Yale Bulletin and Calendar

March 3, 2000Volume 28, Number 23

Yale alumna Evelyn Boyd Granville, the first African-American woman in the U.S. to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics, poses in front of a portrait of alumnus Edward Bouchet, the nation's first African-American Ph.D.

Alumna extols virtues of studying math

Evelyn Boyd Granville '49 Ph.D., the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate in mathematics in the United States, returned to Yale on Feb. 24 to speak of the importance of math in contemporary society.

A lively 75-year old, Granville urged that children study math in order to train their minds for rigorous and logical thinking. She expressed distress at the number of remedial math courses taught in colleges today, indicating poor preparation in the nation's elementary and secondary schools.

When Granville began teaching in the California State University system in the 1960s, it was forbidden to offer secondary-level courses for credit. Now, she lamented, 50% of all math classes in that system are remedial. "It's such a waste of money and facilities and teaching," she said. "There has been a steady decline in upper-level courses and a decline in mathematics majors and graduate students."

The solution lies at the beginning of the educational ladder, contends the alumna. "How do we teach children the beauty of mathematics?" she asked. "I wish I could get on a soapbox and go all over the country, passing on the real value of mathematics." She had, in fact, just completed a tour of southern Texas, where she spoke to middle school children about the "power and influence" of math in all aspects of life.

"The study of mathematics enhances one's skill to think logically, to solve problems and to be creative thinkers," she said.

Granville grew up in Washington, D.C. and attended segregated public schools. She graduated summa cum laude from Smith College in 1945, where she majored in math and minored in physics. At Yale, she earned her master's and doctoral degrees before going on to a career that combined university teaching and research for the government and private industry.

She became a specialist in rocket and missile fuses, orbit computations and trajectory calculations for national defense and the space program providing technical support for the Vanguard, Mercury and Apollo projects. In addition, she served as an educational consultant to the State of California, helping to improve the teaching of math in elementary and secondary schools.

Granville's visit to Yale was jointly sponsored by the George J. Schulz Lectureship and the Hoyt Fund.

-- By Gila Reinstein


Yale to construct $176 million building for medical research and education

Hockey player is humanitarian outside the rink

Scientist invents device for at-home testing of glaucoma

Professor brings presidential expertise to PBS series

Test reveals voters' unconscious presidential preferences

Executive decries 'disturbing trends' in the media

Writer describes her passion for her craft at master's tea

Study shows tongue's temperature affects taste

Alumna extols virtues of studying math

Seminar seeks to spark interest on Latino health issues

Yale surgeon is using a new, less-invasive treatment for easing carpal tunnel syndrome

Veteran sports writers help Yale journalists hone their craft

Law School colloquium to explore welfare 'reform'

Researchers discover role of 'duet' in cell function

Musical Break

Neuroscientist is honored by Danish university

Dr. Sherwin Nuland will discuss early myths about the body at book signing

A very moving work of art

Sports Scoreboard

In the News

Bulletin Home|Visiting on Campus| Calendar of Events|Bulletin Board

Classified Ads|Search Archives|Production Schedule|Bulletin Staff

Public Affairs Home|News Releases| E-Mail Us|Yale Home Page