Thyrsa Frazier Svager

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Thyrsa Frazier Svager
Photo of Thyrsa Frazier Svager
Thyrsa Anne Frazier

(1930-06-16)June 16, 1930
DiedJuly 23, 1999(1999-07-23) (aged 69)
Alma mater
Known for
  • One of the first African-American woman PhDs in mathematics
  • Scholarship fund for African-American women in mathematics
Scientific career
  • Mathematics

Thyrsa Anne Frazier Svager (June 16, 1930 – July 23, 1999) was an American academic who was one of the first African-American woman to gain a PhD in mathematics.[1] Born in Ohio, she graduated from high school at the age of 16, going to Antioch College in Ohio and then doing her postgraduate degrees at Ohio State University.[2] Frazier Svager was the head of the Department of Mathematics at Central State University (CSU) in Ohio for decades, ending her academic career as provost and dean for academic affairs.[3] She and her husband, physics professor Aleksandar Svager, invested one of their salaries during their careers to build a legacy for scholarships.[4][5] After her death, the Thyrsa Frazier Svager Fund was established to provide scholarships for African-American women majoring in mathematics.[6]

Early life and education[edit]

Frazier Svager was born Thyrsa Anne Frazier on June 16, 1930, in Wilberforce, Ohio.[2] Her mother, Elizabeth Anne Frazier, taught speech at Central State University (CSU), a historically black university in Wilberforce, Ohio.[3] Her father, G. Thurston Frazier, headed the Logistics Department at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.[3] He was a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, holding the position of Polemarch in the province.[3][7] Frazier Svager had three sisters, Gail, Constance and Jane, and a brother, William Lafayette.[3][2]

Frazier Svager graduated from Wilberforce University Preparatory Academy in Ohio at the age of 16 in 1947, as class valedictorian.[2][8] She attended Antioch College, a private liberal arts college in Yellow Springs, Ohio, majoring in mathematics, with a minor in chemistry, and placed in the 99th percentile in the Princeton Senior Student Examination.[9] Frazier Svager was one of only four black students at Antioch: one of the others was Coretta Scott King, with whom she was friends.[8]

She gained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Antioch in 1951, going on to gain a master's (1952) and PhD from Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus in 1965, where Paul Reichelderfer was her doctoral advisor.[10][11] Her dissertation was titled "On the product of absolutely continuous transformations of measure spaces".[12]


Frazier Svager worked for a year at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, before teaching at Texas Southern University in Houston.[10] In 1954, she joined the faculty of CSU in Wilberforce.[10]

In 1967, Frazier Svager was appointed chairman of the department of mathematics.[13] She was awarded tenure in 1970.[14][10] She spent a summer in DC in 1966 as a systems analyst at NASA, as visiting faculty at MIT in 1969, and in 1985, she undertook postdoctoral study at OSU during the summer.[2] She was provost and vice president for academic affairs when she retired in 1993.[8][2] In March 1995, she returned for a short time to CSU as Interim President.[2]

Frazier Svager was active on the issue of scholarships, serving as the president of the local chapter of MOLES, a national association that provided scholarships for college students.[15] She was also a member of Beta Kappa Chi, the National Association of Mathematicians, and the Mathematical Association of America, and was involved with Jack and Jill of America.[15][2] Frazier Svager participated in the meeting that founded the National Association of Mathematics in 1969.[2]

She wrote two books, CSU's Modern Elementary Algebra Workbook (1969),[16] and Essential Mathematics for College Freshmen (1976).[17]

Personal life[edit]

While on the CSU faculty, Frazier met Aleksandar Svager, a Holocaust survivor from Yugoslavia and physics professor at CSU.[4][5] They married in June 1968 at her parents' home.[18]

Thyrsa Frazier Svager died on July 23, 1999.[19]


Both university professors with a strong commitment to furthering education opportunities, the Svagers lived on one income, investing the other to build a scholarship fund.[5] After her death, her husband established the Thyrsa Frazier Svager Fund at the Dayton Foundation, for African-American women who major in mathematics at one of six universities, with a legacy contribution planned.[6][5] As of February 2017, 33 women had received support from the Fund.[5] An annual contribution is also being made to the American Physical Society's Minority Scholarship.[4]


Frazier Svager was honored with an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by CSU on her retirement, and she was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Greene County, Ohio.[2]


  1. ^ Kenschaft, PD (October 1981). "Black women in mathematics in the United States". The American Mathematical Monthly. 88 (8): 592–604. doi:10.1080/00029890.1981.11995321. JSTOR 2320508.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Houston, Johnny L (Summer 2000). "Spotlight on a mathematician: Thyrsa Anne Frazier Svager 1930–1999" (PDF). National Association of Mathematics Newsletter. xxxi (2): 9. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 19, 2017. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e Parks, Rena E. Lacey (2010). All the White Folks: A History of a People. Bloomington, IN: Xlibris Corporation. ISBN 978-1465328090. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "APS Member Gives Minority Scholarship Fund a Boost". APS News. No. Vol 12 (2). American Physical Society. February 2003. Archived from the original on May 6, 2017. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Thrysa Frazier Svager: One of Dayton's Hidden Figures". YouTube. The Dayton Foundation. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Thyrsa Frazier Svager Scholarship Fund". The Dayton Foundation. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
  7. ^ "Receive key to city". Xenia Daily Gazette. July 2, 1965. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c "Thyrsa Frazier Svager". The Dayton Foundation. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
  9. ^ "Miss Frazier receives PhD at Ohio State". Xenia Daily Gazette. September 10, 1965. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  10. ^ a b c d Kenschaft, Patricia C. "Thyrsa Anne Frazier Svager". Mathematical Association of America. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  11. ^ Thyrsa Frazier Svager at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  12. ^ Frazier, Thyrsa Anne (1965). On the product of absolutely continuous transformations of measure spaces. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
  13. ^ "Several CSU department heads are changing". Xenia Daily Gazette. No. June 12, 1967. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  14. ^ "12 CSU faculty members promoted". Xenia Daily Gazette. July 22, 1970. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  15. ^ a b "MOLES chapter headed by Thyrsa Svager". Xenia Daily Gazette. October 6, 1971. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  16. ^ Central State University, Department of Mathematics (1972). Modern elementary algebra workbook. Dubuque: W.C. Brown Book Co. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
  17. ^ Central State University, Department of Mathematics (August 25, 1976). Essential mathematics for College freshmen. Ohio: Kendall Hunt. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
  18. ^ "Marriage solemnized Sunday". Xenia Daily Gazette. June 19, 1968. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  19. ^ "Black women in mathematics: Thyrsa Frazier Svager". Math.Buffalo.Edu. Buffalo University. Retrieved April 18, 2017.

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