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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.

Lloyd Douglas

Mathematician and education administrator Lloyd Evans Douglas was born on October 5, 1951 near the Polo Grounds in New York City. Douglas’ family moved to Brooklyn where he attended Lafayette Public School (now the Eubie Blake School) and Berriman Junior High School (J.H.S. 64) before graduating from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1968. He was awarded a New York State Regents Scholarship and enrolled in the City Colleges of New York where he graduated with his B.S. degree in mathematics in 1972. While there, Douglas earned three varsity letters as a lacrosse player. He then attended graduate school at Miami University and worked as a graduate assistant in the math department and as an assistant coach of the lacrosse team. Douglas received his M.S. degree in mathematics in 1974. Douglas went on to enroll in Boston University’s doctoral program where he studied algebraic coding theory under the late Dr. Edwin Weiss. He was awarded a senior teaching fellowship in the mathematics department and worked as a mathematics tutor in the resident tutor program.

From 1971 to 1976, Douglas worked at the law offices of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Leiby and MacRae in New York City as a paralegal assistant specializing in litigation. In 1976, he was hired as a mathematician in the U.S. Naval Underwater Systems Center (now called the Naval Undersea Warfare Center) in Newport, Rhode Island. Douglas joined the Trident Command and Control System Maintenance Activity in Newport in 1979 as a computer specialist where he was the on-site representative for the data processing subsystem on the first Trident submarines. From 1980 to 1983, Douglas served as an operations research analyst at the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command in Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey.

In 1983, Douglas moved to Washington, D.C. where he was appointed as a computer specialist in the U. S. General Services Administration and in the U.S. Office of Advanced Planning. In those positions, Douglas assisted in conducting technology assessments for automatic data processing and telecommunications throughout all federal departments. In 1984, Douglas joined the National Science Foundation (NSF). While there, he oversaw a large increase in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program in the Division of Mathematical Sciences. Douglas was then appointed as the assistant to the Vice President for Research at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2010, he became the associate director of the Office of Sponsored Programs at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro; and, in 2012, he has been the associate director of the Office of Contracts and Grants at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Douglas served on numerous committees in the Mathematical Association of America. In addition, he was elected as president of two, the Federal Executive Institute Alumni Association and the NSF Employees Association. He received NSF’s Meritorious Service Award in 2007.

Lloyd E. Douglas was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 19, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.143

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/19/2013

Last Name

Douglas

Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Evans

Schools

P.S. 25

Berriman Junior High School

Brooklyn Technical High School

City College of New York

Miami University

Boston University

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Lloyd

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

DOU05

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Any

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

No

Favorite Season

Summer

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Las Vegas, Nevada

Favorite Quote

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Birth Date

10/5/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Greensboro

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Candy

Short Description

Mathematician and education administrator Lloyd Douglas (1951 - ) served as a mathematician for the U.S. Army Communication and Electronics Command and the U.S. Naval Command Center, and as a research director at the National Science Foundation where he was instrumental in expanding the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program in the mathematical sciences.

Employment

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

University of Nevada, Reno

National Science Foundation (NSF)

United States General Services Administration

United States Army Communications and Electronics Command

United States Navy Trident Command and Control System Maintenance Activity

United States Naval Underwater Systems Center

Dewey & Le Bouf, LLP

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lloyd Douglas' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lloyd Douglas lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lloyd Douglas describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lloyd Douglas talks about his mother's immigration to the United States

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lloyd Douglas describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lloyd Douglas talks about his father's education and his employment in New York City

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lloyd Douglas talks about his parents' marriage in 1948

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lloyd Douglas describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Lloyd Douglas talks about his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Lloyd Douglas describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Lloyd Douglas describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Lloyd Douglas talks about the Jamaican community in Brooklyn, New York while he was growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Lloyd Douglas talks about his childhood interests

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lloyd Douglas describes his interest in science in elementary school and talks about his father helping him with his studies

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lloyd Douglas talks about his interests as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lloyd Douglas talks about the schools that he attended in New York City and his experience in school

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lloyd Douglas talks about his involvement in Christ English Evangelical Lutheran Church

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lloyd Douglas talks about the political climate in the United States in the early 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lloyd Douglas talks about his childhood interest in space

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lloyd Douglas talks about the 1964 New York City World's Fair and the Mobile Economy Run

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lloyd Douglas talks about his family's infrequent vacations and their trip to Jamaica in 1961

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Lloyd Douglas talks about his desire to attend Brooklyn Tech High School in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Lloyd Douglas describes his experience at Brooklyn Technical High School in New York City - part one

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lloyd Douglas describes his experience at Brooklyn Technical High School in New York City - part two

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lloyd Douglas describes his decision to apply to the City University of New York (CUNY), and attend Brooklyn College

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lloyd Douglas talks about the reaction to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lloyd Douglas describes his experience at the City University of New York (CUNY)

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lloyd Douglas describes his decision to pursue his graduate studies at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lloyd Douglas describes his experience at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lloyd Douglas talks about starting a Ph.D. degree in mathematics at Boston University, and leaving the program to go to work

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lloyd Douglas describes his experience at the U.S. Naval Underwater Systems Center

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Lloyd Douglas describes his experience with the U.S. Army

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Lloyd Douglas describes his experience as a computer specialist at the U.S. General Services Administration

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lloyd Douglas talks about self-teaching himself computer programming

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lloyd Douglas describes his role as the head of the central computer system at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the early 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lloyd Douglas discusses the mission and funding mechanisms of the National Science Foundation, and Walter Massey becoming the head of the NSF

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lloyd Douglas describes his experience at the National Science Foundation

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lloyd Douglas discusses the National Science Foundation (NSF)'sfunding for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs)

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lloyd Douglas discusses his role as a program officer in the Division of Mathematical Sciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF)

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Lloyd Douglas talks about the National Science Foundation (NSF) Employee Association and his appointment at the University of Nevada at Reno

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lloyd Douglas describes the history of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lloyd Douglas describes his experience in the Office of Sponsored Programs at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lloyd Douglas describes his experience as associate director of the Office of Contracts and Grants at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lloyd Douglas talks about his service at the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI)

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lloyd Douglas lists the professional organizations where he is a member

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Lloyd Douglas reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Lloyd Douglas talks about his interest in hockey

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Lloyd Douglas describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community today

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Lloyd Douglas reflects upon the approach to mathematics in the educational system and in the community

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Lloyd Douglas discusses his operating philosophy while reviewing grants and the importance of communicating science

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Lloyd Douglas talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Lloyd Douglas talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Lloyd Douglas describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

8$10

DATitle
Lloyd Douglas talks about his family's infrequent vacations and their trip to Jamaica in 1961
Lloyd Douglas describes his experience as a computer specialist at the U.S. General Services Administration
Transcript
Now, did your parents [Calvin Sylvester Douglas and Lurline Isylda Brown] have a chance to go on many vacations in the car?$$No, in fact, they may--went on very few vacations. I think in '59 [1959] we went to Massachusetts. That was, my sister and I and my parents went. I think that's maybe the only vacation that we went on as a family. In '61 [1961] when I went to Jamaica to visit my grandmother, it was just my sister and my mother and I who went. And then we started going to New Jersey, to Asbury Park, and that was my sister and my mother and I who went. And then later, my mother would go to Pennsylvania and go on vacation. So it wasn't, we didn't vacation a lot. My father thought that he was going on vacation every time he left the house. So.$$So from what I gather, he had a keen appreciation of everything that was around him.$$Um-hum, yeah.$$Okay, so, now, your trip to Jamaica in '61 [1961], you would have been like what, nine [years old] or--$$Right, and so that's one of the reasons we went is because, so my sister is a little bit older, a year older than I am, and she--it was because of the airfares, because we could both go for less than adult fare because my sister was still young enough. And so that was the last year. So that was the year that my mother decided that we should go to Jamaica.$$Okay, 'cause if she had waited another year--$$Then my sister would have had to pay adult fare.$$Okay, so, all right, so what impression did Jamaica make on you?$$You know a lot of people go on vacation to Jamaica. I would never go on vacation (laughter) to Jamaica. It was, I mean saw the, you know, all the poverty side. And so that was, that's what struck me the most, you know. See my grandmother had a farm, but it was, there was really, there were dirt floors, and the house was pretty much a shack. And then there was, you know, a barn. And so it was, you know, even though things weren't really wonderful in New York, we lived in a house, and it was, it was a house. You didn't have chickens running in and out of the house and other creatures flying in and things like that. So that was sort of an awakening.$$Okay, so you could understand why your parents left Jamaica?$$Yeah, in fact, that was my father's thing. So people would go back to Jamaica or say they were gonna go back to Jamaica, a lot of Jamaicans (unclear)--maybe a lot of them thought they'd come to the U.S. and they'd make money and then go back. And my father would say, why would you go back? That's the reason you left there. So I think he had been in the U.S. forty years before he went back. And he had relatives there.$$It seems strange to hear that when most people consider it a vacation spot--$$Yeah, exactly.$$--but if you don't have the money there, it's not that much fun.$$Yeah, no.$$Okay, so, well, now, okay, anything else about the World's Fair? Now, but, you know, the trip in '61 [1961] in Jamaica, that's--you're actually going abroad for the first time. Did you learn anything about--$$Right, so that was the first time I had been out of the U.S. There was, as I mentioned before, the money was different, so that was unusual. People, although they supposedly spoke English, my mother had to translate for us. And so that was unusual too.$Okay, now, you started with the GSA [U.S. General Services Administration] in '83 [1983], right?$$Um-hum.$$And what was, how did that come about?$$So, I sort of had gotten back to, also--not back to New Jersey 'cause I hadn't lived in New Jersey, but New Jersey was sort of, it was close to home because it's close to New York, having lived in Ohio and Massachusetts and Rhode Island. And I thought I would just stay there because it was close, but then I started sort of looking at other opportunities, and, you know, a lot of them--being a federal employee, a lot of them were in the Washington, D.C. area, and I sort of resisted for a while, moving to D.C. I said, well, I can always move to D.C. later, and but all the interesting jobs I found were in Washington, D.C. And the job at GSA was the second that I applied for, that, where I was hired over the phone. I had applied for the job. They interviewed me over the phone, and they hired me, and they even told me that they were very reluctant to do that because they had never hired anybody over the phone before, but they, then compared my application to the other applications, they said it wasn't close. And so they, so then I moved to D.C., working at GSA as a computer specialist.$$Well, you know, you hear so many stories about job discrimination of black candidates going to an interview, and when they find out they're black, they won't even interview 'em or that sort of thing.$$Um-hum.$$And then the government's not necessarily--$$Right.$$--at this stage, it's not, isn't known for doing that kind of thing. But here you get two jobs on the telephone (laughter).$$Yeah, (laughter).$$This is fairly lucky it seems, to me. So, now, what did you--you worked for the GSA as a computer specialist, right?$$Um-hum.$$And so were you doing programming for the GSA?$$No, I was actually doing planning. So back then GSA was the government's purchaser. So if you bought anything, you had to go through GSA. So whether you bought pens or pencils or telecommunications systems, you have to go through GSA if you're with the federal government. And so I worked then in office, called the Office for Advanced Planning, and our job was to do--was to look at emerging technology to see where it could be applied throughout the federal government. And that was a really interesting job because you got to do technology--technical analysis, technology assessment, just looking at new technology and seeing where it could be applied.$$Okay, now, this is a time period when the whole computer world is changing rapidly, you know.$$Um-hum.$$Some people are still using mainframes, some people--PCs [personal computers] have come out and--$$Right.$$Just talk about some of the changes and--$$So that was the first time I ever used a PC. It was a Compaq computer, and, you know, it probably has hundredth of the capability that my phone does now. But it was not large in the sense of a mainframe. It was sort of like a desktop now and it was actually things that you could write and program and have it actually do things. So, again, with my interest in computers, I thought that was something that I really enjoyed doing.$$Okay, at this juncture, then, would you--the kind of programming you're doing, I guess would, you know, is PC-based, were you aware of Macintosh [from Apple, Inc.] computers at this point?$$No, no, I wasn't.$$Okay, and was the government--I guess the government was basically PC-based?$$Right, um-hum.

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
0,0:1496,53:2464,71:4840,116:6072,170:11792,287:12408,295:18640,486:31437,671:31923,679:38160,813:39780,845:40347,855:44640,932:45693,947:49824,1022:61720,1116:62995,1145:63295,1150:63595,1156:63895,1161:64195,1166:66070,1203:69295,1242:70420,1269:71095,1281:71395,1287:74020,1343:91506,1601:92298,1614:93882,1651:100864,1723:108220,1860:109155,1872:109665,1879:122346,2111:123136,2129:123768,2140:124242,2148:125901,2178:126217,2183:127876,2219:128192,2224:134029,2302:134345,2307:138374,2402:139006,2414:143049,2472:144019,2500:154815,2631:156020,2657$0,0:11068,201:36192,397:36780,406:60720,730:63714,735:70334,863:79889,1048:80435,1055:94030,1250:100798,1364:113400,1553:115320,1592:115880,1600:116840,1616:118440,1644:119720,1669:120040,1674:124760,1787:137835,2012:149841,2277:150189,2282:159288,2324:160296,2341:160716,2347:171796,2499:204220,2961
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.

James Donaldson

Mathematician James A. Donaldson was born in 1941 on a farm in Madison County, Florida as one of eleven children to parents Audrey Brown and Oliver Donaldson. After graduating from high school, Donaldson enrolled at Lincoln University near Oxford, Pennsylvania in 1957 and graduated from there in 1961 with his A.B. degree in mathematics. Donaldson continued his studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where he received his M.S. degree in mathematics in 1963, and his Ph.D. degree in mathematics in 1965.

Upon graduation, Donaldson served as professor of mathematics at Southern University, Howard University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the University of New Mexico. In addition, Donaldson was appointed as a visiting professor at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Science at the University of Victoria in Canada, the University of Ferrara in Italy, and Duke University in North Carolina. In 1972, Donaldson was named chairman of Howard University Department of Mathematics. During his tenure there, Donald oversaw the hiring of new tenured-faculty and the development and inauguration of the first Ph.D. degree-granting mathematics program at a Historically Black College and University.

Donaldson has served on committees of several professional mathematics and science organizations. He is a member of the Council of the American Mathematical Society, served as the second vice president of the Mathematical Association of America, and was the editor of the newsletter of the National Association of Mathematicians. Donaldson’s research interests include the history of mathematics and mathematics accessibility issues and he has published more than fifty research papers, articles and presentations in these areas as well.

Donaldson served as a consultant to the National Science Foundation, the National Research Council, the Sloan Foundation, the Educational Testing Service, several state boards of Education, many mathematics departments, and the District of Columbia Public School System. He received the Lincoln University Alumni Achievement Award in 1986, and was the National Institute of Science’s memorial lecturer in 1989.

James A. Donaldson was interviewed by March 28, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.087

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/28/2013

Last Name

Donaldson

Maker Category
Middle Name

Ashley

Occupation
Schools

Jeslamb School

Madison County Training School

Lincoln University

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

Search Occupation Category
First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Madison County

HM ID

DON03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Florida

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

I'm still kickin'.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

4/17/1941

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

Mathematician James Donaldson (1941 - ) served as the chairman of the the Howard University Department of Mathematics where he established the first Ph.D. degree-granting mathematics program at a Historically Black College and University

Employment

Howard University

Lincoln University

University of New Mexico

University of Illinois, Chicago

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
0,0:3205,45:5830,134:10030,203:10330,208:54025,510:55300,528:55725,534:57085,556:58020,568:65771,655:66518,675:73075,797:73739,807:85190,876:94792,975:96254,992:97888,1014:128240,1332:135030,1389:135282,1394:135975,1407:149510,1610:166544,1815:193768,2089:195013,2107:208260,2252:212765,2349:220162,2406:226148,2487:230822,2553:240673,2628:241085,2633:243140,2689:277622,3089:280348,3128:286264,3178:306890,3480:321553,3643:322799,3665:333408,3783:337420,3891:338372,3914:340760,3931$0,0:1639,6:3814,38:5032,53:9121,85:13819,144:14167,153:27672,208:35298,268:37794,302:42946,336:43558,343:43966,348:45581,353:46148,362:47039,379:50696,414:51156,420:53456,454:54560,469:55756,478:60995,518:67943,554:72221,592:79876,679:80212,684:81640,702:82228,710:83740,777:92376,862:92764,867:94025,882:98416,912:103044,970:108295,1060:109274,1072:110164,1083:113190,1122:129608,1356:130661,1369:131633,1382:132281,1392:136331,1449:138194,1474:140948,1520:141839,1530:146886,1554:147390,1559:149784,1575:153888,1625:154680,1637:158110,1667:158740,1680:167776,1755:168596,1767:169334,1777:171138,1803:173680,1851:175812,1885:176468,1895:177698,1916:178108,1922:178846,1938:204980,2173:205540,2181:206660,2200:208020,2218:209540,2243:210260,2253:211700,2272:212340,2281:218150,2308:219162,2322:220082,2334:224084,2358:225293,2372:225944,2384:226595,2392:227246,2401:231920,2426:233620,2452:244912,2538:245535,2546:248294,2589:249006,2598:249807,2610:261950,2708
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Donaldson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Donaldson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Donaldson talks about his mother and her family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Donaldson describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Donaldson talks about his father and his work on his family's farm

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Donaldson talks about his parents getting married in the early 1920s

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Donaldson talks about his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James Donaldson talks about his parents' and his Uncle Enoch's influence on his upbringing and his early education

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James Donaldson describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - James Donaldson describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up - part one

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Donaldson describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up - part two

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Donaldson talks about the quality of his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Donaldson talks about Jeslamb School

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Donaldson talks about his teachers at Jeslamb School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Donaldson talks about listening to the radio while growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Donaldson talks about his teachers and his academic performance in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Donaldson talks about his experience in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Donaldson talks about his pre-college counseling, graduating from high school, and his father's death

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Donaldson talks about his teacher, Mr. Scott, and his interest in working as an electrician

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Donaldson talks about his visit to Washington, D.C. during high school

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Donaldson talks about being hazed upon his arrival at Lincoln University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Donaldson talks about his preparation for college and his academic performance there

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Donaldson talks about his clumsiness in the science lab and his decision to major in mathematics

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Donaldson talks about his math studies, his professors, and his peers at Lincoln University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - James Donaldson talks about his decision to pursue graduate studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Donaldson talks about his problems with finding a place to stay upon his initial arrival at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Donaldson talks about African American mathematicians and his peers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Donaldson explains the concept of differential equations

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Donaldson describes an example of a differential equation

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Donaldson talks about mathematical problems

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Donaldson talks about his Ph.D. advisor, Ray Langebartel, and his teacher, Professor Dube

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James Donaldson talks about his struggles in graduate school and the nature of research in mathematics

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Donaldson talks about his experience working at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's (UIUC) Computer Center

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Donaldson talks about his experience working at Howard University during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Donaldson talks about his colleagues and his experience working at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Donaldson talks about the Annual Meeting of the American Mathematics Society

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Donaldson talks about his memories of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination and his participation in anti-war protesting

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James Donaldson talks about his decision to leave the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - James Donaldson talks about his postdoctoral research at the University of New Mexico

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - James Donaldson talks about returning to Howard University and publishing in the Cambridge Philosophical Society

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James Donaldson talks about being a founding member of the Association for Women in Mathematics

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James Donaldson talks about the development of Howard University's doctoral program in mathematics

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James Donaldson talks about the supporters of Howard University's graduate program expansion efforts

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James Donaldson talks about balancing his responsibilities as chair with his research activities

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - James Donaldson talks about his mathematical teaching philosophy

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - James Donaldson explains a Cauchy problem as a differential equation

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - James Donaldson talks about his organizational affiliations

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - James Donaldson talks about the attendees of the First Pan African Congress of Mathematicians

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - James Donaldson talks about his professional activities - part one

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - James Donaldson talks about his experience in Italy

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - James Donaldson talks about his professional activities - part two

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - James Donaldson talks about the Mathematical Association of America and the American Mathematical Society

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - James Donaldson talks about Abdulalim Shabazz

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - James Donaldson talks about becoming acting president of Lincoln University and receiving a traveling award from the National Science Foundation (NSF)

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - James Donaldson talks about Patrick Swygert's role in his appointment as the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Howard University

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - James Donaldson talks about becoming the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Howard University

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - James Donaldson talks about his educational initiatives for Howard University - part one

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - James Donaldson talks about his educational initiatives for Howard University - part two

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - James Donaldson talks about his colleague, Jeff Donaldson, and his involvement in developing the Afro-American Studies program

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - James Donaldson talks about Elbert F. Cox and the importance of scientists knowing the history of their field

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - James Donaldson talks about his research interests, and the integration of mathematics and the life sciences

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - James Donaldson reflects upon how he treated his students when he first started teaching

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - James Donaldson reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - James Donaldson talks about his views on research

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - James Donaldson shares his hopes for mathematical-related fields

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - James Donaldson talks about his family

Tape: 8 Story: 11 - James Donaldson talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$6

DAStory

6$3

DATitle
James Donaldson talks about his clumsiness in the science lab and his decision to major in mathematics
James Donaldson talks about the development of Howard University's doctoral program in mathematics
Transcript
Now what did you decide to major in when you first got to Lincoln [University]?$$Well when I first went to Lincoln, I was not sure; I thought that I was going to do pre-medicine because I'd heard people talk about pre-medicine but when I went to the biology class and they had--as part of the experiments you had to do was to dissect this frog that had been preserved in formaldehyde. I decided, you know, that there had to be something else, so I just sort of went--I went and changed that and so I looked at engineering for a while because they had this cooperative agreement with--I wanna say Lehigh University [Bethlehem, Pennsylvania]--no, Lafayette College in [Easton] Pennsylvania. Lincoln had a cooperative agreement so you do three years at Lincoln, two years at Lafayette, and you get a degree in engineering and a degree in liberal arts. And so I was interested in engineering so I did that for about a semester but that didn't work out well and again, it was the laboratory thing that just fell down.$$What was the problem with the laboratory?$$Well, you had to go out on these field trips; you had to go out on these field trips and one Saturday morning--and I think I probably will remember this until the day I die--we had to go out and it had rained a lot the week before. On a Saturday, we had to go out to look at some rock stratifications along the Chesapeake Bay Canal that connects the Chesapeake Bay to the Atlantic Ocean. It's up in Delaware; it's not too far from Lincoln, so just a bus trip; and we were supposed to go out and look at this and we went out there and--now my professor, Professor Rasmussen, really nice man, he was equipped; everything was equipped. He had on these rubber boots and all of this stuff and here I was out there, you know, with sneakers on and my classmates we were similarly equipped, and all of that mud and stuff we were sloshing around in. And so by the end of the day, everyone was tired and, you know, all wet and dirty, and I remember being so tired I saw this little small pool of water and ordinarily I would have tried to go around it or jump across it but I was just so tired I said I'm just gonna walk--I'm wet already, I might as well walk through this water. So I walked through this water and there was a hole, and I came up--water came up to my chest. So when they got me out of that, I knew then that my engineering days were over. So when I got back to the school, I went to see my advisor and told him "Well look, that's it with the engineering." And Professor Rasmussen tried to talk me out of it; he said "You know, you can do it, you can do it," but I just could not see that there was much of a career for me in that kind of area if that was what I had to do afterwards. Now of course if I had been dressed as he was, it probably wouldn't have been as bad. And so then Lincoln said "You've got to choose." They said "You've got to pick something." My better grades were in the sciences and mathematics and the chemistry again, I loved it. But the laboratory (laughter) just how I say it, the laboratory--did not know whether to put the water into the acid or the acid into the water. And the two--the operations do not commute. So one you get an explosion, you know. Thing say Pow!!! If you put the--$$So did you get it wrong, or did you--$$Oh, a couple of times I got it wrong (laughter). Put the water in the acid--Pow!! So I messed a couple of pair of pants; I only had about three or four pair, and that's all together so, you know, I just couldn't stay there, and I think the chemistry professor was a really good guy--Professor Rudd. I think he sort of agreed that I made the right decision (laughter). He agreed I made the right decision. So I went into mathematics which I say "Well this is what I choose as a major," but didn't know whether I was gonna work in it or not but I decided to choose that as a major because I had to choose something.$So at Howard University--Professor of Mathematics at Howard. Had they planned--well, when you got to Howard, did they--how soon was it before a plan was developed to create a PhD in Mathematics at Howard?$$I guess I got it--I arrived at Howard in 1971. In 1972, I was appointed, you know, Chair of the Mathematics Department and it was around that time that the president of the University, James E. Cheek, talked about expanding, you know, the graduate offerings, you know, in mathematics here. And so it was shortly after 1972--around probably 1973, I have one of the earl proposals--draft proposal, you know, for the doctorate, and I think that's 1973.$$Okay. Alright. So you came back, or you were invited back to Howard basically by a new administration, right?$$By a new administration, right.$$James E. Cheek.$$James Cheek, right.$$Okay. And he took over from James Nabrit.$$Right.$$So some of the things that you did at Howard since you came here, you developed both short-range and long-range programs for the Math Department, right? Strengthened the Mathematics Department faculty, wrote a proposal to offer PhD program; that's in '73 [1973], right?$$Right.$$And (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous)--It was around '73 [1973]; I'm not really sure. Seventy-three [1973], '72 [1972], '73 [1973], around there, but I think it was '73 [1973].$$Okay. And what was the university's thinking? That Howard was not really--had not really fulfilled its potential in mathematics before, or what?$$Well no, I think it was the vision of President Cheek, and he felt that, you know, that a first-rate university should have a strong mathematics program. I know that he was a visionary in that sense so I--but not only that, but in the other sciences as well. But physics and chemistry already had doctorates in mathematics, you know, at the time--physics and chemistry. In fact, chemistry was first and then I think shortly after that, there was physics.$$Okay.$$So it was just the president--it was part of the president's vision.$$Alright, so what did establishing a PhD program entail? What did you have to do?$$Well, first of all, as all new programs are concerned, there is a process that one has to go through involving getting the approvals at different levels. First, the graduate school; well, the graduate school has to approve the proposal, and then once that is done, getting the support from the different administrative offices, you know, at the university. But in our case, it was easier in the sense that the dean of the graduate school, this was Edward Hawthorne, the dean of the graduate school, was supportive of the program and of course the main support was from the president of the university.

William Massey

Mathematician William A. Massey was born in 1956 in Jefferson City, Missouri; the younger of two sons of Richard A. Massey, Sr. and Juliette Massey. Massey attended the public schools of St. Louis, Missouri and high school in University City, a suburb of St. Louis. Upon graduating from University City High School, Massey received a Harvard Book Award and a National Achievement Scholarship. He enrolled at Princeton University in 1973 and encountered his first real introduction to research mathematics in an honor calculus course taught by the late Ralph Fox. Massey wrote his undergraduate senior thesis, “Galois Connections on Local Fields,” under the direction of Bernard Dwork, and graduated from Princeton in 1977 with his A.B. degree in mathematics with honors – magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and Sigma Xi. Massey was then awarded a Bell Labs Cooperative Research Fellowship for minorities to attend graduate school in the department of mathematics at Stanford University. Massey wrote his doctoral theses, “Non-Stationary Ques,” under the supervision of Joseph Keller, and graduated from Stanford University in 1981 with his Ph.D. degree in mathematics.

In 1981, Massey became a member of the technical staff in the Mathematical Sciences Research Center at Bell Laboratories, a division of Lucent Technologies. His research there included queuing theory, applied probability, stochastic processes, and the performance modeling of telecommunication systems. Massey published over fifty papers in those areas, one of which credits him as the co-author of a U.S. Patent on server staffing. In the area of mentoring, Massey has organized every annual Conference for African American Researchers in the Mathematical Sciences, which he co-founded in 1995. He founded the Council for African American Researchers in the Mathematical Sciences (1996) and is a lifetime member of the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM). In 2001, Massey was named the Edwin S. Wilsey Professor of Operations, Research, and Financial Engineering at Princeton University, making him the first tenured African American mathematician at an Ivy League University.

Massey received the Distinguished Service Award from NAM in 1996 and was invited to give its William W. S. Clayton Lecture. He has given invited lectures at the American Mathematical Society national conference, the Congreso Nacional de la Sociedad Matematica Mexicana, and the Edward Bouchet Conference for African and African American Physicists and Mathematicians that were held in Ghana, Canada, and Germany. The Blackwell-Tapia Prize Committee awarded Massey its 2006 prize and U.S. Black Engineer and Technology magazine honored Massey as the Black Engineer of the Year in 2008.

William A. Massey was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 8, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.065

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/8/2013

Last Name

Massey

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

University City High School

Princeton University

Stanford University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

William

Birth City, State, Country

Jefferson City

HM ID

MAS08

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France

Favorite Quote

Think outside the hypercube.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New Jersey

Birth Date

9/4/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Piscataway

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Steamed Crab Legs

Short Description

Mathematician William Massey (1956 - ) , co-founder of the Conference for African American Researchers in the Mathematical Sciences, became the first tenured African American mathematician at an Ivy League University when he was named Edwin S. Wilsey Professor of Operations, Research, and Financial Engineering at Princeton University.

Employment

Bell Laboratories

Princeton University

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of William Massey's interview

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

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

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - William Massey describes his mother's education and her career as a teacher

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - William Massey describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - William Massey talks about his parents' employment in Missouri

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - William Massey talks about his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - William Massey describes his childhood's neighborhood in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - William Massey describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - William Massey describes the sights, smells and sounds of growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - William Massey describes his childhood interests

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - William Massey discusses the portrayal of black scientists on television

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - William Massey describes his childhood toys

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - William Massey describes his experience in grade school and his early interest in mathematics and drawing

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - William Massey talks about his childhood friends

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - William Massey talks about the political atmosphere in the 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - William Massey talks about his experience in a mixed-race schooling system

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - William Massey talks about attending church as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - William Massey describes his involvement with church and in sports while growing up

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - William Massey talks about his training in mathematics in school

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - William Massey discusses his summer jobs, and his high school activities and achievements

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - William Massey describes his decision to attend Princeton University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - William Massey describes his experience at Princeton University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - William Massey discusses his concerns about education and violence in the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - William Massey talks about the misrepresentation of statistics in the media

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - William Massey describes his mathematics coursework at Princeton University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - William Massey describes his senior thesis on Galois connections on local fields

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - William Massey describes his experience at Bell Labs

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - William Massey talks about African American scientists at Bell Labs in the 1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - William Massey describes the queueing theory and his dissertation research on non-stationary queues

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - William Massey talks about his Ph.D. thesis advisor, Joseph Keller

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - William Massey describes his experience as a doctoral student at Stanford University and his summer experience at Bell Labs

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - William Massey talks about his contemporary generation of African American mathematicians

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - William Massey describes his decision to work at Bell Labs and explains the queueing theory

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - William Massey talks about his research at Bell Labs in the 1980s and 1990s

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - William Massey describes the concept of Jackson networks

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - William Massey talks about other African American mathematicians at Bell Labs and in academia

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - William Massey describes his most significant research contributions at Bell Labs

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - William Massey describes how his research has advanced the theory of dynamic rate queues

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - William Massey describes his involvement in establishing the Conference for African American Researchers in the Mathematical Sciences (CAARMS)

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - William Massey describes his involvement in mentoring students

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - William Massey describes his research in congestion pricing, and his transition from Bell Labs to Princeton University

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - William Massey describes his decision to accept a professorship at Princeton University in 2001

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - William Massey describes his current research in decision-making, at Princeton University

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - William Massey talks about his involvement with the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM) and the African American legacy at Bell Labs

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - William Massey talks about his professional awards

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - William Massey talks about his mentorship of African American students

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - William Massey reflects upon his career's legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - William Massey reflects upon his career's choices

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - William Massey describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - William Massey describes the role of African American organizations in discussing social issues

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - William Massey talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

7$5

DAStory

3$6

DATitle
William Massey describes his current research in decision-making, at Princeton University
William Massey describes his decision to work at Bell Labs and explains the queueing theory
Transcript
So, now you continued to do research at a higher level here [Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey] according to all the paper citations I have on you in this album. I'm not sure it's not comprehensive. But can you just kind of summarize what your research has been here?$$Well, here it was getting into--well, moving over from the world of--well, at Bell Labs [New Jersey], they were called queueing theory performance modeling. So, what I call modeling is that, sort of the deliverable for a model is a forecast, you know. So a good model gives you--enables you to predict what goes on with the actual system. So I didn't do a lot of that. As I got to Princeton, I started moving into the area of decision-making. So, now the deliverable is, instead of a forecast, the deliverable is a policy. And so--and then for communications, there seems to be three different natural types of, well, areas we would develop decision-making policies, and just for alliteration sake since, you know, performance begins with the letter P, these three I called--well, first I just thought there were two, you know, provisioning and pricing. And so, now, if you're not obsessed with using the letter P, then provisioning; another way of saying provisioning will be design, you know; having just enough resources to make your customers happy. Pricing is--would be sort of like control, you know; how to--you use prices and mechanism to control the demand for the services, and then, you know, this gives you a way of--well, you have two things where, on one hand you want to maximum your profit, but on the other hand you don't want to violate the constraints of creating bad service. So you want to keep congestion constrained to be no higher than this level. So what's fun about, you know, being in an executive setting and having Ph.D. students, so you're, you know--so this is kind of the setting I gave to Robert [Hampshire; Massey's student who is now on the faculty of the School of Public Policy and Information Sciences at Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania] and I kind of had this nice picture, you know, of performance and then--performance for modeling, but then for issues of decision-making, the two Ps, you know, pricing, provisioning. Then a few months into it, he comes back to me and says, "Shouldn't there be a third P here?" "What do you mean?" "Well, I think there should be one on--but--well, later we were going to call it "prioritization." And you only think of that when you have multiple classes of customers. So you don't assume all the class--customers are the same. You know, they have different needs, they have--they can afford different levels of service; and so, how do you allocate these resources. What's the fairest way to allocate these resources among the different classes of customers? You know, so that's another issue, you know, paper we're still--what we developed, we have the paper but that's--one of my outstanding papers we need to finish up and write up and kick out the door. But we got some from out of the thesis, you know; through collaboration, we got some of the papers, you know, from it. And, so now what I'm doing with Jamal, is that we have these--well, it's an essential object that's called the dynamical system, which is the solution of ordinary differential equations. In the twenty-first century, thanks to the computers, these are easing things to solve. So, if you can formulate some more complicated system in terms of dynamical systems, you almost feel you have a closed form solution. And we used--with Robert I used this to approximate average behavior of these random systems. And then we would control that average behavior, so we'll see average profit through the average revenue. And so what's the strategy that optimizes that? But now, when you look at more stochastic systems--well, I have colleagues who were in finance. They worry a lot about decisions under risk. Because things aren't completely deterministic. There's a certain randomness involved. So there's a risk that occurs. But how do you maximize in the face of that type of risk? And so, it turns out you got to understand things like the variance standard deviation, and it turns out the formulas, we have to approximate those; (unclear) approximate those aren't quite as good as the ones that approximate the mean. So with Jamal, his thesis is developing new techniques. I guess he would say it's involving stuff like skewness approximation, cumulate moments; and give better estimates of the variants. So we could extend this sort of decision-making to, you know, deal with more uncertainty. You know, like, you want to maximize your profit, but you only want to take this level of risk. You know, how do you, you know, how do you do that? And then, now I have a most recent student, Jerome--major move I'm making now is that, up to now, everything has been related to communication, communication services; but I found writing up this, you know, in the act of writing up these papers I've done with Robert or, you know, having do up his thesis, I just realized that, when you look at communication services--okay, so--and, of course, when you're no longer working for a phone company, you know, you feel free to thinking about things outside of telephony. But what's communication services from a business perspective? It's sort of the leasing of shared resources. You know, with your cell phone. You don't buy a radio channel. You know, in effect, you're paying for the leasing of it through the rate of your conversation. And so, that's what we're studying in general, so like Robert is in a department of--I guess it's the School of Public Policy and Management [Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania]. And, well, once I made this discovery, I was happy, you know, so I was telling Robert, you know, "You'll be happy to know that a set of tools--," since he's an expert in, you know, he trained to be an expert in queueing theory, "--a set of tools that help you study, you know, the leasing of shared resources, you know, may come in, you know, handy when you're looking at issues of public policy." And so, he's looked at them and applied to areas of transportation. Now, recently, what I've been doing is, a new area a lot of people in operations and research are getting excited by is health care, you know, because, like, in health care, you don't--you go to the hospital, you don't buy a hospital bed; you lease it for the duration of your stay. And then you have a lot more issues of, you know, coordination of different types of resources. So you have this whole elaborate choreograph of resources that all come to bear on your specific, you know, issue. And so, there's a lot of--there's a lot of room for queueing analysis, you know, there, because the problems are a lot more complex than--a lot of problems that's on the communication systems.$$Okay.$Okay. So 1981 when you finished Stanford [University, Palo Alto, California], did you have any doubt that you were going to be working for Bell Labs [New Jersey]? (laughs)$$Oh, no doubt.$$All right.$$Because it just seemed like such a, you know, a congenial environment. Also, I just got a chance to work on exciting problems, because I found that by focusing on this applied area looking at specific time varying queue, I as address the issues--the general theory of Markov processes didn't seem to be (touch it?).$$Okay. So you contributed something new to the field of mathematics--$$Yeah.$$--over in this dissertation?$$Oh, yeah. Just studying--there was a classic queueing model with people who are very familiar with constant rates. And so I developed the sort of approximate or asymptotic theory when you had time-varying rates. And then from this new insight I could show--well, basically show that you could, if you analyze things the old way, you might make a mistake a come in, you know, come with a misleading conclusion. Because you think of--well, okay. So you think of--well, we'll make it simple; where the service rate is constant, so that doesn't change; you just have (unclear) rate. And you think of it, it's like water coming to a bucket at a certain rate, and it goes out--let's make it easy; it goes out at a unit rate. It drains in unit rate, water comes in, okay. Now, if the water rate is always less than the unit rate, then the bucket never fills up. And that's kind of like steady-state behavior. But if the water, incoming rate, exceeds the draining rate, then the bucket will fill up; and then over time, it'll just go all the way up to infinity. So that's sort of the static situation. But what happens if the input rate changes in time? Well, what will happen is that, it may start off being less than the unit rate but later it becomes higher; but later it'll drop back down. And so, the actual level goes up, but it's not going to go all the way up to infinity, it's going to come back down. So the big question is: When does it come back down to zero? And people used to think, Well, this is what's going to happen when the input rate--the first time the input rate is less than the draining rate. Of course, if you try that, you'll realize that's not true. You know, it's sort of--kind of like turning on the bathtub and the water is coming in faster than the draining rate. The minute you turn off the faucet, you know, the water level doesn't drop to zero immediately; it's going to take some time. And so what I showed is that, to talk about stay-state behavior, you have to wait until the time it takes for that part to drain out. And then what I was really surprised about, this is just a couple years ago, I didn't realize that this phenomenon really describes what's been going on with our economy. You know, when people say, you know, after this recession that they--we started a "recovery," the recovery that didn't feel like a recovery? What does that mean? Well, what economists call a recovery is like when you suddenly turn off the faucet and the, you know, the rate at which jobs are disappearing becomes smaller than the rate at which jobs are being created (coughs). That's called a recovery. But this backlog of unemployed people, that doesn't suddenly disappear. So economists may say, when the input rate is less than the draining rate, you know, in terms of, you know, lost jobs, that's a recovery. But everyday people are not going to feel like it's a recovery until, you know, that level of water drops back down to zero. And that's kind of where we are right now. You know, we're getting closer, but we're waiting for that to happen.$$Okay. Okay.

Johnny Houston

Mathematician, education administrator, and research director Johnny L. Houston was born on November 19, 1941 in Sandersville, Georgia to parents Bobby Lee Harris and Catherine Houston Vinson. After graduating from Ballard Hudson High School in Macon, Georgia, Houston attended Morehouse College and graduated in 1964 with his B.A. degree in mathematics. Houston received his M.S. degree in mathematics from Atlanta University (Clark Atlanta University) in 1966 and then travelled to Paris, France to study at the Universite de Strasbourg. In 1974, Houston graduated with his Ph.D. degree in mathematics from Purdue University.

In 1975, Houston was appointed as the chair of the Atlanta University Math and Computer Science Department. During a leave period, he served as the Calloway Professor of Computer Science at Fort Valley State University. In 1984, Houston became the vice chancellor of academic affairs and professor of math and computer science at Elizabeth City State University (ECSU). He was named senior research professor in the ECSU Department of Mathematics and Computer Science in 1988. Throughout his career, Houston has held several positions as a specialist in mathematics and computer science, including serving as a member National Institute of Health’s MARC Committee from 1980to 1986, a member of the Board of Governors of the Mathematical Association of America from 1992 to 1995, and as a member of the Human Resource Advisory Group for the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute from1993 to1998. In 1996, Houston established the Computational Science and Scientific Visualization (CSSV) Center at ECSU; and, in 2002, he established the African Studies (TLMP) at ECSU. Houston served as the director of both programs until 2008. Houston is a co-founder of the National Association of Mathematicians, Inc. (NAM), and served as NAM’s executive secretary from 1975 until 2000. Houston published The History of NAM, the First 30 Years; 1969-1999 in 2002 and is the author of more than forty books and articles on the science, mathematics, and education

Houston has received several awards and honors, including the University Of North Carolina Board Of Governors Teaching Excellence Award in 1996, NAM’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999, and the Purdue University BCC Pioneer Award in 2009. Houston has been included American Men and Women of Science, Who’s Who Among Black Americans, Who’s Who in America, and the World Directory of Mathematicians. In 2010, Houston was named professor emeritus at Elizabeth City State University after twenty-six years of service.

Houston is married to Virginia Lawrence. They have two daughters: Mave Talibra and Kaiulani Michelle.

Mathematician, education administrator, and research director Johnny L. Houston was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 25, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.046

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/25/2013

Last Name

Houston

Maker Category
Middle Name

L.

Occupation
Schools

Universite de Strasbourg

University of Georgia

Clark Atlanta University

Morehouse College

Ballard Hudson High School

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Day,s Evenings, and Weekends by pre-arrangment

First Name

Johnny

Birth City, State, Country

Sandersville

HM ID

HOU03

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Any

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - Expenses plus any expression of appreciation

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Mountains, Water

Favorite Quote

Life Has Been Very Kind To Me And I Thank God For It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Birth Date

11/19/1941

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Charlotte

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Vegetables

Short Description

Mathematician Johnny Houston (1941 - ) was the founder of the Computational Science and Scientific Visualization Center and the African Studies Program (TLMP) at Elizabeth City State University, and co-founder of the National Association of Mathematicians, Inc. (NAM).

Employment

Elizabeth City State University

Fort Valley State University

Atlanta University

Savannah State University

Stillman College

E.E. Smith High School

Favorite Color

Gray

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Johnny Houston's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Johnny Houston lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Johnny Houston talks about his mother and his grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Johnny Houston talks about growing up in the deep South

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Johnny Houston talks about his aunts' perception of Elijah Muhammad

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Johnny Houston talks about his mother's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Johnny Houston talks about his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Johnny Houston talks about his father's education

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Johnny Houston talks about his relationship with his father

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Johnny Houston talks about how his parents met and his father's career in the funeral business

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Johnny Houston talks about his grandmother's influence on him

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Johnny Houston talks about his grandmother, her influence in the community, and her employment

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Johnny Houston describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Johnny Houston talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Johnny Houston talks about the black communities in Sandersville, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Johnny Houston talks about his interest in how things work and describes living in poverty during his early childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Johnny Houston talks about his experience in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Johnny Houston talks about his passion for learning and his elementary teachers' perceptions of him

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Johnny Houston talks about his uncle's service in World War II and the racial tensions of growing up in the South

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Johnny Houston talks about his involvement in Springfield Baptist Church while growing up

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Johnny Houston talks about the impact of his grandmother's death

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Johnny Houston talks about his childhood jobs

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Johnny Houston talks about his sister's death, his family's move to Macon, Georgia, and living in the projects

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Johnny Houston talks about the demographics of the projects of Macon, Georgia, and his education

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Johnny Houston talks about his junior high school science teacher

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Johnny Houston talks about his high school English teachers and the importance of communication skills

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Johnny Houston talks about his science and math instruction in high school

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Johnny Houston talks about his high school math teacher and his math instruction

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Johnny Houston talks about his extracurricular activities and working during high school

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Johnny Houston talks about graduating from high school, his decision to attend Morehouse College, and his financial hardships there

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Johnny Houston talks about his financial hardships and his quest for work in Hot Springs, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Johnny Houston talks about his experience working at The Homestead luxury resort in Hot Springs, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Johnny Houston talks about his favorite vacation destination, Hot Springs, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Johnny Houston talks about his interest in math and science and his chemistry professor at Morehouse College, Henry C. McBay

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Johnny Houston talks about his professors, Claude B. Dansby and Henry C. McBay, at Morehouse College

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Johnny Houston talks about his professors at Morehouse College

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Johnny Houston talks about Benjamin Mays - part one

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Johnny Houston talks about Benjamin Mays - part two

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Johnny Houston talks about Shirley McBay

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Johnny Houston talks about his memories of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Johnny Houston talks about graduating from Morehouse College and his experience teaching high school mathematics in Fayetteville, North Carolina

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Johnny Houston talks about the professors at Atlanta University Complex, including Abdulalim Shabazz

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Johnny Houston talks about his thesis advisor, Lloyd Williams, and the area of topology in mathematics

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Johnny Houston talks about his decision to study at the University of Strasbourg in France

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Johnny Houston talks about learning French and his experience in France

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Johnny Houston talks about learning French and his travels within the United States

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Johnny Houston talks about his studies and his experience at the University of Strasbourg

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Johnny Houston talks about his travels through Europe

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Johnny Houston talks about his decision to teach at Stillman College and his experience there

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Johnny Houston describes his first exposure to computers, when he attended an IBM workshop to learn to program in Fortran

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Johnny Houston talks about his memories of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his assassination in 1968

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Johnny Houston describes his experience at the Summer Institute for College Teachers of Math at the University of Georgia

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Johnny Houston describes his decision to pursue his Ph.D. degree at Purdue University, and talks about other African Americans who studied there

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Johnny Houston talks about his wife, Virginia Lawrence, whom he married in 1969

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Johnny Houston talks about the establishment of the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM) in 1969, and the reasons for its conception

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Johnny Houston describes the objectives of the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM), and the reasons for its conception

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Johnny Houston talks about his doctoral advisor, Eugene Schenkman, and his experience as a doctoral student at Purdue University - part one

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Johnny Houston talks about his doctoral advisor, Eugene Schenkman, and his experience as a doctoral student at Purdue University - part one

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Johnny Houston describes his doctoral dissertation, titled, 'On the Theory of Fitting Classes in Certain Locally Finite Groups'

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Johnny Houston discusses the impact of his doctoral dissertation, titled 'On the Theory of Fitting Classes in Certain Locally Finite Groups'

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Johnny Houston talks about how pure mathematics is the forerunner of applied mathematics

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Johnny Houston talks about his graduation from Purdue University

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Johnny Houston talks about teaching mathematics at the Krannert School of Industrial Management at Purdue University

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Johnny Houston describes himself as a computational scientist

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Johnny Houston talks about his decision to become the head of the mathematics department at Atlanta University

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Johnny Houston talks about becoming the National Secretary of the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM) in 1975

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Johnny Houston talks about training faculty at HBCUs to use computers in the 1970s

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Johnny Houston describes his experience at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Johnny Houston describes his experience at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 1979

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Johnny Houston talks about becoming the Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Computer Science at Fort Valley State University in 1981

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Johnny Houston talks about his appointment as the vice chancellor of academic affairs at Elizabeth City State University

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Johnny Houston describes the history of Elizabeth City State University

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Johnny Houston describes his contribution towards the computerization of Elizabeth City State University

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Johnny Houston talks about his publications on the general applications of mathematics

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Johnny Houston describes the growing application of mathematics and computer science in scientific research

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Johnny Houston talks about the ease of scientific collaboration in the modern age of computerization

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Johnny Houston describes how he became involved in the President's Africa Education Initiative: Sub-Saharan Africa Textbooks Project

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Johnny Houston describes his contribution towards the President's Africa Education Initiative: Sub-Saharan Africa Textbooks Project

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Johnny Houston describes his collaboration with the University of Cheikh Anta Diop while working on the Sub-Saharan Africa Textbooks Project

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Johnny Houston describes the two different phases of the Sub-Saharan Africa Textbooks Project in Senegal

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Johnny Houston talks about teaching students to think critically to solve problems in mathematics - part one

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Johnny Houston talks about teaching students to think critically to solve problems in mathematics - part two

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Johnny Houston talks about the scientific contributions of Benjamin Banneker

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Johnny Houston talks about Elbert Frank Cox, who was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. degree in mathematics

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Johnny Houston talks about Euphemia Lofton Haynes, Evelyn Boyd Granville and Marjorie Lee Brown

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Johnny Houston talks about mathematician, J. Ernest Wilkins

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Johnny Houston talks about the accomplishments of mathematician, David Blackwell

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Johnny Houston talks about African American pioneers in mathematics, and the current occupational trends amongst African American mathematicians

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Johnny Houston describes his contributions to the field of mathematics, and shares his advice for aspiring mathematicians

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Johnny Houston reflects upon his choices

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Johnny Houston describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Johnny Houston talks about the Black Culture Center at Purdue University and the African Studies Program at Elizabeth City State University

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Johnny Houston talks about his family

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Johnny Houston talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$9

DAStory

7$3

DATitle
Johnny Houston talks about his interest in math and science and his chemistry professor at Morehouse College, Henry C. McBay
Johnny Houston describes his experience at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado
Transcript
Now, to Morehouse [College] to talk about the academics. Now did you decide on a major as a freshman?$$When I went to Morehouse as a freshman, I knew I had an analytical mind; I knew I had a curious mind and I told you I had had these two teachers who had mentored me in English in high school. And something annoyed me about them; they would tell me how to do things correctly and why to do it, and then I would find myself doing it and then they--"No, no, you can't do it at this point." I say "Why not?" They say "Because this is the exception to the rule; this is when the rule doesn't apply." (Unclear) "Oh no, this is the exception to"--I say "Well, if it's a rule, it should be a rule." And so I was not--and then in the social sciences, they were talking theories; this is such-and-such-a theory; this is this. I say "Wait a minute, either something is or it isn't." So I liked analytical things and the things that were pretty much straight forward, so I decided the freshman year when I went to Morehouse that I'm sure I'm gonna major in math or science because those--two and two is gonna be four, don't care what you do with it; they're not gonna change. As Mr. Thomas say, "If you heed this compound, this is gonna happen; it's not gonna be these exceptions they keep talking about." So I went there with the understanding that I would either major in mathematics or science because of my very nature, the nature of my mind and what I was most comfortable with. And so I took chemistry my first year there from a professor named Henry C. McBay, perhaps the most renowned African American chemist that we've had in the United States. And he really--he was the most exciting mentor I have had in college; teacher and scholar, he excited me; I took his class, general chemistry, 8:00 in the morning the first year I went to Morehouse. He had a lecture room with 125 seats in it and I would go there and I would sit up near the front; I wanted to hear and learn everything he had to teach. He was a fantastic teacher, great scholar, and he made chemistry come alive, and he excited me; I mean he excited me so much--and the other thing that made me excited was you knew he was a chemist. In the entire--I took two semesters of chemistry from him during my first year at Morehouse, and I only remember him bringing a note or a book to class only once. He was totally prepared mentally with all the details, and he went in there and he could teach chemistry; he knew chemistry and he could teach it. Now there were things in the room like we call the chart of elements [periodic table] and different things he would point to from time to time to refer, but notes he didn't bring. And he had boards that you--you could write on the board and then you could push it up in the air and then pull the other board down and write on it, and then over the other side it had--so we were trying to keep up with him with his writing. But he was a fantastic and inspiring teacher, and he is perhaps the greatest teacher that I have ever had; he inspired me to want to do science and to want to do it well, and I say if I ever taught, I wanted to be like Henry C. McBay.$Now, you did some work with the National Center for Atmospheric Research [NCAR], Boulder [Colorado] right?$$Yes. The idea was and this is one of the things I can never forget my grandmother [Ruth Houston] and mother [Catherine Houston Vinson] for this, they say you learn as much as you can and so what--I talked to some of the professionals--again NAM [National Association of Mathematicians] helped me on this. We were closed out. When I say we, African American mathematicians and scholars were closed out from a lot of the big research labs, a lot of things. But in the '70s [1970s] they start opening up and start letting blacks come out there for internships, or activities during the summer. And so we said, hey we got to take advantage of these things to learn. And they saw that as a forerunner for being able to hire them as full-time employees and also for us to start introducing the students to what they were doing. So, I went out there to Boulder, Colorado and there is something called NOOA, N-O-O-A. It was the National Center for Atmospheric Research, it's on the side of a mountain and it's fantastic. Every morning, five days a week, I had to get up that mountain to that and I had a window in my office and I could look over the mountains. And it was beautiful. In fact, sometime during the lunch hour we would climb some of the smaller cliffs out there--we called them flat irons--just for the heck of it. But that was a fantastic experience because that's when I really got into computer science. They had the first super computer I ever ran into. A large computer was the forerunner to the big super computer and they allowed us to work on it. And you talking about really crunching numbers and we were looking at data they were getting from the atmosphere. And one of the problems they wanted me to work on was unequally spaced data. It was easy to work on data that end up at exact spaces apart, but they found out then in the atmosphere it wasn't like you draw it on the board in the classroom. You had data that was unequally spaced and so the question is--to give an example, if you had one piece of data right here, another piece here, another piece there that was the same distance, well you always knew what was in the middle; it was half the distance between. But what if you got data where one was here then the next piece was there then the next jumped here, how did you handle that data because we needed to know the previous data in order to make predictions about the one up front. And so that was a big problem, how did you handle unequally spaced data. And that was a good computational science problem that I started working on there.$$Okay. Now, also this is at the National Center for Atmospheric Research? And so they had a super computer--this is your first experience with one, what was--can you describe what a super computer was like in '76 [1976]?$$What a super computer was like in '76, I hate to say, but it was like the desktop computers today.$$In terms of the power?$$Yeah. I mean, see in '76 [1976], the only thing that could give--if you had a five hundred and eighty megabytes or if you had one billion gigabytes, only super computers do that. Now you can get a gigabyte on your laptop but back then that was big news; I mean, that was speed. People talk, well wow, you were getting--I don't know whether you ever saw it but the computers back at that time people were talking about thirty-two, thirty-two megabytes or sixty-four, you were on the low computers they had. But you got five hundred and the gigabyte you are the super computer thing.$$Okay.

James Curry

Mathematician James Curry was born in 1948 in Oakland, California. Curry became interested in mathematics at age twelve, after seeing fascinating symbols and equations in a physics book. He was determined to learn calculus and received a lot of support from his high school math teacher. Curry was also curious about computers after working with one that was donated to his high school. In 1976, Curry received with his B.S. degree in mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley. He also attended graduate school the University of California, Berkeley, graduating with his M.S. degree in mathematics in 1976 and his Ph.D. degree I mathematics in 1976.

Upon graduation, Curry was awarded consecutive postdoctoral fellowships to study the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. In 1981, Curry began scientific investigations with the CRAY High Performance Computing System. His research was supported with the Minority Research Initiation grant from the National Science Foundation. He investigated the role of computers in helping people to understand complicated topics like weather monitoring and mathematics theory. Curry’s research focused on developing ways to solve nonlinear equations using a computer. He worked with scientists who study the ocean and atmosphere, such as Warren Washington, and helped them to answer questions about their work using mathematics and computers. In 1990, Curry joined the faculty at the University of Colorado, Boulder as associate professor of applied mathematics. Curry was promoted to full professor of mathematics at the University of Colorado in 1991; and, in 2008, he was appointed associate director of the program in applied mathematics. Curry has also worked as a project officer at the National Science Foundation, where he managed the distribution of federal funding to programs from the Division of Mathematical Science, Applied Mathematics Division.

Curry’s seminal research with the CRAY supercomputer has been widely-published in academic journals including, Communications in Mathematical Physics and Communications in Applied Nonlinear Analysis. In addition to research and writing, Curry has contributed to STEM education via The Curriculum Project, which has been successful in addressing critical issues involving minority participation in mathematics.

James H. Curry was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 16, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.033

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/16/2013

Last Name

Curry

Maker Category
Middle Name

Howard

Occupation
Schools

Oakland Technical High School

University of California, Berkeley

Cole Elementary School

Lowell Junior High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Oakland

HM ID

CUR04

Favorite Season

Spring

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

Woods Hole, Massachusetts

Favorite Quote

Do more math.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Colorado

Birth Date

7/24/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Denver

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Mathematician James Curry (1948 - ) pioneering CRAY Supercomputer analyst, served as associate director and professor of of applied mathematics at the University of Boulder, Colorado.

Employment

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Curriculum Project

National Center for Atmospheric Research

University of Colorado at Boulder

National Science Foundation (NSF)

CRAY High Performance Computing Systems

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Curry's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Curry lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Curry describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Curry talks about his parents' views about Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Curry talks about his mother's education and veiled family history

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Curry describes his father's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Curry talks about his paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James Curry talks about his father's employment with Southern Pacific Railway

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Curry talks about his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Curry talks about his sister, Gloria Curry, and his school guidance counselor Edward L. Dry

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Curry describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Curry describes growing up in West Oakland, California

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Curry describes the sights and sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Curry describes his interest in math and science fiction

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Curry describes his interest in comic books, science fiction and math

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Curry describes his experience at Cole Elementary School and Lowell Junior High School

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Curry describes his introduction to computers in the ninth grade

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Curry talks about his math teacher, Mary Perry Smith

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Curry talks about his mentors, Edward L. Dry and Mary Perry Smith

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Curry describes his experience in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Curry talks about his mentors at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Curry describes his experience at the University of California, Berkeley in the 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Curry describes his motivation to learn math

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Curry talks about Harry Morrison, Warren Washington and Jim Donaldson

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Curry talks about prominent mathematicians at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Curry describes his decision to attend graduate school

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Curry describes his interest in obtaining a Ph.D. degree at U.C. Berkeley

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James Curry talks about William Lester and Robert Bragg

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - James Curry talks about his Ph.D. dissertation research

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Curry talks about his Ph.D. thesis on finite dimensional normal approximations to Boussinesq equations

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Curry describes his experience with the PDP-11 super mini-computer at U.C. Berkeley

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Curry describes his experience in France

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Curry describes his experience at Howard University

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Curry talks about his experiences at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James Curry describes his scientific collaboration with James Yorke

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - James Curry talks about Ed Lorenz at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - James Curry describes his experience at the National Center of Atmospheric Research and the University of Colorado

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - James Curry talks about his research at the National Center for Atmospheric Research

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - James Curry talks about Professor William King and Professor Charles Nilon

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James Curry talks about the Cray-1 supercomputing system

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James Curry talks his former and current students

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James Curry talks about the Conference for African American Research in Mathematical Sciences [CAARMS]

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James Curry talks about his career and his choices about family

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - James Curry talks about his trips to Vietnam for work

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - James Curry talks about his administrative roles at the University of Colorado

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - James Curry discusses the lack of African Americans pursuing academic careers in mathematics

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - James Curry describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - James Curry reflects upon his family

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - James Curry reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - James Curry talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

1$6

DATitle
James Curry describes his interest in comic books, science fiction and math
James Curry describes his scientific collaboration with James Yorke
Transcript
Okay, we were just discussing these comic books.$$Yeah, we were discussing comic books, and Thor and Spiderman and the Fantastic Four, and all of those comic books. And just the richness of the language, I mean, I think really attracted me. I mean, you could play with the language. You could say funny things in the language. It was--yeah. So, comic books influenced my life. Science fiction influenced my life. I really enjoyed reading science fiction, and sort of dreaming about what could be. And during the '50s [1950s] in television, there were always these guys in white coats who would walk around on television, and I really thought that was cool. And then there was the whole Sputnik [first artificial satellite sent into orbit; launched by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957] thing that sort of just came, and science became important, and yeah, you could do something. I mean that was, the universe was open. That was--$$A lot of drama centered around scientists in those days--$$Oh yeah.$$--on television, 'The Twilight Zone'[American television series]--$$Yes.$$Doctors, mad doctors--$$(laughter) 'The Twilight Zone', Rod Serling, "Today we're about to enter the twilight zone." And just the way, I mean, the enunciation and the cadence. I mean I love that, I love that.$$So, you seem to have a really interesting focus on math, more so than most people I've ever talked to. I mean, you were actually, you know, trying to read math books as a kid.$$I read math books as a kid. I liked math. I liked the symbols. They were mysterious. And so, figuring out what the mystery was about, I mean, that was always sort of like wonderful and exciting. Literature, naaaah, but science fiction was really great. I loved that. Over time, I've come to appreciate literature, but I mean, it was the science and the science fiction. And I remember when I was in high school, I read parts of the biography of Albert Einstein, and I thought that was kind of cool. I mean, that was when I was at Oakland Technical High School [California]. And then I just sort of--Mary Perry Smith, Edward L. Dry [teachers who were influential in Curry's life]--I mean, they were motivators.$Okay. So, you're publishing works during this period, too, right? You published something with James Yorke. I don't have all of your publications here--$$(laughter).$$--but there some here that are highlighted from the website.$$Okay. So, here's the Yorke story. I gave a talk at the University of Maryland [College Park, Maryland] when I was at Howard [University, Washington, District of Columbia]. And I was talking about my thesis work, the 14 Variable Model. And I met this guy named Jim Yorke. And Jim Yorke was an (unclear)--I mean, just very, very bright, very capable guy. And he, I mean, he gave his talk--I gave this talk. And then after being at Howard for a year, I went to the National Center. Well, the National Center had just gotten in a CRAY-1 computer, Model Number 14. And nobody was using it. And so, Jim Yorke and I were corresponding back and forth, and he said, "Oh, you ought to take a look at this map and run some computer experiments on it." And so since nobody was using this super computer, guess what? You could run 100 experiments on the super computer on this particular map. I mean, and by the way, solving a 14 variable differential equation takes time. Iterating the map takes almost no time. And so, guess what? You run this little map, and they also had this really nice output system where you could output things to microfilm. And so, I would produce forty frames, fifty frames. And then I'd send them off to Yorke. And Yorke got really excited because we were looking at--so, you take a circle and it has a particular structure. And you twist it, you shear it in a certain way. And by shearing it, you create periodic orbits, you create some dynamical structure. And Yorke wanted to figure out how a circle might break down. And so he ran the experiments. We did some work. We wrote a paper that appeared in Springer Lecture Notes, or something, and people thought, "Oh, that's really nice." Excuse me, I didn't think very much of it. I mean, it was, "Oh, yeah it's cool and Jim Yorke is cool." And then the next thing that happened was Michel Ano in France, he did some work on the Ano Map, or he created this new map. And David Ruelle was interested in that one, and so I could do some work on that. And so, I mean, it was, yeah, it was interesting.

Sylvia Bozeman

Mathematician Sylvia Bozeman was born in Camp Hill, Alabama in 1947. She was the third of five children to Horace T., Sr. and Robbie Jones. Although her father worked with numbers daily in his profession as an insurance agent, it was her mother, a housewife, who first cultivated Bozeman’s love for mathematics. In 1964, Bozeman graduated valedictorian of Edward Bell High School in Camp Hill, and in the fall enrolled at Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, AL. Bozeman graduated from Alabama A&M University 1968 with her B.S. degree in mathematics. She went on to earn her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in mathematics, from Vanderbilt University in 1971 and Emory University (Atlanta) in 1980, respectively. The areas of her research and publications have included operator theory in functional analysis, projects in image processing, and efforts to enhance the success of groups currently underrepresented in mathematics.

Upon graduation, Bozeman worked for one year as an instructor of mathematics at Tennessee State University, and then joined the faculty in the Mathematics Department at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. She began as an instructor in 1972, became assistant professor in 1980, an associate in 1984, and full professor in 1991. Moreover, Bozeman served as chair of the Mathematics Department from 1982 to 1993, as adjunct faculty in the Math Department at Atlanta University from 1983 to 1985. In 1993, Bozeman established the Center for the Scientific Applications of Mathematics at Spelman College, and served as director. In a special partnership between the mathematics departments of Spelman College and Bryn-Mawr College, Bozeman co-directs Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (EDGE), a national program that assists women in mathematics in making the transition from college to graduate school. In 2007 the EDGE Program was given special recognition by the American Mathematics Society for its effectiveness.

Her noted scholarly activities include several publications, funded research (by NASA, the US Office of Army Research and the Kellogg Foundation); and her recognitions, contributions, and services as a gifted teacher and presenter. Bozeman is a member of the Mathematical Association of American, and, in 1997, she became the first African-American elected as an MAA Section Governor in the association’s eighty-two year history.

Bozeman and her husband, Dr. Robert Bozeman, live in Alabama with their two children, Robert, Jr. and Kizzie.

Sylvia Trimble Bozeman was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 18, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.209

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/18/2012

Last Name

Bozeman

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Trimble

Occupation
Schools

Emory University

Vanderbilt University

Alabama A&M University

Edward Bell High School

Agreeable Hill Elementary

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Sylvia

HM ID

BOZ02

Favorite Season

Christmas, Summer

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Near Water

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

8/1/1947

Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Favorite Food

Vegetables, Desserts

Short Description

Mathematician Sylvia Bozeman (1947 - ) was the founder and director of The Center for the Scientific Applications of Mathematics at Spelman College.

Employment

Spelman College

Favorite Color

Cranberry

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sylvia Bozeman's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sylvia Bozeman lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sylvia Bozeman describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sylvia Bozeman describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her father's education and career aspirations

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her mother's career

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Sylvia Bozeman describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her father's career

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her family

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sylvia Bozeman describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sylvia Bozeman describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her elementary school experience

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her family's involvement in the church

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her memories of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her high school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about how black schools were named

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her high school experience

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her decision to attend Alabama A&M University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about meeting her husband

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about Alabama A&M University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her introduction to mathematical research

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about the political climate at Alabama A&M University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Sylvia Bozeman remembers her career aspirations during her college years

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her female math instructors

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her decision to attend Vanderbilt University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about integration at Vanderbilt University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her experience at Vanderbilt University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about teaching at Tennessee State University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her decision to attend Emory University for her Ph.D.

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sylvia Bozeman describes her dissertation on operator theory

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her involvement with the black math community

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about black women mathematicians

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her post-doctoral employment prospects

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her career at Spelman College

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about the STEM initiatives at Spelman College

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her professional memberships and awards

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her work at Spelman College

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about the evolution of Spelman's STEM programs under the leadership of Dr. Etta Faulkner

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her professional affiliations

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about the renovation of Tapley Hall

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about the EDGE Program

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her presentation at the Congressional Diversity and Innovation Caucus

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about the government's inadequate support of STEM initiatives for HBCUs

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about black mathematicians

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about the future of the EDGE Program

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about Bob Moses' Algebra Project

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Sylvia Bozeman reflects upon her life choices

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Sylvia Bozeman reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her husband, a fellow mathematician

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Sylvia Bozeman talks about her children

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Sylvia Bozeman reflects upon how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Sylvia Bozeman describes her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

6$9

DATitle
Sylvia Bozeman talks about her introduction to mathematical research
Sylvia Bozeman talks about her career at Spelman College
Transcript
Now Huntsville is now the sight of a, is a NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration] center in Huntsville.$$Right. So Redstone Arsenal turned into Marshall Space Flight Center. And so that's one of the NASA sites. It was originally named Redstone Arsenal. But it is still the same NASA facility, evolved.$$Okay, so now it's the Marshall Space Center. So--$$Um-hmm. Robert worked out there when he, as a, you know sophomore, junior in college math major. He actually worked out there in the evenings as a, in an engineering position. That's what they called them, engineer.$$Okay. So this is, you really--did you follow the space program closely when you were growing up?$$I don't know that I followed it more close than anybody else but you know I was aware and I went out to, onto Redstone Arsenal. Actually my department chair, Dr. Howard Foster was a physicist and he had some connections out there and he hired me as a student research assistant to help him with some calculations and he took me out there and had them to give me access to a computer, a small computer, small meaning probably the size of that file cabinet over there but at that point it probably could do about as much as a little hand (unclear). But you know, but it was my first introduction to the idea of computing.$$Okay. So you learned how to--was the computer basically a big calculator or something that--?$$Yes, really. And I don't, I can't even remember how much I learned from being out there you know working on that because I didn't really have a lot of help. But I, you know I did help him with his calculations there and back in, back on campus using desk calculators to the point that he did acknowledge me in his paper when he published his results. And so you know that probably gave me my first introduction to research and then the next summer I can't--I would, and it must have been due to his influence but I ended up spending a summer at Harvard [University] in a summer program for students that came from minority institutions, mostly across the south. There was a summer program in Harvard in math. Well I guess it wasn't just in math. I was in math and some of the other students but some of the students were in other areas. So I spent a summer there and after that you know I was primed for graduate school. So I have to think that Dr. Foster influenced me to do these things. I can't imagine how else I would have ended up at Harvard in a summer program.$$Now what's his first name?$$Howard Foster.$$Okay, oh Dr. Howard Foster.$$Uh-huh.$$And he was, he taught physics and math at--?$$He was chair of the math and physics department. It was one department but he was a physicist and he taught physics.$$Now did he teach you calculus?$$No, just physics. He only taught physics but he was the chair of the--it was a combined department.$$So, but you had calculus I guess for the first time in--?$$I had calculus at Alabama A & M with Dr., I'll think of that in a minute. His name just slipped right out of my head. I had a Cuban calculus professor, Castillo, Dr. Castillo. He was one of my favorite teachers too, C-A-S-T-I-L-L-O.$$Okay.$$Dr. Castillo, so he taught all of us calculus, my husband, taught my husband calculus too.$Okay. Now I have this on the outline in 1977, is this when you founded the Center for Scientific Application of Mathematics?$$No, that happened in 1993 so I'm not sure.$$Okay, all right. I think I got it in the wrong place.$$'77 [1977], I'm trying to see what--$$Well lets not worry about that now and--$$Okay. I don't know what happened in '77 [1977]. I was trying to remember what that would have been.$$But I know that after, it sys here--$$I probably went back to graduate school in '77 [1977], I guess.$$Yeah, you had been working on your Ph.D.?$$Uh-huh, I went back in '76 [1976].$$Okay, but in '82 [1982], this is two years after your Ph.D., you became the chair of the math department here.$$Right, like I said more responsibilities, right? So it's unusual to, I thought it was unusual for somebody to be, have two, be two years out of graduate school and then become chair of the math department but that's what happened.$$Well in a time when you know technology and the science and technology are leaping forward, what--did you have--I mean what were your priorities as chairman of the math department at Spelman [College] in '82 [1982]?$$In--so I guess it was 1980 when I was finishing up. I think that--I guess I have my dates right. I had a student named Daphne Smith and she went, left Spelman and went to MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology, private research university] in math and she got a Ph.D. in math and probability. And it was a realization, it was--she was the first student out of this department, math department to get a Ph.D. in math. And I think it made us start to think more about our--the need for more of our students to go on to get Ph.D.s in math and it was a realization all across the sciences here, that not just math but in all of the sciences, we needed to put more emphasis on having students to go on to graduate school and to get Ph.D.s. And so we started an all out effort to do that and that was one of my priorities during the time I was chair to get more of our students into graduate school and more of them to earn Ph.D.s.$$Okay. All right, now was the department in pretty good shape when you inherited the chair, chairmanship?$$In terms of good shape you mean in terms of the number of faculty and number of students or--?$$I guess in terms of the--you had just come out of a Ph.D. program. Were they up to, you know was it up to speed the way you would like it to be when you came out?$$In terms of the curriculum?$$Right.$$I think, we had a pretty strong curriculum because see when I was taking over as chair I was taking over from Dr. Etta Faulkner who had been chair and she was top notch.$$Right, now I've heard of her before.$$Oh yes.$$Yeah.$$So she--$$Tell us something about her. Now what's her background and--$$She, I can't remember what year she came to Spelman, maybe it's '69 [1969] but she finished her Ph.D. at Emory [University] and she was, came here and became chair of the math department and Dr. Shirley McBay was also here, another black woman mathematician and Shirley became associate dean or something like that. She was you know, one step up. No, and chair of the science division. That's what Shirley was and the dean. And so the two of them had already, when I came they had already started looking at the fact that only 10 percent of our students were in math and science at Spelman and they thought that there needed to be more, that we needed to really put more effort into getting women into science. So--and some of what I'm about to say I'm thinking, I'm taking from an article that Dr. Faulkner wrote about the history of the sciences at Spelman and she talks there about how the science building was dark and dreary and there was no talk about women being in science and math on campus, nothing appeared in our literature about it. And they talked the president into starting a new era to try to change that. And they started a summer science program to try to bring, get these women who were coming into the school into the sciences at the very beginning and they did all kinds of things to try to improve the sciences and they did. And so they got the whole faculty on board so whatever we did it was not in the math department it was all across the sciences. We worked together to try to increase the number of students that were going on to, that were coming into the sciences in the first place and graduating with a BS and then by the time I came along as chair in the 80s [1980s], it was now okay, how many of these students can we get to go on to graduate school and to get Ph.D.s in math and science?

Donald Frank St. Mary

Mathematician and academic administrator Donald Frank St. Mary was born on July 22, 1940 in Lake Charles Louisiana. He attended McNeese State College (Louisiana) as an undergraduate and completed his B.S. degree in mathematics in 1962. St. Mary went on to earn his M.A. degree in mathematics from the University of Kansas in 1964 and his Ph.D. degree from the University of Nebraska in 1968. As a graduate Ph.D. student he worked as an instructor at the University of Nebraska, and then at Iowa State University.

In 1968, St. Mary was hired by University of Massachusetts, Amherst (UMASS) as an assistant professor in the physics department. His early efforts to build the department and attract research funding to the university resulted in a promotion to associate professor in 1975 and subsequently to full professor in 1983. St. Mary also worked closely to advance the education of minority students. Between 1969 and 1974, he implemented an arithmetic skills course that helped build students’ knowledge of computational analysis. During the summers between 1975 and 1981, he developed a two-week course, “What is Calculus About?” for sophomore and junior level high school students. When the university was in session he directed the Minority Engineering Program which assisted students in the academic support program with their calculus coursework. In 1992, he created and organized the Science Enrichment Program at the University of Massachusetts. The five-week residential program was designed to enrich minority high school student’s’ experiences with science curricula in a college environment.

In 1994, St. Mary was selected by faculty in the department of mathematics and statistics at UMASS to be its principal academic leader with executive responsibility for all aspects of the department, and after receiving approval from from Dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics he was appointed department head. During his career, St. Mary was awarded research grants totaling $600,000 from the National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research. He was awarded institutional grants, all in some manner to support minority students, totaling $7 million from the NSF and the National Cancer Institute. From 1968 to 2002, St. Mary served on the Board of Directors for the Committee for the Collegiate Education of Blacks and Other Minority Students, holding various offices including vice chairman and chairman.

St. Mary is internationally renowned for his research in Computational Ocean Acoustics. He has been invited to lecture in Accra, Ghana, Honolulu, Hawaii, and Dublin, Ireland. St. Mary has authored, co-authored, and edited scholarly works for distinguished publications such as Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society, Journal of Computational Physics, and Journal of the American Acoustical Society.

Donald Frank St. Mary was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on [10/08/2012]

Accession Number

A2012.214

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/8/2012

Last Name

St. Mary

Middle Name

Frank

Schools

University of Nebraska-Omaha

University of Kansas

McNeese State College

Sacred Heart High School

Sacred Heart / Saint Katharine Drexel School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Donald

Birth City, State, Country

Lake Charles

HM ID

STM01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

New York, New York, San Francisco, California, Washington, D.C.

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

7/22/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Amherst

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

Mathematician and academic administrator Donald Frank St. Mary (1940 - )

Employment

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Iowa State University

University of Nebraska

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Donald St. Mary's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Donald St. Mary lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Donald St. Mary describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Donald St. Mary describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Donald St. Mary talks about his Creole ancestry

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Donald St. Mary talks about his paternal grandparents

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Donald St. Mary describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Donald St. Mary describes his childhood neighborhood and his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Donald St. Mary describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Donald St. Mary describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Donald St. Mary talks about his elementary school experience

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Donald St. Mary talks about his interest in math

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Donald St. Mary talks about his childhood jobs and career aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Donald St. Mary talks about his high school experience and involvement in sports

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Donald St. Mary talks about his childhood friends

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Donald St. Mary talks about his participation in Civil Rights organizations

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Donald St. Mary reflects on his high school experience

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Donald St. Mary talks about his decision to attend McNeese State College

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Donald St. Mary talks about his experience at McNeese State College

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Donald St. Mary talks about meeting his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Donald St. Mary talks about the social climate of McNeese State College

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Donald St. Mary talks about his studies at McNeese State College

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Donald St. Mary talks about his college mentors and his decision to attend the University of Kansas

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Donald St. Mary talks about his experience at the University of Kansas

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Donald St. Mary talks about his studies at the University of Kansas

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Donald St. Mary talks about his professors at the University of Kansas and his teaching philosophy

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Donald St. Mary talks about his interest in computer-based mathematics and his decision to leave the University of Kansas

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Donald St. Mary talks about his studies and his mentor at the University of Nebraska

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Donald St. Mary describes his dissertation with differential equations

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Donald St. Mary talks about how he was appointed to the faculty at the University of Massachusetts

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Donald St. Mary talks about his peers and his mathematical discovery

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Donald St. Mary talks about his experience at the University of Massachusetts

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Donald St. Mary talks about his research and teaching

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Donald St. Mary talks about perceptions of mathematicians

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Donald St. Mary talks about the "What is Calculus About?" summer program

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Donald St. Mary talks about his research and grants

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Donald St. Mary talks about the academy's shift towards a focus on teaching

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Donald St. Mary talks about his transition into computer-based mathematics

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Donald St. Mary describes his research on underwater wave propagation

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Donald St. Mary talks about his excitement for his research

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Donald St. Mary talks about his use of super computers

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Donald St. Mary talks about the Housing Allowance Project

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Donald St. Mary talks about being appointed chair of the math department

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Donald St. Mary talks about the Science Enrichment Program

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Donald St. Mary talks about David Blackwell and being honored by the National Association of Mathematics

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Donald St. Mary talks about black mathematicians

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Donald St. Mary talks about his teaching philosophy

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Donald St. Mary talks about his grant projects

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Donald St. Mary talks about his retirement from research

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Donald St. Mary talks about his community activities

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Donald St. Mary talks about his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Donald St. Mary talks about his draft card

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Donald St. Mary reflects on his career

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Donald St. Mary reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Donald St. Mary talks about his family

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Donald St. Mary talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Donald St. Mary describes his photos

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Donald St. Mary describes his photos

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$8

DAStory

4$1

DATitle
Donald St. Mary talks about his interest in computer-based mathematics and his decision to leave the University of Kansas
Donald St. Mary talks about the Science Enrichment Program
Transcript
I can tell you a little more about that. I was interested in computers. Now, eventually, my career moved into computers, computer-based mathematics. But way back then, computers were a new thing. So I took the only two computer-based mathematics courses they had in the department. This was so new. I took them because I wanted to go into computer mathematics. Well, I programmed at that point one of the earliest computers, an IBM 650. You use punch cards on this computer. You put your stack of cards on it. I could sit at the console and see what command it was executing. I could stop it. Now, a modern computer executes millions of commands in a second, all right. So (laughter), but I could stop the machine, and it would show me which command it was working on. Okay, the faculty member, he was the only one who did computer mathematics, he ran the computer facility, the one I'm telling you about, the research computer stuff. You put your machines on there, your cards on the card reader. He taught me a whole year's course. I wanted to be in this area. It is the area I eventually came to many, many years later. But I decided I could not work with him. He was too busy. After having him for a year, two whole semesters in a graduate-level course and seeing him, you know, three days a week, I knew that wasn't gonna work, even though he knew I was interested. He told me he would like for me to stay at the University of Kansas. He said he would support me. I decided not to stay because I knew I was gonna have trouble. He was extremely busy. He, he didn't grade our homework papers himself. He had a teaching assistant grading the papers. That was fine, but I knew I could not complete a PhD which is a major, major undertaking under somebody who could barely give me the time of day (laughter). That wasn't gonna work. And so I started looking for other institutions. First, institutions that had computer-based mathematics. That was almost non-existent in '62' [1962] and '63' [1963]. But I ended up transferring to the University of Nebraska.$$Now, had you received your Masters already at--$$It turns out I hadn't, but I completed it that fall.$$Okay.$$I hadn't, you had to finish your Masters thesis, and have an oral exam on your Masters thesis. So those things weren't done. They were done in the fall when I was officially then, a student at the University of Nebraska. But my MA degree came from the University of Kansas. And I completed my dissertation and had my oral exam. And so now, I'm at the University of Nebraska, but my focus has been in analysis, all right, the, my dissertation is in one of the branches of analysis, Integration. The computer mathematics that I was studying, it's in analysis. And so it was natural, when I got to the University of Nebraska to focus on analysis. Analysis there focused on differential equations. So I started taking advanced differential equations courses, and any--several of them, several different kinds. And so I was a teaching assistant there. I taught freshmen, largely.$Yes, now, we neglected to go over the, to talk about the SEP Program. That started in '92' [1992], National Cancer Institute awards you a five-year, $3 million grant for a science enrichment program.$$Yes, that was a phenomenal thing. SEP stands for Science Enrichment Program. The goal is to try to move minority students and underserved students, so students who may not be a minority, but be in a community where their--communities where their development would not be very robust. Enter the sciences. Now, the National Cancer Institute, of course, would like for them to be biological scientists. But I didn't care about that (laughter). I wanted to move them into the sciences. You have to be a scientist before you can be a biological scientist at some level in any case. And so I designed this program. It brings rising, ninth grade students from all over New England and Upstate New York, as far away as Buffalo and all of that, to this campus for a five-week residential program. And there are six areas of study that are studied extensively. Each area of study, the six areas are biology, chemistry, mathematics, computer science, physics and language arts, okay. So you have five science areas and one non-science area, language arts. These were structured courses. Each course was taught by a professor and a high school teacher. The professor may come from here or I may have gotten him from other institution, but they were professorial status, and I told these professors, to design courses that are not in the high school curriculum. Don't want anything that's in high school that they're gonna learn next year. Said, you design a course for, for students that they can understand and learn from, but I want it to be serious, and it needs to--if you can bring in research, bring it. And they did miraculously. I was, I was really impressed with the faculty and the high school teachers. They worked hand-in-glove. They designed the courses. Usually, the professor designed the course before the high school teacher got here. I found the best high school teachers I could find anywhere, from Chicago, from wherever. I had a fantastic chemistry high school teacher from Chicago. And, now, had a full residential staff, counselors that worked with the students directly. I had senior staff, residents' hall staff and a full program, all activities, all day were planned. And it was enormously successful.$$Were the students from the Boston area or from Springfield or, you know, cities in Massachusetts mainly or--$$No, we couldn't do that. We certainly had some from those areas, those large geographical areas. But because this, we were supposed to be covering a broad geographical area. So we definitely had students from those (unclear), from Springfield, from Hartford, but we also had students from Maine, from Upstate New York, from Buffalo, as I mentioned. And so it was largely populated by minority students, black students, Hispanic students and some American Indian students. But I just considered it enormously successful. Everybody who interacted with it just thought it was phenomenally good.$$How many years did you do this?$$We ran it five years or was it six years? (Laughter) Am I having a senior moment?

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
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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.