville which is twenty-eight miles, and I knew classmates who had ridden the bus and had gone to school in Kingsville. And I was looking forward to it 'cause in a sense, it's a chance to get out of Alice, at least for a, for a day, every day. But 'Brown versus Board' was decided, and the Alice school district decided to live up to it, accept 'Brown versus Board'. So I spent ninth grade in DuBoise [DuBoise Junior High School, Alice, Texas], which is the first time I'd gone to an integrated junior high school, I mean it was junior high school at that time. So you just went for ninth grade, and then high school was William Adams [Williams Adams High School, Alice, Texas], grade ten through twelve, which was also integrated.$$Okay.$$DuBoise was-I was, it was lucky for me in the sense that the main thing that I recall that happened to me at DuBoise was they discovered that I couldn't see. You know, in Alice, in this two-room school, the boards were very close, and so, you know, it was a very small room, four, four, four grades cramped into one room. So I didn't have any problem seeing everything. But then when I went to DuBoise, you're in this classroom, and, you know, there's thirty seats in a room and the board up at the front. And I couldn't see. So I got glasses, and that I think (laughter) helped a lot 'cause that meant I could see what was actually going on in class.$$Do you remember how you discovered, how, how it was discovered you couldn't see?$$No, I don't remember, but, you know, somehow I, I wasn't seeing what was on the board, and so they, they sent me, they told my, told my mother that I need to have an eye test. I had an eye test, and they discovered I needed glasses.$$So the teacher noticed it.$$Yeah, the teacher noticed it.$$Okay, all right. So, what was the racial makeup of--after integration for, I guess, DuBoise?$$You know, two or three blacks in a class of thirty, yeah, yeah, 'cause we, we were, it was a--there was a tight-knit black community, but it was very small. It was very small.$$Okay. And there wasn't a lot of rancor or problems, I guess, would you say?$$There was some resentment, you know. There were some kids who muttered some things and stuff like that, but, you know, mostly, it was uneventful. Let's say it like that. I mean, you know, the black kids would hang together, and the white kids still hung together. So it, it was more like two separate worlds that were colliding but really not paying much attention to each other. That's the way I recall it.

Eleanor Jones

Mathematician and professor of mathematics, Eleanor Jones was born on August 10, 1929 in Norfolk, Virginia. Her mother, Lillian Vaughn Green, was a domestic worker, and her father, George Herbert Green, was a letter carrier. She attended Booker T. Washington High School where her favorite subject was mathematics. Jones graduated as valedictorian of her class at the age of fifteen and received a scholarship to attend Howard University. Jones received her B.S. degree in mathematics in 1949. She studied under Elbert Cox, the first African American to receive his Ph.D. degree in mathematics. Jones remained at Howard University where she received her M.S. degree in mathematics in 1950. Then, she returned to Booker T. Washington High School as a mathematics and science teacher for two years.

Jones was hired in 1955 as an associate professor of mathematics at Hampton University. When schools in Norfolk, Virginia were closed in 1958 due to forced integration, Jones helped tutor students in a local church. That same year, she also became vice chair of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in Virginia. By 1962, Jones left Hampton to study mathematics at Syracuse University under the tutelage of Dr. James Reid. In 1965, she was elected to the Sigma Xi science honor society and went on to graduate from Syracuse University in 1966 as the eleventh African American woman to earn her Ph.D. degree in mathematics. Her thesis, entitled, “Abelian Groups and Their Endomorphism Rings and the Quasi-Endomorphism of Torsion Free Abelian Groups,” examined advanced abstract algebraic concepts. In 1967, Jones rejoined the faculty at Hampton University. One year later, she became professor of mathematics and chair of the department at Norfolk State University.

Jones retired as professor emeritus from Norfolk University in 2003. She served on the Committee for Opportunities for Underrepresented Minorities of the American Mathematical Society, the Executive board of the Association for Women in Mathematics and the Board of Governors for the Mathematical Association of America. Jones also held the position of vice president of the National Association of Mathematicians. She raised three sons, Everett B. Jones, Edward A. Dawley and the late Herbert G. Dawley.

Eleanor Jones was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 7, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.024

Sex

Female

Interview Date

2/7/2012

Last Name

Jones

Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Green Dawley

Schools

Booker T. Washington High School

Syracuse University

Douglass Park Elementary School

Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Eleanor

Birth City, State, Country

Norfolk

HM ID

JON26

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

All is well that ends well.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Virginia

Birth Date

8/10/1929

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Virginia Beach

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fruit, Vegetables

Short Description

Math professor and mathematician Eleanor Jones (1929 - ) was the eleventh African American woman to receive her Ph.D. degree in mathematics and served as professor of mathematics at Norfolk State University for over thirty years.

Employment

Booker T. Washington High School

Hampton University

Norfolk State University

ECPI College of Technology

Hampton Institute

Syracuse University

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:4356,70:20894,299:21362,304:21674,309:24716,352:34090,450:51692,655:65536,783:70599,842:71844,872:75247,919:77820,931:91600,1117:101716,1216:102111,1222:103533,1252:117150,1441:118050,1461:119700,1470$0,0:12376,97:14725,134:15373,143:15940,151:16750,162:17317,171:18127,186:23480,254:59966,572:60426,586:85808,886:96873,1025:97197,1030:98007,1043:98331,1048:99400,1055:101710,1092:103250,1118:116130,1278:125832,1475:128652,1528:148546,1728:149701,1754:160856,1896:170775,2019:172725,2051:173025,2056:175125,2096:177300,2136:192256,2282:207525,2495:208045,2510:208305,2552:217252,2605:217608,2610:218231,2621:226202,2674:226530,2679:227432,2693:228334,2707:229728,2731:230630,2743:231532,2755:232270,2766:235714,2811:236780,2826:240374,2847:240902,2861:241628,2873:242486,2888:249004,3011:255884,3105:256898,3121:273280,3242:273940,3258:274468,3267:275260,3280:288537,3435:289880,3458:297935,3577:307265,3668:307565,3673:330725,3957:331250,3965:332225,3975:333575,3992:338838,4039:339786,4056:344684,4147:370560,4338:383886,4468:401724,4715:412089,4768:421291,4909:533823,5916:544014,5988:560970,6137
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Eleanor Jones' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Eleanor Jones lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Eleanor Jones describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Eleanor Jones describes her mother's background - part one

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Eleanor Jones describes her mother's background - part two

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Eleanor Jones describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Eleanor Jones talks about her father's service in the U.S. Navy

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Eleanor Jones talks about her grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Eleanor Jones describes her father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Eleanor Jones describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Eleanor Jones describes Norfolk, Virginia as she grew up

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Eleanor Jones talks about her parents' personalities

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Eleanor Jones describes her family

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Eleanor Jones describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Eleanor Jones describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Eleanor Jones talks about her interests as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Eleanor Jones talks about Douglas Park Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Eleanor Jones describes her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Eleanor Jones talks about her experience at Booker T. Washington High School

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Eleanor Jones describes her social activities at Booker T. Washington High School

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Eleanor Jones talks about her decision to attend Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Eleanor Jones talks about pledging Delta Sigma Theta Sorority

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Eleanor Jones talks about the mystery surrounding her maternal grandfather

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Eleanor Jones describes the faculty at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Eleanor Jones talks about prominent people who spoke at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Eleanor Jones talks about Dr. Mordecai Johnson

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Eleanor Jones talks about her fellowship and her work with the census bureau

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Eleanor Jones talks about William S. Claytor and Jeremiah Certaine

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Eleanor Jones talks about her marriage to Edward Dawley, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Eleanor Jones talks about the Norfolk 17

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Eleanor Jones talks about Rosa Parks

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Eleanor Jones discusses her involvement with the Congress of Civil Rights (CORE)

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Eleanor Jones describes her divorce from Edward Dawley

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Eleanor Jones describes her experience at Syracuse University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Eleanor Jones describes her doctoral research

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Eleanor Jones talks about sports and her experience at Syracuse University

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Eleanor Jones discusses her experience teaching math

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Eleanor Jones describes her publication in American Mathematical Monthly

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Eleanor Jones talks about the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM)

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Eleanor Jones describes her efforts to attract female students to math and science

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Eleanor Jones talks about her retirement

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Eleanor Jones talks about her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Eleanor Jones shares her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Eleanor Jones reflects upon her career

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Eleanor Jones talks about her divorce from Everett Jones

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Eleanor Jones talks about her children

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Eleanor Jones talks about her hobbies

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Eleanor Jones talks about how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Eleanor Jones describes her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$5

DAStory

1$6

DATitle
Eleanor Jones describes her doctoral research
Eleanor Jones describes her efforts to attract female students to math and science
Transcript
All right. Now I was trying to get you to explain the nature of your dissertation. Now you--$$Well, okay. Well I was going to say that--well it starts off in the first one saying all the groups considered (unclear) abelian. Now what do we mean by abelian? That's one, that's a concept that you know some operations in arithmetic are abelian. For example, if you multiply, if--well abstractive, you say if AB is equal to BA, in other words what operations? If you multiply 2 x 3, you get the same thing if you multiply 3 x 2, that's in abelian operation. Addition is one. But on the other hand, subtraction is not in abelian operation because for example, if you take, if you have $3.00 and spend $2.00, you're left with $1.00. But on the other hand, if you have $2.00, and spend $3.00, you're in the hole. So that's not in abelian operation. But it so happens that the groups that I always deal with in the operations, that is involved, they are abelian which you can go both ways and get the same result when you do that.$$Okay. So that's what your dissertation was about?$$Um-hmm, dealing with abelian groups and elements and that.$$Okay. All right, so when you finished your Ph.D., now were you the first black woman to get a Ph.D. in mathematics in Syracuse?$$Yes, so they say.$$Okay.$$Um-hmm.$$All right. So I guess we have to believe it.$$That's why they, yeah they put a picture in the paper saying I paved the way for those who have come after me.$So you became the state, you were the state representative for it and it says here in '76 [1976] also you were the co-director of the National Science Foundation Women in Science Career Workshop Grant.$$Um-hmm.$$Now what was that about?$$All right. Now schools, now sometimes schools are interested in building up departments and getting students. Now I found a very useful way was to bring students from high school on your campus and show them some of the things. And I tried to get some of the students to want to come there. But now to have those--what I did, the first person, woman to get a Ph.D. in mathematics was by the name of Sonia Kovalevsky [Kovalevskaya], where--she was in Russia. But right now, so we could--so the people who would grant the money for you to have a Sonia Kovalevsky day would--dealt with other institutions. So now that was one reason too we find that you get to meet them and if you were on committees with them and they respect you and you apply for money, they give you money. Well that helps you at your school when you have finance, you bring 300 people on from the buses, from the--on the campus and you're able to feed them and have the bus pick them up but you have gotten the money--but they have given you enough what we call a grant. Now while I was at Norfolk State, I had six of them right, from--they hadn't had anyone--see, now that's something too they don't notice. People who are active in the field will do things that the others don't do. It's more to it than just teaching your classes. I would write for the grants, I would get the money. I never had anyone saying we don't have money for you. And they gave me (unclear). So we have them, they come up on the campus. And then some of them, I'm not going to say they were the brightest one necessarily, but some of the students you--they all women, would decide to come to the school and all. And then you get some of them and talk to them, some of the others who live nearby maybe in the (unclear) section of Norfolk or something like that could commute there and they think they could be quite happy there. So we start to getting students from other schools and all that can go there. They were very useful tool for recruiting. We say we want to gain their interest in mathematics, but really it's aimed at recruiting. And I think the school at which we worked, they reward you even though the student may not come in your field. But if you bring in a lot of students from a certain high school and they go, they come to the school and pay their fees, I don't think it, I think they still will credit you with being a good person.$$Okay. Now you were also, now you served on the committee for improving mathematics remediation efforts in college of the, Committee of the Mathematics Association of America. You were a member of the Mathematics Association of America as well?$$Board of Governors.$$Board of Governors.$$Uh-huh, yeah uh-huh.$$Okay.$$Yeah, Virginia--I represented the State of Virginia there.$$Okay.$$They picked them.$$So did--now did you get--when did you get involved in the Association for Women in Mathematics?$$Right after I got my Ph.D. there and during there, um-hmm.$$Okay. And is that an offshoot of the American Mathematical Society or is it--?$$Not really, no. It's not really but what it is, you belong to all of those. Now the American Mathematical Society, remember in grad school the departments sponsored all of us in the society, paid our dues for us and we invited them to join. But I think it's very important that you belong to them. You can serve your school better if you have contacts outside of your school. Now, like now if a state did not have, do graduate work in mathematics, but if you got contacts there you can use sometime and you really have a good, have a student that won't embarrass you, you can get funds for them to attend there.$$Okay. Now in '91 [1991] you wrote an article called 'A Minority Woman's Viewpoint and Winning Women into Mathematics,' published by the Mathematics Association of America, right?$$Yes.$$So what was the gist of that basically?$$Well I talk--one reason why they--now see, I was just trying to see what the focus of that article really was. Well I said on why people go into mathematics and all. But I mention the fact that too, most of the students that I got though were male and then of course I mentioned that, the fellow Charlie Yates, which I said something about earlier to you there. He was one of my favorite students when high--when I was a high school teacher there. And I do think that's one thing too, a lot of people do not encourage people to go in mathematics. I find minority people don't. Now, and I don't know about the other group if not--they encourage them or not. Which I think of course now I can see the reason why though because you figure if you would spend that much time in school you supposed to go to medical school. You're not supposed--I mean really they figure. But sometimes if mathematics is somehow better. I think being happy and enjoying what you are doing although you might not can pay as much for your car or your suit that the person did there, but you enjoy doing what you're doing and driving a lesser car to do that job can be just as rewarding in certain respects because you spend so many hours a day working. And if you're not--and if it's drudgery, you have to spend much more time to amuse yourself when you're not working and all. So that's what I think if you let people see the joy of doing mathematics, some of them will decide to make it a lifetime thing. And then too if there are some of them now that say a man like Blackwell, he will probably get income very close to what a lousy doctor's position might get. See, when people and schools have him come speak, well they give him I don't know what kind of fees that they are, what kind of fees they give people. I was at the stage, I never got to that fee stage. They give me a plaque when I go [laughter] speak to them now. But some of the people you know well they get nice fees I understand.

Lovenia Deconge-Watson

Mary Lovenia DeConge was born on October 3, 1933, in Wickliffe, Louisiana, to Adina Rodney and Alphonse Frank DeConge. Her family was Creole, and she was bilingual speaking both English and French. In 1943, The DeConge family settled in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and six years later, at the age of 16, DeConge was called to the Order of the Sisters of the Holy Family. She took her permanent vows as Sister Mary Sylvester DeConge in 1957.

Two years later, DeConge earned her B.A. degree in mathematics and French from Seton Hill College in Greensburg, Pennsylvania and began to teach high school Mathematics and French at Holy Ghost High School in Opelousas, Louisiana. In 1961, DeConge applied for and received a National Science Foundation Academic Year award to study for a master’s degree in Mathematics and French, which she earned from Louisiana State University in 1962. That year, she began teaching math at Delille Junior College, and from 1964 to 1968, she attended St. Louis University and earned her Ph.D. in mathematics with a minor in French. After receiving her degree, DeConge served as assistant professor of Mathematics at Loyola University of New Orleans, and she transferred to Southern University as Associate Professor of Mathematics in 1971. In 1976, DeConge chose to leave her Order of the Sisters of the Holy Family, and in 1982, she was promoted to Professor of Mathematics at Southern University. One year later, DeConge married Roy Watson, Sr., and became Dr. Lovenia DeConge-Watson.

From 1986 to 1995, DeConge-Watson served as Chair and Professor of Mathematics at Southern University, and from 1993 to 2003, DeConge-Watson served as Director of “Modeling Integrated Mathematical Experiences” (MIME), a National Science Foundation Project at Southern University aimed at improving mathematics and science education at all levels. MIME was funded by a $10,000,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. From 1995 to 1998, DeConge-Watson directed the Center for Minorities in Science, Engineering, and Technology at Southern University and the A&M College System. A recipient of Southern University’s Outstanding Chair and Department of the Year Award in 1990 and St. Louis University’s Outstanding Graduate of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Award in 1996, DeConge-Watson has served as an interim Associate Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs in 1998, and as interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs in 2003. She retired in 2004.

Lovenia DeConge-Watson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 9th, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.049

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/9/2010

Last Name

Deconge-Watson

Marital Status

Married

Schools

Seton Hill University

Louisiana State University

Saint Louis University

Speakers Bureau

No

First Name

Lovenia

Birth City, State, Country

Wickliffe

HM ID

WAT10

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Alaska

Favorite Quote

It too will pass.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Louisiana

Birth Date

10/4/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baton Rouge

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Gumbo, Fish

Short Description

Mathematician and math professor Lovenia Deconge-Watson (1933 - ) served as Chair and Professor of Mathematics at Southern University from 1986 to 1995, and was a member of the Order of the Sisters of the Holy Family from 1957 to 1976.

Employment

Holy Ghost High School in Opelousas, Louisiana

Delille Junior College

Loyola University of New Orleans

Southern University

Rockwell International

Favorite Color

Lavender

Timing Pairs
0,0:1228,16:2104,31:6100,84:6580,91:7380,122:14070,194:14719,210:14955,215:15191,220:19710,279:20298,285:20886,290:22895,299:25505,334:32120,465:32470,471:34588,488:36237,509:38177,531:38662,538:44165,582:51798,671:55032,701:55718,709:58360,714:62628,803:71281,946:71709,951:74330,957:77960,971:84400,1032:85148,1047:89306,1099:96542,1254:97190,1262:106270,1367:106945,1380:107320,1387:120287,1505:128030,1590:128390,1595:131486,1614:132235,1628:138626,1669:141020,1692$0,0:5708,36:11304,82:12240,93:17479,117:21034,186:25194,223:35552,354:35828,359:36104,364:39554,429:44256,482:46156,495:46667,504:48492,537:48784,542:49076,547:49733,559:57262,640:59112,678:59778,688:60370,698:60666,703:60962,708:74004,840:77784,906:81972,930:83520,963:103563,1128:105693,1161:108050,1169:109445,1186:110840,1200:112049,1217:114560,1255:119169,1286:120163,1303:122648,1362:128954,1439:129438,1444:134124,1496:142040,1544:142380,1549:142720,1554:143485,1564:145270,1586:155496,1685:158426,1720:159980,1752:169308,1865:173604,1903:185045,2006:185640,2025:187510,2068:201044,2200:207846,2241:208440,2253:209034,2265:227988,2419:229348,2448:237670,2496:238528,2512:239776,2530:243208,2597:243676,2604:247790,2625:248315,2635:252782,2673:261640,2779
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lovenia Deconge-Watson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson shares her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson talks about her mother's side of the family, part 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson talks about her mother's side of the family, part 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson talks about her father's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson describes her early childhood memories in New Roads, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson talks about her siblings and family gatherings

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson talks about the effects of her family's eviction

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson details her experience at St. Augustine Catholic School

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson describes her teachers at St. Augustine Catholic School

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson talks about her teacher at Corpus Christi School

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson remembers her communion and confirmation

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson talks about her experience at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson discusses dancing and Zydeco music

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson talks about her experience at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson explains her decision to enter the convent and her father's disapproval

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson explains the process of joining a religious order

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson shares the history of the Sisters of the Holy Family

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson talks about her experience teaching in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson talks about taking her religious vows

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson talks about teaching sixth grade performing arts

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson explains her decision to attend Seton Hill University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson discusses her experience with racial prejudice at Seton Hill University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson talks about her experience at Seton Hill University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson discusses her experience with racism at Seton Hill University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson talks about teaching at Holy Ghost School

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson talks about her professors at Louisiana State University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson explains her mathematics vectors course

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson explains her decision to leave Louisiana State University in 1962

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson talks about teaching at a junior college run by the Sisters of the Holy Family

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson talks about her experience at St. Louis University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson explains the history of the nun's habit

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson talks about her Ph.D. dissertation on two-dimensional lattices

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson talks about ill while working on her Ph.D.

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson talks about her publishing papers at New Orleans Loyola University

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson talks about being recruited by Southern University in Baton Rouge

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson describes the Southern University 1972 student riots

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson remembers the death of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson remembers the assassination of John F. Kennedy

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson talks about her national teachers' examination preparation book

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson explains her 1976 decision to leave the Sisters of the Holy Family

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson describes her work at Rockwell International in Anaheim, California

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson talks about her work at Southern University and her marriage to Roy Watson

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson talks about Southern University's Louisiana Systemic Initiatives Program and her involvement with the fiber optics program

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson discusses her retirement and her continued affiliation with Southern University

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson talks about her leadership role in Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson reflects on her role as a mathematics professor

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson describes her domestic and international travels

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson describes her travels to Togo, Ghana, and Ivory Coast with her husband Roy Watson

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson talks about the awards she received from Southern University, St. Louis University, and Seton Hill University

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson describes her reaction to her Distinguished Alumni Award from Seton Hill University

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson advises future generations to learn as much as possible

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Lovenia Deconge-Watson describes her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

8$6

DATitle
Lovenia Deconge-Watson explains her decision to enter the convent and her father's disapproval
Lovenia Deconge-Watson talks about her Ph.D. dissertation on two-dimensional lattices
Transcript
So tell me what happens in the ninth grade?$$Well, in the ninth grade I went to St. Mary's Academy, and that was the time that I, you know, right after the eighth grade, I entered the convent.$$Tell me how you made that decision or how the decision was made for that to happen?$$Well, even before I even knew any religion, when I was still in New Roads [Louisiana], I used to tell my mother [Adina Rodney Deconge] all the time that I was going to be Sister. I had never seen one. And I guess, it was a seed that was planted. So when I went to the eighth grade, the teacher there kept talking about, you know, it was genuine religious life. And she was talking, she'd give pamphlets, and I guess I decided then that I would like to go. But you have to remember when I was in the eighth grade, I was fifteen. So, you know, I was--and my parents fought it. Oh, they didn't want me to go especially my father [Alphonse Frank Deconge]. He was very angry that she even suggested to me that I go (laughter). He was, you know, and when I went he didn't talk to me for a whole year. He was just so angry at me for--$$Why didn't, what was his reasoning for not wanting you to go?$$Well, I guess he didn't understand what it was all about cause we didn't grow up around religious people, you know, I mean not religious people, but religious orders. So he didn't, you know, it was like a mystery to him, why anybody would want to go. And he just thought it was a dead end for me, so he--and I regret that because he died the next--you know, he did reconcile with me before he died. But he died very, about a year after that he died with a heart attack. So I was just seventeen when he died.$So, okay, while you're at St. Louis University [St. Louis University], and you're working on your Ph.D., you write a paper or you have to write a dissertation.$$Yeah.$$So you wanna talk about that?$$Yeah, that was the most difficult part of (laughter), okay, number one, one of the difficult things is to find a topic. You have to do a lot of research, make sure that you don't write on something somebody else has already done because if you do, it's null and void. It has to be original, so that you have to do a lot of research and make sure that no one else in the literature has published anything on what you're writing about. And number two, you have to find somebody congenial enough to work with because you can't do a dissertation in mathematics without an advisor and somebody to guide you along the way. So the first two or three years I was there, you know, I started doing research as to what particular subject that I was gonna work in. And I decided that I would do it in modern geometry, which is on lattice theory and vectors, vector spaces and that kind of thing. So I found, I got--I changed, I put my major in geometry, and I started taking, concentrating on more geometry courses than the other courses. And I found a person, Raymond Freeze, whose style of teaching was the same as I told you. He'd give you the material, and you'd have to work it out and then present it to the class. It was more, he would make each of us learn the material on our own. And so I chose him for, as my director, and then I had a hard time narrowing down the topic to one thing that I could work on. And so what I decided to do, I studied lattice theory, and it was one dimensional lattice theory. And I decided that what I would do is take the one-dimensional lattice theory and bring it to two dimensional where I would define distance and all of this on the lattice. And so I had to devise the postulous and the theories and prove, for number one, that it was an empty space that I was talking (laughter) about. And then, you know, go through and develop from the theories on the first dimension, bring 'em all up to the second dimension. And that's what I did, define a metric space on the two known lattice.$$And how long did it take you to complete this?$$You wouldn't believe it. I'd say six months (laughter) all together. When I read it, I actually got the topic, and worked on it day and night for six weeks--for six months. I started it, I took my comprehensives that summer and passed them. And that frees you to start working on your dissertation. But the six months before that I had to come home because I got sick. I was very, very sick. I had to be rushed to the emergency, and--$$Where were you when this happened?$$I was in St. Louis.

Dolores R. Spikes

Esteemed college professor and mathematician Dolores Margaret Richard Spikes was born on August 24, 1936 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Margaret and Lawrence Richard. She received her elementary and high school education by attending Baton Rouge’s parochial and public school systems. Throughout her youth, Spikes’ parents strongly advocated the value of a college education and upon her enrollment at Southern University in 1954, her father volunteered for overtime hours at his job to help pay for her expenses. She went on to earn her B.S. degree in mathematics in 1957 from Southern University where she was initiated as a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and met her future husband, Hermon Spikes.

After graduating, Spikes moved to Urbana, Illinois and pursued her M.S. degree in mathematics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While pursuing her master’s degree, Spikes gained a passion for teaching and decided that she would give back to her community by teaching at a historically black college. In 1958, she returned to Louisiana and accepted a teaching position at Mossville High School in Calcasien Parish. While serving in that capacity, Spikes helped to improve the school’s ratings by introducing independent study programs. Then, in 1961, she returned to her alma mater, Southern University, and served as an assistant professor of mathematics.

In 1971, Spikes made history by becoming the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics from Louisiana State University. She went on to serve as the chancellor for Southern University-Baton Rouge and Southern University-New Orleans in the late 1980s. Spikes was the first female chancellor (and later, president) of a public university in the State of Louisiana. She was then appointed as a board member of Harvard University’s Institute of Educational Management in 1987, and in 1988, she made history once again when she was appointed as president of Southern University and the A&M College System, becoming the first woman in the United States to head a university system. Later, in 1996, Spikes became the president of the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore where she served until 2001.

Spikes has received numerous awards and recognitions for her accomplishments in academia, including: the Thurgood Marshall Educational Achievement Award and Ebony Magazine’s “Most Influential Black Women in America.” She has also served on the board of advisors for historically black colleges and universities; the board of directors for Education Commission of the States; and the Kellogg Commission on the Future of State and Land-Grant Universities.

Spikes was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 27, 2008.

Spikes passed away on June 1, 2015.

Accession Number

A2008.065

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/27/2008

Last Name

Spikes

Maker Category
Middle Name

R.

Schools

St. Francis Xavier Catholic School

McKinley Senior High School

Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

Louisiana State University

First Name

Dolores

Birth City, State, Country

Baton Rouge

HM ID

SPI02

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere With Libraries

Favorite Quote

Keep Your Eyes On The Prize.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Louisiana

Birth Date

8/24/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baton Rouge

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

6/1/2015

Short Description

Math professor and university president Dolores R. Spikes (1936 - 2015 ) served as the president of the Southern University System, and was the first woman in the United States to head a university system. She also served as the president of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore from 1996 to 2001.

Employment

Southern University at Baton Rouge

Southern University at New Orleans

Southern University System

University of Maryland, Eastern Shore

Favorite Color

Sky Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dolores R. Spikes' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dolores R. Spikes lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dolores R. Spikes describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dolores R. Spikes talks about her family's surname

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dolores R. Spikes describes her father's education

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dolores R. Spikes describes her family's work in the construction industry

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dolores R. Spikes describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dolores R. Spikes describes her likeness to her father

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dolores R. Spikes describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dolores R. Spikes talks about the culture of South Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Dolores R. Spikes talks about her Native American ancestry

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dolores R. Spikes talks about her paternal family's practice of voodoo, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dolores R. Spikes talks about her paternal family's practice of voodoo, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dolores R. Spikes talks about the Creole language

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dolores R. Spikes remembers the impact of urban renewal in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dolores R. Spikes describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dolores R. Spikes describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dolores R. Spikes remembers her childhood pastimes

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dolores R. Spikes describes her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Dolores R. Spikes recalls the demolition of St. Francis Xavier High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dolores R. Spikes recalls the demolition of St. Francis Xavier High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dolores R. Spikes remembers McKinley Senior High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dolores R. Spikes describes her early social activities

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dolores R. Spikes describes her paternal family's musical legacy

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dolores R. Spikes recalls her time at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dolores R. Spikes remembers Southern University President Felton Grandison Clark

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dolores R. Spikes talks about Louisiana's historically black colleges

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dolores R. Spikes recalls Felton Grandison Clark's departure from Southern University

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dolores R. Spikes recalls her activities at Southern University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dolores R. Spikes recalls her experiences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dolores R. Spikes recalls her living situation at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dolores R. Spikes recalls her decision to return to graduate school

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dolores R. Spikes recalls her experiences at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dolores R. Spikes describes her the subject of her dissertation

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dolores R. Spikes describes her mathematical influences

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dolores R. Spikes talks about her ambition to become a mathematician

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dolores R. Spikes talks about her transition to higher education administration

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dolores R. Spikes recalls her vice chancellorship of Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dolores R. Spikes recalls her chancellorship of Southern University at New Orleans

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dolores R. Spike remembers becoming president of the Southern University System

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dolores R. Spikes recalls her challenges at Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dolores R. Spikes describes her separation agreement with the Southern University System

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dolores R. Spikes recalls negotiating a consent decree to integrate Louisiana's public universities, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dolores R. Spikes recalls negotiating a consent decree to integrate Louisiana's public universities, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Dolores R. Spikes describes the engineering and physics programs at Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dolores R. Spikes describes the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dolores R. Spikes talks about the funding of graduate programs at historically black universities

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dolores R. Spikes describes the challenges facing higher education organizations

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dolores R. Spikes recalls being offered the presidency of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dolores R. Spikes describes her presidency of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in Princess Anne, Maryland

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dolores R. Spikes remembers her decision to retire

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Dolores R. Spikes reflects upon her life and legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Dolores R. Spikes describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Dolores R. Spikes describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Dolores R. Spikes describes the Head Start program at Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Dolores R. Spikes talks about her family

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Dolores R. Spikes reflects upon her career

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Dolores R. Spikes describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Dolores R. Spikes narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

4$4

DATitle
Dolores R. Spikes recalls her experiences at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Dolores R. Spike remembers becoming president of the Southern University System
Transcript
First day I walked into one of my classes at LSU [Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana], I sat sort of in the middle where I could see the board well and I could hear well. There was nobody--I was the only African American in that room. Nobody sitting in front of me, nobody sitting right behind me, and nobody sitting directly on either side of me. I remember it was quite obvious that they weren't (laughter)--I mean it was so obvious. But it didn't bother me. I had made it known that look, I've got a Ford Foundation fellow [Ford Foundation fellowship] for three years. I'm gonna get a Ph.D. in three years. I don't have time to linger around. I'm, you know, my business is to study math.$$Now, now what year is this, and--$$This is 1968.$$Okay, now how long had there been black students at LSU at this point do you think? What--about maybe three years?$$Oh, there had been--no, there had black students since, oh, earlier than that. I imagine in the late '50s [1950s] 'cause my neighbor across the street who's deceased now was there for her master's [degree] in one of the vocational programs. But he was shot at and everything else.$$Okay, so it wasn't easy.$$No. No, no, no.$$But he, he was--but they were there before--$$Yes.$$--you. 'Cause you know like we hear, we, you know, many have seen this story, you know, pictures of George Wallace in the door, State of Alabama.$$Yeah, yeah. Oh--$$Other people trying to integrate the University of Georgia [Athens, Georgia], you know, [HistoryMaker] Charlayne Hunter-Gault.$$Yeah, yeah.$$Other, other--you know, real big struggles trying to--$$Um-hm.$$So there was a struggle here at LSU?$$Absolutely a struggle at LSU.$$Here in Baton Rouge [Louisiana], same city that Southern's [Southern University; Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College] in.$$Same city.$$And people were shot at and--$$Yes, indeed. They were shot at and discouraged and everything else. It took a strong, strong willed person to go through that. But I was the first one to--first African American to get a Ph.D. in mathematics from there. They didn't have anybody to get a degree in that area before. So I was an oddity in that respect I guess. So--but, but there were good people there too. I mean there were enough faculty members who were really nice, good people who weren't racist or anything, who helped me. Who told me, "Don't go to this instructor. You know, stay away from this person." And because you know, they knew that they would not treat me fairly. And, and that was good. And my major professors were, were excellent and they helped me out a lot. But when we had our first test in this class, a teacher'd given us back our papers and as I found out later, he was really one of the good guys. And everybody was trying to lean over to see what I had made on the test. (Laughter) Well it turned out that I had the highest score I believe than anybody in the class. And so the next time I went to class, I had people right--sitting right in front, right on each side and in the back. All of a sudden the stereotype had been broken down by one test score. And so black women can learn mathematics, you know. It's something that just occurred to them. So anyway they--from then on it was a matter of, you know they wanted me to come to functions they had. But the truth was I was limited in interacting with them because I was a homemaker too and I was a mother [to Rhonda Spikes Brown]. And I, and I really didn't have time to socialize. By the time I got through with my, my studies and all, there just wasn't any time left. And even then, I was hardly sleeping at night. Wasn't enough hours in the day. So when I, when it got around to--this was during the period in which I had told you that in '71 [1971] I was winding down on my dissertation and my father [Lawrence Granville Richard] passed away. And that really set me back a semester or so. But come the end of the summer, I had finished the dissertation completely. And all I had to do was to type it. So it was being typed during the fall semester. And I marched across that stage in December of 1971, and was awarded the doctor of philosophy in mathematics. But by that time it didn't mean as much to me anymore. I realized then that maybe I was doing this for my father who had missed out on something that was within his reach had he been given the opportunity. And so it was just another credential for me to go to work.$And, but then I came to a board meeting in Baton Rouge [Louisiana] in 1989, and little did I know that I would walk away from that meeting with an offer of presidency of Southern University [Southern University System]. Seemed like they fired the then-president [Joffre T. Whisenton] like on the spot. Asked him to leave right on the spot. He was a nice fellow, I liked him, he was good. I think what happened was that some of his close associates really undermined his work, which was unfortunate. And he, so he said, "Well Dolores [HistoryMaker Dolores R. Spikes], if anybody's going to take my place, I'd feel better if you took it." And so I, I felt better about entertaining the notion, but I told them I needed to go home and talk to my husband [Hermon Spikes] first. So I did. But as is the case usually with Southern University, there's some politics involved. Fellow named Buddy Roemer was the governor. Seems that Buddy holds the idea that he wanted to have Huel Perkins [HistoryMaker Huel D. Perkins] for president and that I could be chancellor of the Baton Rouge campus [Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, Baton Rouge, Louisiana]. I said well, "Joe," that's the chairman of the board was Joe Charra [ph.]. I said, "Joe," when he called with that notion that night, I said, "now I'm, I'm not--I'm happy at New Orleans [Southern University at New Orleans, New Orleans, Louisiana]. I'm not asking for either one of these positions. But the problems are all here on the Baton Rouge campus, and the only way I'm gonna solve them--." You got money problems, the campus was in financial exigency, the faculty was on the verge of an explosion because the board had allowed at that time salary increases for the system officers. And you just don't do that if you've got financial exigency on any one of your campuses. And the third thing was that there was an inspector general who was finding all sorts of wrongdoing on the campus, with some people even being arrested. And two years from then there was a Southern Association [Southern Association of Colleges and Schools] for accreditation visit coming up within in two years. I said, "Now with all of that going on, I'll take the Baton Rouge campus if you're gonna give me the same salary or more that you're gonna give Huel Perkins." "Well we can't do that Dolores. He's the president." I said, "Yeah, but I'm the work horse that you want and so I'm just telling you that, you know, I don't mind. Get anybody you want for the job. But that's it. So--and it's fine with me, you know, I really--if, if that's the way the governor and you all want," I said, "I'm, I'm fine at New Orleans. We're doing fine there." Getting fat with these people bringing me big cinnamon rolls and po' boys every day (laughter), but, but we're getting along fine. So the next--I kind of figured, you know, that they were gonna go along with the governor. So the next morning they called me, the board called me back for an executive session. So they said, "We want to offer you the presidency of Southern University." I said, "Will you also delay appointment of a chancellor to the Baton Rouge campus because what you really want me to do is to clean up this mess on the Baton Rouge campus. And you can't put somebody in between my doing this and, you know, and getting the job done right." So they said, "You will be chancellor for a couple of years if you want to be as well." So I held both positions.$$Now this is 19--$$This is 1989--$$--eighty-nine [1989] (simultaneous).$$--(simultaneous) to 1991 in which I held both positions.

John B. Clemmons, Sr.

College professor and scholar J.B. Clemmons was born John Benjamin Clemmons on April 11, 1912 to Lewis and Bessie Clemmons in Rome, Georgia. Clemmons graduated from high school in 1927 after completing only the tenth grade; African Americans were not allowed to go to eleventh or twelfth grade in Rome. In 1930, he entered Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.

Clemmons then enrolled in graduate studies at Atlanta University, obtaining his M.A. degree in 1937. He then moved to Harlan, Kentucky, where he began teaching for $100 a week and met and married Mozelle Daily. By 1942, Clemmons was the principal of the school in Harlan. In 1947, Clemmons and his wife moved to Savannah, Georgia. While his wife began her lifelong involvement in the NAACP, Clemmons taught at Savannah State College (now Savannah State University) alongside his colleague, Dr. Henry M. Collier, Jr. Together, they formed the Delta ETA Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. In the summer of 1949, he worked as a visiting professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

Clemmons then decided to continue his education by attending the University of Southern California to earn his Ph.D. He received Ford Foundation and National Science Foundation grants in 1951 and 1952, respectively. After working towards earning his Ph.D. at UCLA, Clemmons decided to return to Georgia, continued his teaching career and became involved in banking. He went on to charter the Alpha Lambda Boulé of the Sigma Pi Phi in Savannah in 1963.

Clemmons served as the Chairman of the Department of Mathematics and Physics at Savannah State University for thirty-seven years. He received many honors over the years for his outstanding work and philanthropic efforts in the community. Clemmons served as Chairman of the Board for Carver State Bank in Savannah.

Clemmons passed away on June 13, 2012 at the age of 100.

Accession Number

A2007.025

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/22/2007

Last Name

Clemmons

Maker Category
Middle Name

B.

Schools

Morehouse College

Main Elementary School

Clark Atlanta University

University of Southern California

University of Pittsburgh

First Name

John

Birth City, State, Country

Rome

HM ID

CLE04

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Las Vegas, Nevada

Favorite Quote

Ask The Man That Won't Own One.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

4/11/1912

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Savannah

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Lobster

Death Date

6/13/2012

Short Description

Math professor and physics professor John B. Clemmons, Sr. (1912 - 2012 ) served as acting chair Department of Mathematics and Physics at Georgia State College, and chartered the Alpha Lambda Boule’ of Sigma Pi Phi fraternity. He also served as Chairman of the Board for Carver State Bank in Savannah, Georgia, and received many honors over the years for his outstanding work and philanthropic efforts in the community.

Employment

Fairbanks Company

Tobacco Farm

Duffy's Tavern

Rosenwald High School

Savannah State University

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:582,9:7275,134:22029,263:34220,378:63210,704:124748,1423:126790,1428:142950,1624:149995,1720:173820,2031:196572,2227:257950,2766$0,0:584,21:1430,35:12522,272:26572,553:47980,740:54535,835:57290,1021:60045,1046:119384,1530:126248,1591:126664,1596:138470,1665:157702,1825:165954,1899:166731,1908:213330,2417
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of John B. Clemmons, Sr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. describes his family's land in Rome, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. talks about his brothers

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. describes his parents' professions

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. remembers working at the Fairbanks Company in Rome, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. describes his grade school education

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. remembers his elementary school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. describes his experiences as a Boy Scout

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. recalls the entrance examination at Morehouse College

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. remembers working on a tobacco farm in Hartford, Connecticut

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. describes his summer work experiences during college

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. describes his college education in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. describes his thesis at Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. describes his position at Rosenwald High School in Harlan, Kentucky

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. describes his move to Cumberland, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. recalls being excused from U.S. military service

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. describes his Ph.D. program at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. recalls joining the faculty off Savannah State College in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. remembers his academic grants

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. remembers Louis B. Toomer

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. describes his real estate investments

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. remembers the first computers at Georgia State College in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. describes his position on the board of Carver State Bank

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. recalls the Civil Rights Movement in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. remembers founding the Alpha Lambda Boule

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. describes the Alpha Lambda Boule's scholarship program

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. describes his loan program at Savannah State College in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. talks about his organizational involvement

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. remembers his induction to the Savannah Business Hall of Fame

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. remembers teaching drama at Savannah State College

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. talks about his wife and children

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - John B. Clemmons, Sr. narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

2$3

DATitle
John B. Clemmons, Sr. remembers working at the Fairbanks Company in Rome, Georgia
John B. Clemmons, Sr. remembers the first computers at Georgia State College in Savannah, Georgia
Transcript
How much education did your father [Lewis Clemmons] have?$$He went to the third grade, he said. I don't know, but I know he could, he kept a, on his job, he kept a ruled notebook where he--real neat--where he would say, oh, you know, I, bill fifteen, uh, meaning assemble, fifteen 5213 trucks. That's the number of it. And those were cotton trucks, 5213. I will always remember that 'cause I remember most of them. And at the assembly, the price might have been--let us say, twelve cents. And then, if he built ten of them, then he put a dollar and twenty cents out there, and then on down the line, whatever trucks he was assembling. And then, one time, they were--the bosses sent three white boys down there one summer to work with him. And, and daddy said, "No, I'm not going to teach these boys how to take my job" (laughter). So, so he told his boss no. Well, one of the boys that came down there was one of the bosses' son. One--another one of the officials of the company [Fairbanks Company, Rome, Georgia]--son. And, and it was three boys. And, and the, and the, I don't know whether if that's what they planned to do or not. But daddy said, he wasn't going to teach them how to take his job--not him.$$So, did you and your brothers [Eddie Clemmons and Willie Clemmons] have--I'm sure you had chores, but did you work?$$Yeah, we would work sometimes after school. We, when we got a certain age, we'd go down to the same company. See, my daddy's work was piecework. And, and then, we had tapped, we knew the numbers of different things and, and, that were in certain bins. And it was a big factory too, covered about three or four blocks. And what we would do is, if he had to build fifty 230s--2- 2- trucks that were called 230s--then, we knew what brackets to get, what axels to get, all of the parts. And we'd bring it out of the bins, out to a desk. And my daddy and another man, Mr. Williams [ph.], for part of the time, and then, finally, there was just, there's a lot of different folks with him. But we'd pile those other, stack them up neatly by the desk, where the bench, where the, where each man was working. And then, and as the truck is assembled--first, you, you put the two hands down, then you do what, what they call nose guards and things, put them down. And then, finally, you end up, you putting the wheels on the axel. And then, you push it off. And every day about four o'clock, some man comes through, and see how many of them you assembled.$$Okay.$$And then, our job was to roll them to the warehouse. And in the warehouse, well, they shipped everything from the warehouse. That was what daddy did.$$Okay. Now (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) He was doing that when he died--up to, and lived to that point, he got--up 'til he retired.$At this time, you're still, you're teaching at Savannah State [Georgia State College; Savannah State University, Savannah, Georgia]. How long--$$I'm not teaching. I didn't--$$Not--no, at this time, this is in 1947, 1948.$$Oh, yeah, I was teaching.$$Yeah. How long did you teach at Savannah State?$$I, I taught, let me see, I taught thirty-five years there.$$What did you teach? Was it mathematics and physics (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Mathematics, physics, and computer science.$$Okay. And you were the chairman of the department of mathematics?$$Chairman, chairman of the department. One of the things, special things I did, I wrote IBM [International Business Machines Corporation] at Poughkeepsie, New York. They gave me a trip up there, and tell--I went to a meeting in University of Georgia [Athens, Georgia] for all of the units in Georgia. And they took us out to Georgia Tech in, in Georgia [Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia]. And, and those places, they had rooms where each student would have a computer way back then, and I didn't know that. I didn't know that was happening. And so, I wrote IBM. They gave me a trip up there. And I took one of the leader, leader students with me up there, and see, he's, he's deceased now. But (unclear), I was able to talk to the vice president of IBM. And I told them, that's--you all should--we trying to get the computers. And when--you all should give, give us some, a resource person. Said, "Well, we'll let you know." And I stayed two days up there. But when I got back, I got a letter saying they had decided that they would give us a resource person at their expense for one year. Well, that person came, and we were living at The Landings [Savannah, Georgia]. That's where rich people--they paid for all of that. And, and we had, and he taught a class in it. And I, I and they didn't--lady named Ms. Wilson [ph.] knew a good bit about programming and stuff. But that, that fellow kind of directed us and taught us more. And we got what you call the 1620 computer [IBM 1620]. And, and they put that in, in here at the college. And then, later, we got a, one called a 360 [IBM System/360], but the college bought it. And then, but you see, but that's something, a lot of the kids didn't know how the computer got here. But, and a lot of teachers probably didn't know, but that's how we got it, see (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) All right.