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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

Howard University

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

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$4

DAStory

1$6

DATitle
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.