Shirley McBay

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Dr. Shirley Mathis McBay (born May 4, 1935, Bainbridge, Georgia) is the founder and former president of the Quality Education for Minorities (QEM) Network, a non-profit dedicated to improving minority education.[1] She was the Dean for Student Affairs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1980 to 1990.[2] She was the first African-American to receive a PhD from the University of Georgia (1966, Mathematics).[3]


McBay received a BA in chemistry from Paine College in 1954, graduating summa cum laude. While also teaching chemistry at Spelman College, McBay earned an MS in chemistry (1957) and MS in mathematics (1958) from Atlanta University.[4] In 1964, she earned a United Negro College Fund Fellowship, sponsored by the IBM Corporation, that allowed her to study at the University of Georgia and earn a PhD in mathematics in 1966.[5][4] Her PhD was advised by Thomas Roy Brahana with a dissertation on The Homology Theory of Metabelian Lie Algebras.[6]


McBay spent 15 years at Spelman College as a faculty member and administrator. McBay's leadership at Spelman led to the creation of the Division of Natural Sciences and an increase in an emphasis on the sciences at the institution.[4] She served as chairman of the division until 1975 and as Associate Academic Dean at Spelman from 1973-1975.[4] During this time, she created pre-freshman summer programs to increase interest in science majors, which led to the creation of a chemistry department and renovations of existing science buildings.[4]

McBay left Spelman in 1975 and took a position at the National Science Foundation for 5 years.[1][4] While at the National Science Foundation, she became program director of the Minority Institutions Science Improvement Program.[4] She then worked for 10 years at MIT as the Dean for Student Affairs. 30 months of this time included being the director of the QEM Project, a study of minority education problems. The QEM Project was the impetus for the Quality Education for Minorities (QEM) Network which McBay founded and was president of from 1990 to 2016.[2][1]


  1. ^ a b c "Our Founder". Quality Education for Minorities (QEM) Network. Retrieved March 5, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Rosenberg, Brian (April 6, 1990). "Dean McBay to step down". The Tech. Retrieved March 5, 2017.
  3. ^ Pratt, Robert A. (2002). We Shall Not Be Moved: The Desegregation of the University of Georgia. p. 127. ISBN 9780820326320. Retrieved March 5, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Wini., Warren (1999). Black women scientists in the United States. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0253336031. OCLC 42072097.
  5. ^ Williams, Scott W. "Shirley Mathis McBay". The Mathematics Department of The State University of New York at Buffalo. Retrieved March 5, 2017.
  6. ^ Shirley McBay at the Mathematics Genealogy Project

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