Alice T. Schafer

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Alice T. Schafer
Born Alice Elizabeth Turner
(1915-06-18)June 18, 1915
Richmond, Virginia
Died September 27, 2009(2009-09-27) (aged 94)
Lexington, Massachusetts
Education

Alice Turner Schafer (June 18, 1915 – September 27, 2009[1]) was an American mathematician. She was one of the founding members of the Association for Women in Mathematics in 1971.

Early life[edit]

She was born on June 18, 1915 in Richmond, Virginia. She received a full scholarship to study at the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia. She was the only female mathematics major. At the time, women were not allowed in the campus library.[2] She was a brilliant student and won the department's James D. Crump Prize in mathematics in her junior year. She completed her B.A. degree in mathematics in 1936.[3]

She taught at high school for three years to earn money for her higher studies.[2] She studied at the University of Chicago and completed her Ph.D. in mathematics in 1942. Her Ph.D. thesis was in the area of projective differential geometry.[3]

When she was completing her studies at Chicago, she met Richard Schafer, who was also completing his Ph.D. in mathematics at Chicago. In 1942 Turner married Richard Schafer, after both had completed their doctorates.[3]

Academic career[edit]

After completing her Ph.D., she taught at Connecticut College, Swarthmore College, the University of Michigan and several other institutions. In 1962 she joined the faculty of Wellesley College as a full professor. Her husband Richard was working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[3]

As a teacher, Alice especially reached out to students who had difficulties with or were afraid of mathematics, by designing special classes for them. She took a special interest in helping high-school students, women in particular, achieve in mathematics.[3]

In 1971, Schafer was one of the founding members of the Association for Women in Mathematics. She was elected as the second President of the association from 1973 to 1975.[3]

Schafer was named Helen Day Gould Professor of Mathematics at Wellesley in 1980. She retired from Wellesley in 1980. However, she remained there for two more years during which she was chairman of Wellesley's Affirmative Action Program. After retiring from Wellesley, she taught at Simmons College and was also involved in the management program in the Radcliffe College Seminars. Her husband retired from MIT in 1988 and the couple moved to Arlington, Virginia. However, she still wanted to teach. She became professor of mathematics at Marymount University until a second retirement in 1996.[3]

Awards and honors[edit]

Schafer received many awards and honors for her service to mathematics. She received an honorary degree from the University of Richmond in 1964. She was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1985.[3]

In 1990 the Association for Women in Mathematics established the Alice T. Schafer Mathematics Prize to honor her for her dedicated service towards increasing the participation of women in mathematics.[3]

In January 1998, she received the Yueh-Gin Gung and Dr Charles Y Hu Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics, awarded by the Mathematical Association of America.[3]

References[edit]

  • Morrow, Charlene Ed.; Perl, Teri Ed. Notable Women in Mathematics: A Biographical Dictionary. 1998. Greenwood Publishing Group.

External links[edit]