vivienne mayes

Vivienne Malone Mayes: Why she kicks ass

  • She earned a B.A. (1952) and M.A .(1954) in Mathematics at Fisk University.
  • She is the fifth African-American woman to receive a Ph. D. in Mathematics (University of Texas-Austin). 
  • She was the first Black woman to serve on the executive committee of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM).
  • She served on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM).
  • In 1966, she became the first Black faculty member at Baylor University, the institution which had rejected her, with an explicit anti-black policy, as a student only five years previously. She spent her teaching career there until she retired in 1994 because of ill health.
  • She was heavily involved in anti-racist picketing; her articles situate her academic struggles within the broader anti-racist movement. 
  • She served on the Board of Directors for Goodwill Industries, the Board of Directors for Family Counseling and Children, the Texas State Advisory Council for Construction of Community Mental Health Centers, and the Board of Directors of Cerebral Palsy.
  • In 1971, the Baylor Student Congress elected Mayes Outstanding Faculty Memeber of the Year.
  • She was very successful, although she initially faced much opposition in studying mathematics; in her first undergraduate class she was the only Black person and the only woman and she was denied a teaching assistantship even though she was an experienced (13 years) and excellent teacher. 
  • Her Ph.D. thesis was entitled “A structure problem in asymptotic analysis.” Part of this work was published in the Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society, v. 22 (1969) under a different title. (Later her research interests shifted to summability theory).