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Wed, 02.10.1932

Vivienne Malone-Mayes, Math Professor born

Vivienne Malone-Mayes

*Vivienne Malone-Mayes was born on this date in 1932.  She was a Black mathematician and professor.  

Vivienne Lucille Malone was born in Waco, Texas, to Pizarro and Vera Lucille Estelle Allen Malone.  Growing up in a Black community in the Jim Crow South was difficult.  This included racially segregated schools, but the encouragement of her parents, both educators, led her to pursue her education. She graduated with A. J. Moore High School in 1948.

She entered Fisk University at the age of 16, where she earned a bachelor's degree (1952) and a master's degree (1954).  She married James Mayes in 1952 and had a daughter, Patsy Anne Mayes Wheeler.  After studying under Evelyn Boyd Granville and Lee Lorch, Malone switched from medicine to mathematics. Granville was among the first of two Black women to earn her PhD. in mathematics.  After earning her master’s, she chaired the Mathematics department at Paul Quinn College for seven years and then at Bishop College for one year before deciding to take further graduate mathematics courses. She was refused admission at Baylor University due to segregation and instead attend summer courses at the University of Texas.

After another year of teaching, she decided to attend the University of Texas full-time as a graduate student. She was the only Black and only woman in the class; at first, her classmates ignored her. She was not allowed to teach, was unable to attend lectures, and could not join off-campus meetings because they were held in a coffee shop that could not, under Texas law, serve Blacks. She wrote, "My mathematical isolation was complete," and that "it took faith in scholarship almost beyond measure to endure the stress of earning a Ph.D. degree as a Black, female graduate student."

She participated in civil rights demonstrations, and her friends and colleagues Etta Falconer and Lee Lorch wrote on her death, "With skill, integrity, steadfastness, and love she fought racism and sexism her entire life, never yielding to the pressures or problems which beset her path." As an educator, Malone-Mayes developed novel methods of teaching mathematics, including a program using self-paced audio tutorials. Her mathematical research was in functional analysis, particularly characterizing the growth properties of ranges of nonlinear operators. Malone-Mayes graduated in 1966 with a dissertation entitled "A structured problem in asymptotic analysis."  Her doctoral supervisor was Don E. Edmondson.  

Following graduation, Malone-Mayes was hired as a full-time professor in the mathematics department at Baylor University. Her research focused on functional analysis; of her two papers, one studies sum ability methods for the moment problem as operators on sequence spaces, and the other studies the long-term behavior of a particular linear ordinary differential equation. Nonetheless, her research was sufficiently innovative to qualify for federal grants to support her work and the latter paper was published in the prestigious Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society.   She was soon a full professor.  Malone-Mayes had a successful, lengthy career and served on several boards and committees, retiring in 1994 due to ill health.  

She was a member of the board of directors of the National Association of Mathematicians. She was elected Director-at-large for the Texas section of the Mathematical Association of America and served as director of the High School Lecture Program for the Texas section.  She was also active in her local community as a lifetime New Hope Baptist Church member. She served on boards of directors for Cerebral Palsy, Goodwill Industries, and Family Counseling and Children. She was on the Texas State Advisory Council for the Construction of Community Mental Health Centers. She served on the board of the Heart of Texas Region Mental Health and Mental Retardation Center.  

Malone-Mayes was a Delta Sigma Theta sorority and served as President of the Waco Alumnae Chapter.  After Lillian K. Bradley in 1960, Malone-Mayes became one of the first Black women to receive a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Texas (and the fifth Black woman in the United States). She was the first Black faculty member at Baylor University and the first Black elected to the Association of Women in Mathematics Executive Committee.  Malone-Mayes studied the properties of functions and methods of teaching mathematics. She was the fifth Black woman to gain a Ph.D. in mathematics in the United States and the first Black member of the faculty of Baylor University.  The student congress of Baylor voted her the "Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year" in 1971.  Vivienne Malone-Mayes died of a heart attack in Waco on June 9, 1995, at the age of 63.  

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I see’d her in de Springtime, I see’d her in de Fall, I see’d her in de Cotton patch A cameing from de Ball. She hug me, an’ she kiss me, She Wrung my... SHE HUGGED ME AND SHE KISSED ME, a Negro Folk Secular.
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