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Black News and News Makers in History: Dr. Dudley Woodard

African American news from Pasadena - Black News and News Makers in History recognizes Dudley Woodard this week in Black history.Dudley Weldon Woodard was from Galveston, Texas. After completing is primary education in Texas, he attended Wilberforce College in Ohio, receiving a bachelor degree in mathematics in 1903. He then received a B.S. degree in 1906 and an M. S. degree in mathematics at the University of Chicago in 1907. His thesis was titled "Loci Connected with the Problem of Two Bodies".

From 1907 to 1914, Woodard taught mathematics at Tuskegee Institute and then moved to join the Wilberforce faculty from 1914-1920.

Though he excelled and was hugely popular as an academic administrator, Woodard was also an intellectual. In the early 1920s he began taking advanced mathematics courses in the summer sessions at Columbia University. It then became clear that he was among the gifted mathematicians in the nation.

Columbia's loss was Penn's gain when in 1927 Woodard took scholarly leave from Howard and spent a year at Penn, working under the direction of John R. Kline, one of the best and brightest of Penn's mathematics faculty.

In 1921, he joined the mathematics faculty at Howard University. While at Howard, he was also selected Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences where he worked until 1929.

During this time received his Ph.D. Mathematics in 1928 at the University of Pennsylvania. Woodward's thesis was entitled: "On Two-Dimensional Analysis Situs with Special Reference to the Jordan Curve Theorem." Woodard became the 38th person to receive a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Penn. More significantly, Woodard was only the second African American in the nation to receive that degree.

Woodard was married and had a son who later joined the faculty at Howard. Dr. Woodard established the M. S. degree program in mathematics, making Howard's mathematical program as one of the best for study among America's Historically Black Universities and Colleges.

He was the thesis supervisor for many of Howard's M. S. degree students. He also established the mathematics library at Howard. He established and sponsored several professorships and many scholarly seminars in mathematics. Among his colleagues and students, Woodard excelled and was very popular as professor and administrator. He was highly respected by those who knew him in the mathematical sciences community.

When he retired in 1947 as chairman of the department, he had led Howard's mathematics faculty through a quarter century of steady advancement. In an age of discrimination, Dudley Weldon Woodard had competed and triumphed in the face of overwhelming odds. Penn is proud to claim him among its most distinguished alumni.

Deane Montgomery, former president of the American Mathematical Society and the International Mathematical Union described Woodard as, "an extremely nice man, well-balanced personally." Leo Zippin, who was an internationally known specialist in Woodard's field, said that he was "one of the noblest men I've ever known."

Dr. Woodard was not only a brilliant mathematician, but a man of dignity; he enjoyed life in spite of his racial environment.

He used the phrase, "black is beautiful" in the 1930s; he often ignored the "colored" signs and visited any men's restroom of his choice. He also ate at many "nice" restaurants and enjoyed the theaters of his choice in New York. He and his family once moved in what had been an all-white neighborhood because it was aesthetically nice and it was near Howard.

Woodard devoted his entire professional life to the promotion of excellence in mathematics through the advancement of his students, teaching and research. Dudley Woodard retired in 1947 and died July 1, 1965 in his home in Cleveland Ohio.

Excerpts from http://www.anothershadeofcolor.com and http://www.archives.upenn.edu/histy/features/aframer/math.html.

 
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