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University of Texas at Tyler Honors 2nd Black Woman In U.S. History To Earn Math PhD

University of Texas at Tyler Honors 2nd Black Woman In U.S. History To Earn Math PhD

She’s still advocating for STEM education!

The University of Texas at Tyler (UT Tyler) is honoring the second Black woman in United States history to earn a PhD in mathematics, CBS 19 reports. 

Dr. Evelyn Granville was born May 1, 1924 in Washington, D.C., eventually graduating from Dunbar High School where she was valedictorian, according to the Department of Energy. She went on to graduate summa cum laude from Smith College in 1945, making history a short time later in 1949 as the second Black woman to obtain a doctorate degree in mathematics, graduating with a PhD from Yale University. 

She spent some time as a research assistant after college, going on to teach at Fisk University before moving back to D.C., landing a job with the National Bureau of Standards using math to develop missile fuses. In 1956, she was hired by IBM as a part of a group of mathematicians and scientists who worked on formulating orbit computations for NASA’s Vanguard and Mercury projects. In 1962, she worked on NASA’s Apollo program and eventually returned to IBM as a senior mathematician. 

Granville became an advocate for STEM education, teaching at California State University and lending herself to programs that taught STEM to elementary school students. She also helped author textbooks, eventually retiring in 1984 to Texas with her husband. However, she continued to teach, eventually joining UT Tyler as a professor of mathematics and computer science in 1990. Now, the University is honoring the former professor for Black History Month by highlighting many of her historic achievements. 

The education stalwart continued her message of education up through the 90’s, traveling all over Texas to various middle schools encouraging students to pursue careers in mathematics. She felt that there was no career where math skills weren’t needed and saw math as a viable tool to promote logical and analytical thinking. In her autobiography, "My Life as a Mathematician," Granville called her time as a computer programmer the best time of her life, saying, “the most interesting job in her lifetime - to be a member of a group responsible for writing computer programs to track the paths of vehicles in space.” 

In 2000, Granville returned to Yale to deliver an address to students. She continued to champion her cause, working with UT Tyler in the 2000s on a mathematics summer camp to give students a head start. Today, at 97-years-old, Granville continues to promote STEM education for youth.

Thank you for your contributions, Dr. Granville! Because of you, we can!

Photo Courtesy of UT Tyler