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Dudley Weldon Woodard was one of the first Black students to earn a graduate degree from the University, and the first known Black graduate student in the Physical Sciences Division. He went on to establish the graduate program in mathematics at Howard University and found a mathematics library. He published several books and papers during his career and is considered the first African American to have published in a leading mathematics journal.


Woodard received his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Chicago in 1906 and 1907, respectively. He then spent decades teaching mathematics at the Tuskegee Institute, Wilberforce College, and Howard University, where he also became dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.


Woodard took a leave of absence from Howard in 1927 to pursue a doctoral degree at the University of Pennsylvania. One year later, he became the second African American in the U.S. to receive a PhD in mathematics for his thesis, “On Two-Dimensional Analysis Situs with Special Reference to the Jordan Curve Theorem,” which was published in Fundamenta Mathematicae in 1929.


During his decades as faculty and administrator at Howard, he mentored many prominent Black mathematicians. He retired in 1947.

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First Black graduate student in the PSD (MS 1907) and the second to earn a PhD in mathematics in the U.S., established Howard University's master's program in math


Photo Source: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive, University of St. Andrews Scotland, featuring several photos likely courtesy of Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University Archives, Washington, D.C. 

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